‘Ranieri old, Wenger a failure’ – Mourinho mockery coming back to haunt him

The Chelsea boss has made fun of the Leicester and Arsenal managers, plus Manuel Pellegrini, but they are challenging for the title while he languishes near the foot of the table

'Ranieri old, Wenger a failure' - Mourinho mockery coming back to haunt him

Throughout his coaching career, Jose Mourinho has often had the last laugh. The most successful coach in the past decade along with Bayern Munich and former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, the Portuguese has relished putting down some of his counterparts. This season, however, it no longer seems so clever.

On Monday, Chelsea travel to Leicester for a meeting with the Premier League’s surprise package in 2015-16 – and his old foe Claudio Ranieri.

The Portuguese replaced Ranieri at Chelsea for his first spell in 2004. “It was the end of the cycle,” he said back then. But he later attacked the Italian when the two men were working in Serie A, Mourinho at Inter and Ranieri at Juventus.

“Ranieri has the mentality of someone who doesn’t need to win,” he said in 2008. “He is almost 70 years old, he has won a Supercup and another small trophy and he is too old to change his mentality. He’s old and he hasn’t won anything.”

The Italian was actually 56 at the time, while he has won a little more than Mourinho gave him credit for: a Copa del Rey and a Uefa Super Cup with Valencia, plus a Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa Italiana at Fiorentina. Nevertheless, Mou’s Inter side beat Ranieri’s Juventus to the title and he kept his reputation as a master of mind games.

Ahead of Monday’s match, however, Mourinho’s Chelsea are languishing just a point above the drop zone while the Italian’s Leicester side sit only one from the top with a game in hand. So, perhaps logically, it was a more gracious Jose who spoke on the eve of the game.

Nevertheless, there was still a hint of damning his rival with faint praise. “I think he won manager of the month,” the Portuguese said of Ranieri. “He should win manager of the half-term… the first six months.” And he couldn’t resist a barbed comment to go with it. “Last year, Ranieri was sacked by Greece for losing to the Faroe Islands,” he said. “Now, top of the league. It’s exciting.”

It’s nothing new, of course. Mourinho has often attacked Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, famously calling the Frenchman a “voyeur” in his first spell in charge of Chelsea, before labelling the Gunners boss a “specialist in failure” last year. He has also questioned how the 66-year-old has been able to stay in his job for so long.

But ahead of Leicester’s game at home to Chelsea on Monday, Arsenal are on top of the Premier League, while the question marks these days surround the future of Mourinho and not Wenger, who has put together an excellent side in north London on a much tighter budget than the Portuguese has had at any of his clubs with the exception of Porto.

And the other team looking like title contenders at the moment, Manchester City, are managed by another of Mourinho’s many adversaries: Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean coach was replaced by the Portuguese at Real Madrid and when the former later visited the Santiago Bernabeu as Malaga boss, he quipped: “If Madrid sacked me, I would go to a big team in England or Italy. I wouldn’t go to Malaga.”

It is all very well making such remarks while winning league titles and Champions Leagues, but Mourinho’s current tenure is proving much less successful, despite winning the Premier League and the Capital One Cup last season, and he may have to reassess his options if his Chelsea spell is brought to an end in the coming months.

In the Premier League, he has already had to do so and after last weekend’s shock defeat at home to promoted side Bournemouth, he said: “Our objective is to fight for the top four, but maybe now we have to think of finishing in the top six.”

It is quite a fall from grace and whatever does happen in the rest of the season, Chelsea’s current predicament means there is now little room for Mourinho’s customary smugness and arrogance.

And if Ranieri, Pellegrini or Wenger walk away with the title next May, it will be they who will have had the last laugh. For Jose, meanwhile, it’s just not funny any more.

Culled from goal.com

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Chelsea take the concept of ‘crisis club’ to an all-new low

A quarter of the way into this Premier League season, Chelsea have unwillingly advanced the concept of the “bad patch”.

From their lofty perch of the last decade, they have witnessed plenty of minor wobbles and stumbles. It became more than a mere “blip” — universally understood to be an anomaly of form that last no longer than three or four games — when Crystal Palace snatched three points from Stamford Bridge at the end of August. After the blip comes the indeterminate period of the “crisis” — a term that has long lost its significance in the Premier League era — but crises are rarely terminal, and a corner is usually turned.

So how can we describe Chelsea’s dismal 2015/16?

From the platform of a comprehensive (if not hugely memorable) title-winning year, they have delivered the capitulation to end all capitulations. Having redefined the art of winning in his first spell as manager, Jose Mourinho has now overseen a painful exhibition in how to lose football matches. To round off an autumn of discontent, Stoke City delivered what any self-respecting run of bad form should have: a morale-sapping midweek League Cup exit away from home. On penalties with Eden Hazard, one of the stars of last season who, according to the latest transfer buzz, is linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, missing the spot kick.

