Thursday, September 20, 2007
No Way Jose!
Say it ain't so! Rubbing the sleep from my eyes over BBC breakfast I thought I had been transported to April Fool's day, surely some mistake. Hit the teletext button. Nope in blue and black, no mistake. Chelsea's MOST successful manager, stress that fact, gone. Let there be no doubt and no amnesia setting in just because of his last three results.
A QUICK HISTORY LESSON
Chelsea have only ever won the top league three times. Twice under Mourinho. No other manager in Chelsea's history has done this.
Chelsea won every domestic trophy under Mourinho and came close to the Champions League final twice in his three and a bit seasons. Only Claudio Ranieri his predecessor got to a semifinal and only the once.
Jose Mourinho has not lost a home game for FIVE seasons. There cannot be too many managers who can boast that achievement. In fact his record over five years including at Chelsea is:
Played 305 won 211 lost 35 drawn 59 winning percentage: 69.18%
which meant along the way breaking Liverpool's unbeaten home record. Even when Mourinho does not win trophies he picks up achievements.
IT'S THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE STUPID!
Let there be no doubt why Mourinho has left this morning. Nothing to do with Premiership success or lack of. He has won two titles in three seasons which compares nicely to his contemporaries, Wenger who has three but has been allowed to get on with the job-11 years at the helm and a new contract signed. It is unknown but likely that Mourinho would have garnered another league title in the next 8 seasons. Rafa Benitez has yet to win the title but has a Champions league to swap. Then of course the unarguable managerial legend of Sir Alex. 9 titles but he has had 20 years to harvest them. And only one in Mourinho's era at Chelsea. All three have a similar win percentage to Mourinho, perhaps even slightly less.
So yes Chelsea have trotted out like dachshunds but he was not sacked after defeat to Aston Villa or even the draw at home to Blackburn Rovers. Besides, one goal in the Blackburn game and Chelsea would have been alongside Arsenal at the top of the table. Hardly the need for the Chelsea Duma to crackdown on it's sports minister.
No. Mourinho has gone because Abramovich wants the biggest prize in world club football. The Premiership might be harder to win. 38 games of consistency versus the Casiono Royale of knockout competitions where one bad decision, one mistake can leave you out in the cold. But the Champions league glitters the most. As a Russian billionaire it is the one Abramovich identifies with most strongly. The final this season is in Moscow. His home capital. For his team, which he has funded to Bolshoi Theatre fountain levels, not to be there would be a massive blow to his pride. And the Rosenborg draw at home threatened to do precisely that.
STYLE OVER SUCCESS?
Abramovich also wants to stuff himself with Pashka. He wants to win and win in style. Both would be lovely. There were time last season when a bit of Ronseal running down a fence would have seemed more interesting than Chelsea. But sometimes the two don't go together. Arsenal for example play fantastic football but it is only this season with some rediscovered steel in their armoury they look on course to pick up a trophy. Ranieri built a team with lovely flowing football at Chelsea but won nothing, and for all Gullit's sexy football he only collected the FA cup. The major trophies require times when the win is more important than the manner and Mourinho understood that. No disrespect to Hull City, but when Chelsea visit I don't expect them to sacrifice a chance of victory by leaving their millionaire opponents room to maneuvre simply so there will be stylish football. However good Hull are, they know that would be naive.
AVRAM? WHO THE IS AVRAM?
So who is the wonder man that will fill that managerial coat left by Mourinho? Avram Grant. Who the Telegraph describe as a popular charming man. Well in that case he must be better than Mourinho, who was sometimes arrogant and disrespectful. Mourinho's ruthlessness and arrogance best summed up by his own words: Look, we're not entertaining? I don't care; we win.
Excuse me but Wenger is not always mr sweetness and Kantian enlightenment. On arriving at Arsenal he said he attempted to watch a Tottenham game and fell asleep. Mourinho livened up the weekend with his quotes, winding up opposition fans and giving others something to chuckle about. Lift the veil of black humour and sharp tongue and you had a footballing brain that allowed him to speak his mind.
While Avram Grant has won the Israeli league four times he has not exactly set Europe alight and despite not losing a game in 2006 World Cup qualification failed to squeeze out Switzerland. Look back at Mourinho's record on checking in at Дом Chelsea again. Portugese League winner and Champions league medal still reflecting the Gelsenkirchen floodlights. Grant may well be a fine footballing genius but he is hardly in the same bracket yet. At the age of 52 he is also hardly the man to create a Ferguson style dynasty (Mourinho is 44).
MOSCOW OR BUST?
This is one hell of a gamble by Abramovich and his board. When the dust settles under a Russian sky in Moscow after the Champions League final we will find out if it has paid of and his dream becomes reality. Otherwise my sleepy eyes will not have awaken from the nightmare of the sum of my fears-Abramovich has set sail on his new yacht: SW6 the trophybreaker and from there its anyone's guess which port he will make.
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