Title win will ease the pain
JOSE Mourinho’s aura took a battering as ten-man Paris Saint- Germain dumped his Chelsea side out of the Champions League on Wednesday night – and I reckon he will be sacked if he doesn’t deliver the Premier League title over the next few weeks.
Who would have thought we would be suggesting the manager that has already collected the first major trophy of the English season would be fearing for his job, but I have no doubt he will be replaced if his Chelsea team fail to convert their winning position in the Premier League into the ultimate glory.
We all know how Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich works and, if he doesn’t get what he wants every season, he changes his manager, even if the man in the hot-seat happens to be the highly decorated Mourinho.
Regular readers of my Sunday World column will know that I have long been a big Chelsea fan and, while I wasn’t too keen on Mourinho when he first arrived in English football and arrogantly proclaimed himself to be special, I grew to admire a man who guarantees trophies wherever he goes.
Annoying Mourinho can be very annoying, he can be disrespectful to his opponents and his craving to be the centre of attention is frustrating at times, but all is forgiven every time he lifts a piece of silverware above his head.
Yet something changed this week.
Mourinho doesn’t lose games when his side take a lead and the opposition are down to ten men… at least that was the theory until PSG came to London, and this defeat will be remembered by opposing teams for a long time to come.
When Gary Cahill scored for Chelsea near the end of normal time the last- 16 tie against PSG to make it 2-1 on aggregate, I was not alone in feeling that was ‘game over’ and the problem may have been that some of the Blues players felt the same.
Instead of killing off their opponents, Chelsea sat back, believed the job was done and after David Luiz (it had to be him, right?) equalised, PSG dared to believe once again heading into extra time.
I was pleased to see Luiz celebrate his goal by the way.
Never mind he was playing against his former club, this was a big moment in his career and for his club and he didn’t need to apologise for showing some emotion.
This game should all be about emotion, and fair play to the fella for going back to Chelsea and proving a few people wrong – Mourinho included.
When Eden Hazard’s penalty put Chelsea back in front in extra-time, again I thought it was Chelsea who would move into the quarter-finals, but this was a night when the manager who prides himself on winning the games that matter came up short.
In many ways, Mourinho only had himself to blame for this shocking setback because I couldn’t believe he used his pre-match press conference to belittle the standard of French football and all-but suggest his Chelsea team were playing a second-rate team.
Why did he do that? It only served to fire up PSG, who had all the motivation they needed to prove him wrong. I don’t want this column to look like an attack on Mourinho and I have to say some of the comments from the RTE pundits – with Johnny Giles calling him evil after the game – were a little over the top.
That said, Mourinho has a habit of overstepping the mark.
In addition, I can see the team have been lulled into believing the message of their manager that the world is against them and, as a result, they are performing with a chip on their shoulders.
Anyone that tackles a Chelsea player now is seen as a villain of the piece, but that isn’t always the case.
We saw such a situation with Oscar and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (above) on Wednesday.
When a big guy challenges a little guy, it is natural for the teammates of the smaller combatant to step up and protect their man, but this was not a nasty challenge and the PSG striker should never have been sent off.
Mourinho has created a siege mentality in his team and that sense of entitlement is not attractive, with his antics on the touchline goading the fourth official another side of his game that is hard to admire.
We all knew what we were getting with Mourinho when he returned to Chelsea and, while he vowed to tone down his behaviour in his second stint at the club, a leopard never changes his spots.
So long as Mourinho wins the Premier League crown in May – which I expect him to do, by the way – his Champions League demise this week will be quickly forgotten.
He doesn’t need me to tell him what might happen if he blows the title now.