The Chelsea manager is reportedly set to drastically reduce his team doctor’s role for following the referee’s instructions in treating Eden Hazard on Saturday evening
Jose Mourinho has always used his media interactions as a distraction technique, insulating his players from criticism by centring the story on himself or others. He has sought to create a siege mentality among his squad, an ‘everyone against Chelsea’ narrative where those wearing blue are the only people whom each other can trust.
But his alarming dressing-down of team doctor Eva Carneiro after the Blues were nearly embarrassed by Swansea City on Saturday is arguably the first time that he has turned his guns on one of his own so viciously at Stamford Bridge.
With Chelsea down to 10 men after Thibaut Courtois’s red card and the scoreline at 2-2 late in the second half of their Premier League opener, Mourinho was incensed when, after Eden Hazard appeared to take a knock, Carneiro and her team were summoned onto the pitch by the referee to treat the Belgian. As a result, Hazard was required to briefly leave the field, leaving the hosts with just nine men.
“If you go to the pitch to assist a player, then you must be sure that a player has a serious problem,” Mourinho fumed to the press afterwards as he began to set up the cover for a poor performance.
“I was sure that Eden didn’t have a serious problem. He had a knock and was very tired.
“My medical department left me with eight fit outfield players in a counterattack after a set-piece and we were worried we didn’t have enough players left.”
Widespread reports now claim that Carneiro has had her duties severely reduced, including her removal from the dugout on matchdays, with Chelsea refusing to comment. It leaves an extremely poor taste in the mouth if Mourinho has indeed come down with such fury on someone who – not alone, it must be noted, despite the seeming specificity of the punishment – was merely following the instructions of the referee.
Mourinho’s media outbursts have always prioritised protecting his players from the ‘other’ but, if that means protecting them from his own staff, then it is surely a policy being taken too far. He certainly cannot argue that Carneiro should have ignored the laws of the game by refusing the referee’s request.
Indeed, the only person who could possibly be blamed for Hazard’s removal from the pitch is Hazard himself. If your players are going to feign injury to waste time and slow down play then this is inevitably going to be an issue for them. Usually, this tactic pays off for Mourinho’s teams, but there is no excuse when it doesn’t – being, as it is, technically outside of the rules of the game to pretend to be injured.
What it amounts to is another recent example of Mourinho’s ugly trend of punching down. In the past, the Portuguese has always railed against larger forces who may or may not have the power that he claims but are certainly out of his control – the media, the referees, the fixture computer, the board – but his targets of late are those who do not usually get a right of reply. Carneiro follows his unsavoury attack on Rafa Benitez via the Spaniard’s wife earlier this summer.
It doesn’t help, of course, that Carneiro is one of the highest-profile women working in the men’s game and already has had to put up with unequal and often degrading treatment from the stands, over social media, and almost undoubtedly from within the game as well. That is not to say that sexism is at the root of her punishment here – in fact, one might suspect that the fact that she was appointed to her first-team role by Mourinho’s former protege, Andre Villas-Boas, in 2011 could be more of a factor – but to so unfairly single out such a person sends out, consciously or otherwise, a very unpleasant message to other women with similar ambitions.
There was also a bizarrely worded criticism of 19-year-old midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek for a perceived lack of effort in post-season games earlier this year, in which Mourinho declared that their relationship had gone “one step back”, though this is easier to explain as a tough-love approach towards developing a young player.
Mourinho recently signed a new contract with Chelsea that, if fulfilled to its entirety, would see his second spell with the Blues become his longest stay at any one club but one cannot help but be reminded of Real Madrid. There, the ‘Special One’ slowly, steadily, then spectacularly fell out with colleagues left and right until his position was no longer tenable, publicly criticising the likes of Pepe, Sergio Ramos and even Cristiano Ronaldo.
If he continues down this road at Chelsea, it would be a surprise if he saw out that new deal, especially as Mourinho had his fair share of previous disagreements with owner Roman Abramovich, to whom he can still play the underdog fighting bravely for his team and his honour. But while his capacity for longevity remains an open question, there is no doubt here that Mourinho has gone too far.
Culled from goal.com