As the blips of previous seasons had already suggested, Chelsea lose games like nobody else. They do not go quietly into the night. Manchester United’s dreadful season under David Moyes was characterised by meek, unimaginative surrender to lesser sides. Liverpool’s spectacular title-race derailing in 2014 was a gift to the cackling neutral, but it didn’t keep giving. Chelsea’s unfolding nightmare is on another level entirely. Rather than regaining their focus like they would in the recent past, their defeats this season have been scenes of total panic; chain reactions of fouls, yellow cards and horrified protests leaving them in a daze, on the ropes to be finished off.

Like quicksand, the more Chelsea scrap to escape it, the deeper they seem to get.

The numbers — five defeats in 10 Premier League games, conceding at a rate of almost two goals a match — can only say so much about their start. This is the most stunning collapse by a defending champion not just in terms of points and defeats, but in its chaotic manner and sensational lack of grace. Chelsea have long been a tight ball of aggression and frustration, often to their advantage, but it always ran the risk of unravelling beyond just a run of two or three untidy games.

The loss at West Ham and, in particular, Nemanja Matic’s second yellow card summed it all up. An unrivalled physical presence suddenly finding itself crumbling under pressure, unable to fathom how this could possibly have happened, and summoning only furious clumsiness in response. Then, in a fog of frustration and gleeful schadenfreude, succeeding only in making things worse. Upton Park roared with each yellow card that followed from Jon Moss’s pocket, saving another hearty honk as assistant coach Silvino Louro was sent to the stands.

Speculative comment on Mourinho’s state of mind and the whereabouts of the dressing room aside, his team have been struck down by an unprecedented number of players losing their form at the same time. In a subversive season where Jamie Vardy can muster 10 goals in as many games to generate surreal talk of an approach from Real Madrid, Chelsea’s stellar attacking threat has amounted to a couple of Diego Costa strikes and Willian’s set-piece deliveries. Eden Hazard has looked lost in the maelstrom.

Regardless of the endgame to this decline, how and when the manager makes his exit, and which brave soul comes in to turn it around, Chelsea’s season is likely to become the new benchmark for elite underperformance. “Doing a Chelsea” could potentially emulate “Doing a Leeds” (which itself warrants a 1500-word Wikipedia article) in becoming a universal phrase for falling emphatically short of expectations.

In the meantime, the language of footballing form — from the “blip” to the “crisis” — just doesn’t have the vocabulary to cover Chelsea’s perfect storm.

Fernandinho hits out at Diego Costa: He’s always trying to offend

The pair clashed during Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Chelsea, with the striker attempting to confront the Brazilian at half-time only to be restrained by his team-mates

Fernandinho hits out at Diego Costa: He's always trying to offend

Fernandinho has accused Diego Costa of “always trying to offend” when he plays after the pair clashed during Chelsea‘s 3-0 loss to Manchester City.

The striker reportedly had to be stopped from confronting the City midfielder as the two headed off the pitch at the half-time interval, with the Spain international suffering a cut to the head during a earlier clash.

“It was an accident and the nature of the game. It happens in football,” Fernandinho is quoted as saying by The Guardian.

“He [Costa] is always trying to offend the opposition, but I keep calm and keep playing. I just didn’t want to fight or have any confrontation and just to play for my team.”

Sunday’s commanding victory saw City build up a five-point lead over the Premier League champions after just two games and Fernandinho feels the squad is stronger than that which finished second last season.

He added: “It’s been a good way to start, two wins, six goals and none conceded. We have come to win the title this season.

“The manager prepared the team very well and we have started the Premier League very well and this is important because we have a long way to go and we are much stronger as a team.

“I’m proud of being part of this team and it’s the way we like to play, with a lot of intensity, control of the ball. We like to have possession and in both games we have played, we did it in the best way.

“The important thing is to win the title and if we can do it with style and by entertaining, it’s perfect. But if you cannot we have to be more consistent, especially in defending.

“We have got good players up front who can score a lot of goals, but the most important thing is to be consistent in defence and midfield as well.”

Why PFA nominees show Premier League delivers best experience to fans

The Spanish Liga has its Galacticos. But it’s the Premier League where stars are made.

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The Spanish Liga has its Galacticos. But it’s the Premier League where stars are made.

At 24, is there a better young player in the game than Eden Hazard? What about goalkeepers and David de Gea? Harry Kane and young centre-forwards?

The shortlist for last night’s PFA Players Player of the Year epitomised the strength of the Premier League – and its inscrutable relationship with fans.

Yes, it still must be a wrench for Tottenham supporters seeing Gareth Bale bombing down Real Madrid‘s wing. But it also must have been some journey for those fans who followed the Welshman from battling in the Spurs reserve-team to running Inter Milan ragged at the San Siro.

At Chelsea, they’ve seen Hazard go from a stroppy, self-important 21 year-old, famous for kicking out at ball-boys, to a leader of men. A pro’s pro. A player who has world greats, including Zinedine Zidane, queuing to lavish praise on him. And Blues fans have seen all this, up close, develop over three years. That’s some football experience.

