How the Real Madrid experience has damaged Jose Mourinho and Chelsea

TFN editor James Dutton looks at how Jose Mourinho’s bitter experience at Real Madrid has defined his management back at Chelsea…

“The only friend I have in this dressing room is Granero… and I’m not even sure that I can trust him any more. You’ve left me all on my own. You’re the most treacherous squad I’ve had in my life. Nothing more than sons of bitches.”

Real Madrid changed Jose Mourinho. The bitter, twisted and paranoid Mourinho that has stalked the Stamford Bridge touchline since the turn of the year is not the one that departed Milan in 2010, a European champion for the second time and ready to be feted by the biggest club in world football.

Sure, Mourinho has never been a saint. At Porto and his first spell with Chelsea there was plenty of evidence of the dark, underhand tactics that so riled Graeme Souness on Wednesday night. But Madrid was a new experience for him, it challenged him in ways he had never come across before. The insubordination that he met at Real Madrid, the dressing room cliques that festered and chronically undermined his final season in the Spanish capital, have resonated with him more than anything he has ever encountered in his glittering managerial career.

He proclaimed himself “The Happy One” when he returned to West London in June 2013, but he has barely raised a smile since. Of course, he did not mean that he was literally happy – there are always undercurrents to Mourinho’s words. More it was relief that he had returned somewhere where he could command the instant respect that he had had to earn for himself at Madrid. Continue reading

Stomach pumps and power drills: Football’s weirdest injuries


Piers Barber reminisces on some of the most peculiar injury setbacks to have befallen footballers in recent years.

The news that Jose Mourinho somehow managed to sustain a fracture to his elbow after Chelsea’s game with Manchester United last weekend is the latest in a long line of mysteriously bizarre footballing injuries. Indeed, the Beautiful Game is filled with a great canon of weird and wonderful physical misfortunes. Here is our top 10…

10. Phillipe Mexes

Pretty-boy Mexes clearly cares a lot about his appearance, although was clearly guilty of taking the obsession a bit too far last year after he was forced to sit out a game against Celtic after spending too long on a sun bed. His price for a creepy fake bronzed torso was a rather serious eye condition known as central serous retinopathy. Continue reading

Steve Bruce’s new look Hull can beat the drop


TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh has faith in Steve Bruce to guide Hull to safety…

“It’s funny, my daughter & missus are coming to Chelsea today – I don’t think they’re coming to look at me”, Steve Bruce quipped before Hull’s game on Sunday. Yet the way Bruce has been acting in his interviews and on the touchline, his motives for coming to West London were exactly the same: to get up close and personal with Jose Mourinho.

It was like watching an elderly history teacher who has taken a shine to a younger and more extrovert language teacher, returning from a sabbatical in Europe and Bruce had already been lavishing praise on Mou in his pre-match press conference. “The fact that Jose is back is a ‘wow’”, he said. “I’m delighted he’s back because we need people like him. He’s quite remarkable in what he has done and not just at Chelsea; he’s gone to Italy and done it; he’s gone to Spain and done it; he started in Portugal and done it.”

In the dying moments of the first half, with Chelsea leading 2-0 and in control, the Stamford Bridge crowd were also treated to a legitimate example of goal line technology. Branislav Ivanovic’s header was indeed clawed off the line, although replays showed just how close it was. Meanwhile, Bruce strolled over to Mourinho by the dugout, laughing and holding his hands up in mock prayer. Did he actually care or was this just an opportunity for some small talk? Continue reading

Jose Mourinho Returns: Don’t Believe the Hype


As Jose Mourinho returns to England, James Dutton looks at perceptions of the Portuguese, his influence on the Premier League and the challenges he faces…

Opinions on “The Special One” – although this moniker, much like Marie Antoinette and her reference to cake, is a mistranslation that has been allowed to perpetuate – are as erratic and varied as his own mood swings. Here are just some of the musings from journalists and broadcasters in the last 24 hours:

Henry Winter – “Box-office reopens”

Phil McNulty – “The Premier League will be richer for his presence”

Gary Lineker – “Welcome back Jose Mourinho. Let the games begin…” 

According to just about everyone the Premier League “just got interesting again”. It needed an injection of something after a sterile 2012-13, but not necessarily an injection of Mourinho. The off-field landscape, so depressingly dominated by agenda, moralisation and pantomime, will not be abated by the looming spectre of Mourinho, but ratcheted up to stratospheric levels.

Is this really something to proclaim as exciting or even interesting? What he brings is artificial drama through his own ego, for the football his sides produce rarely sets the pulses racing. We shouldn’t be encouraged or exhilarated about his return, but rather more cynical and wary of the impending doom. Continue reading

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea and the Cult of Brian Clough

Mourinho Chelsea

As the press go wild for Jose Mourinho’s reinstatement as Chelsea manager, Greg Johnson ponders the source of England’s love affair with the Special One and the interrupted quest for domestic domination he will look to now reassume…

The all-encompassing British football manager is perhaps the most revered piece of dogma in this island’s footballing belief system. Arguably no one has typified this ceremonial role of idol, patriarch and high priest as much as Brian Clough, who continues to influence popular tastes on the sort of perfect, omnipotent higher-being fans should desire to run their football club to this day.

It is this cult of the archetype head coach that led the English media to first be seduced and later fall in love with Jose Mourinho: their messianic, romantic saviour. But back to Brian Clough.

“Old big head”, he was called: the most arrogant, quotable and brilliant manager of his age, and Clough’s achievements remain legendary. Continue reading

The Football Tactics Paradigm


In defence of the Alan’s and their punditry, The False Nine debutant, Elko Born, tackles the myth of the football manager… 

These days, whoever is tired of hearing Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen repeat chewed down, romantic cliché’s every Saturday and Sunday night needs not to worry.

It’s 2013, and only a few clicks or swipes separate the modern football fan from a vast array of carefully thought out football theory. From hypotheses about the advent of the ‘false nine’ to discussions  on the merits of high pressing; on the internet, it’s all out there in abundance, nicely laid out in articles written by amateurs and professionals alike. Continue reading

The Clash of the Titans – Real Madrid v Manchester United


Freddie Mickshik previews the Champions League clash with a sub-plot down every avenue…

A decade on from Ronaldo’s hat-trick at Old Trafford, in one of the greatest ties the Champions League has witnessed, his Portuguese namesake returns to the club that made him great for a fixture that has mouths watering across Europe. Continue reading