We're only one round of fixtures into the new Premier League season and already there's plenty of controversy surrounding Jose Mourinho. The Chelsea manager has made the headlines many times over the years, for better or worse. However his latest exploits are surprising even by his standards.
Mourinho has reportedly banned team doctor Eva Carneiro from sitting on the bench on matchdays after she treated Eden Hazard on the pitch during the closing stages of Chelsea's 2-2 with Swansea. Carneiro has been Chelsea's club doctor since 2010/11 but was criticised by Mourinho after her actions forced off Hazard, thus ten man Chelsea were temporarily reduced to nine players.
The Chelsea managers controversial comments have sparked much debate. Many believe that Carneiro was simply doing her job. Sexism has been mentioned and even Chelsea fans are questioning their bosses behaviour. Just what is going on inside Jose's head?
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It's not been the best of summers for Chelsea. Despite lifting the Premier League title back in May they've suffered somewhat of a slump during the off season. The club let Petr Cech leave for their London rivals Arsenal, a move that Mourinho doesn't seem happy with. His replacement Asmir Begovic had a torrid time on his debut as The Blues were beaten 4-2 by New York Red Bulls.
During pre-season they failed to win a single match in normal time, defeating both PSG and Barcelona on penalties. Last month he launched a scathing attack on Rafa Benitez in which he said that the Spaniard 'destroyed' Inter Milan and also made jibes about his weight. We all know of the feud between the pair but this was extreme even by Mourinho's standards.
The Community Shield proved to be another disappointment as Arsenal defeated them 1-0. It was a poor peformance from Mourinho's men and they failed to create many clear cut opportunities. As Arsenal's players descended the Wembley steps, Mourinho stopped to shake hands with each of them. Though admirable, things are never as they appear with the Portuguese, this was almost testing to see what Arsene Wenger would do. A handshake snub from the Frenchman was perhaps the reaction Mourinho was hoping for.
Pre-season ended with a home defeat to Fiorentina. Their friendly fixtures had raised serious questions about their defensive capabilities. Yet many anticipated that they would quickly silence their critics on Saturday. This did not happen though, Chelsea put in an unconvincing performance which raised more questions than answers.
Branislav Ivanovic was given the run around by Jefferson Montero and Thibaut Courtois saw red. It was a performance totally out of character for a team that was so strong defensively last season. Indeed many predicted a typical 1-0 victory in this fixture.
What's changed in the last three months then? Well first of all we shouldn't be too quick to write off Chelsea. This could well be a small blip for the London club. You don't go from champions to chumps in the space of three months. There are problems for the club though. Ivanovic has certainly not looked himself over the last month and at 31-years-old criticism will continue if he continues to under perform.
Diego Costa's hamstring is also becoming a huge issue. The Spaniard is a crucial player for Chelsea, having scored 20 goals in his debut season. However having to rely on Costa is not an ideal situation. Yes, they have Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy but neither of them are good enough to lead the line for the club based on current form. It's still not clear if Costa is fit now but it's virtually a certainty that he's going to miss games over the course of the season, it would be surprising if his injury problems decrease as he gets older.
FEELING THE PRESSURE?
Chelsea's opening weekend misery was compounded by Mourinho's attack on his club doctor. Is this the sign of a man feeling the pressure? Having won the Premier League last season the Chelsea manager is no doubt safe in his position but Chelsea's poor preparation and underwhelming start will be a concern to him.
It was plain sailing for Chelsea last season who led from start to finish. This time around it's Chelsea who will have to play catch up. It's an unfamiliar situation for the club and perhaps Mourinho's tantrum is the only way he can deal with it. The problems are suddenly beginning to mount up and as is natural for Mourinho he is looking for someone else to blame.
It's something the Portuguese has been known to do in the past. Referees, fans and staff have all been scapegoats for Mourinho in the past. So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by the Chelsea manager's actions.
RELIEVING THE PRESSURE?
After the week he's had it's easy to look at Mourinho and see a man who is beginning to crack, but look at it from another perspective, what if this is all part of the plan? Though controversial this situation has managed to deflect a lot of attention away from Chelsea's poor performance at the weekend.
In all of Chelsea's title triumphs one of Mourinho's greatest traits has been keeping much of the attention on him rather than his players, this has allowed many to thrive. Whether it's acceptable to use a member of the medical team to protect your players is debatable but what can't be denied is that it's worked.
Since the Swansea game Mourinho's feud with Carneiro has dominated the media. Fair enough, the performance has not gone completely unnoticed but the majority of focus has been on this incident. So while extremely controversial a Mourinho 'incident' may be exactly what his players need right now.
What ever Mourinho is thinking it would be ridiculous to dismiss Chelsea's hopes this early on. Their manager is only human, he may be feeling the pressure, but he has the experience and ability to cope with it, one way or another.
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