The same can be said of De Gea and his emergence at Manchester United. Forget about being the best young goalkeeper in the game, some claim he is the outright best on the planet. But those fans who follow United home-and-away will remember that infamous flap at Tottenham two years ago, the blast from former captain Gary Neville and all the headlines about the Spaniard not being good enough.

If he does return to Madrid this summer, Real’s support will be getting the finished article. But they will have missed the chance to see De Gea develop into the player he is today. The highs and lows. The unswerving faith a supporter has in a player’s potential being realised. For many, it’s a big part of being a football fan.

Just ask Spurs supporters about ‘one of our own’, Harry Kane.

Some will have seen Kane in youth games at Enfield. Picked him as ‘one to watch’. Kept faith as he battled away on-loan with the likes of Leyton Orient and Millwall. And now celebrate with fans around the world as Kane smashes through the 30-goal barrier.

You can’t manufacture that experience. It’s among the most enjoyable aspects of being a football fan. And the Premier League offers this to us like no other competition.

Philippe Coutinho’s story is arguably the best of the lot. Bouncing between Italy and Spain, his career was going nowhere. At 21, he was washed up, Inter Milan couldn’t get rid quickly enough. But with Liverpool, under Brendan Rodgers, Coutinho has rebuilt his game and his confidence. He’s now delivering on the potential which had Europe’s biggest clubs chasing his signature as a 17 year-old at Vasco da Gama. And this has all played out – in spectacular fashion – in front of the Kop.

Even the ‘old men’ of the PFA shortlist have their best years ahead of them. Both Chelsea striker Diego Costa and Arsenal‘s Chilean dynamo Alexis Sanchez are still 26. We’re sure to see their greatest moments achieved playing in the Premier League.

Since this season’s Champions League flop, English clubs have been hammered over transfer policy, scouting, even their development structure. But given the nominees we celebrated last night, the Premier League is still where stars are made.

‘Boring is 10 years without the title’ – Mourinho hits out at Arsenal boo-boys

The crowd at the Emirates Stadium chanted “boring, boring Chelsea” late in the two sides’ 0-0 stalemate on Sunday but the Portuguese took a swipe at his opposite number

'Boring is 10 years without the title' - Mourinho hits out at Arsenal boo-boys

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hit out after his side were booed off by Arsenal supporters following Sunday’s 0-0 stalemate at the Emirates Stadium.

The Blues saw out their game plan perfectly in securing the draw that they needed to maintain a 10-point gap from their London rivals and take what captain John Terry described as a “big step” towards the title.

But Arsenal supporters let their feelings be known towards the end of the match, chanting “boring, boring Chelsea” as the game petered out.

Mourinho, however, responded in typically defiant fashion after the game by referring to the Gunners’ failure to win the league title since 2004.

“I think boring is 10 years without the title,” he said. “I think waiting, waiting, waiting for the title for 10 years is very boring.

“Maybe they were not singing to us. When you are playing at home and take your No.9 off … maybe they wanted to see [Olivier] Giroud and [Danny] Welbeck together.

“The boring team has scored the second most goals in the Premier League and has the best goal difference.
I think only top teams can be top of the league since day one.”

Henry is wrong, Giroud can win Arsenal titles – Coquelin

The 23-year-old says the France striker, who has scored 18 goals this season, has shown he is good enough for the Gunners

Henry is wrong, Giroud can win Arsenal titles - Coquelin

Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin has hit back at Thierry Henry after the former striker said the Gunners need “a top, top-quality striker in order to win this league again”.

The Frenchman was speaking after Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea at the Emirates which ended Arsenal’s eight-game winning streak and left them 10 points behind the Blues in third.

Henry insisted that Arsene Wenger needed to sign four new players if they are to clinch a first Premier League title since 2004 but Coquelin says Olivier Giroud is good enough for the Gunners.

“Thierry Henry is wrong. Giroud shows his potential every week,” he told RMC. “He showed that he has the level to be the Arsenal striker, and we can win titles with him.

“We are disappointed with the result against Chelsea because we were on a good run.

“Now the target is to focus on the end of the championship, win all the remaining matches to get this second place, and of course win the FA Cup final.”

Coquelin has played a key role for Arsenal since returning from a loan spell with Charlton in December and the 23-year-old says he is glad to have taken the chance to prove his worth.

“I had no doubt about my qualities, but when you don’t have the chance to show what we can do, doubt can settle in,” he explained.

“But I had my chance, and it went well. In every big club, there is competition. You must answer to that when you have the chance to play, that’s what I do and I hope it will continue.”

Hazard is up there with Ronaldo and Messi, claims Mourinho

The 24-year-old has enjoyed a stellar season, scoring 18 goals and making 10 assists in all competitions as Chelsea close in on a first Premier League title since 2010

Hazard is up there with Ronaldo and Messi, claims Mourinho

Chelsea star Eden Hazard is among the best three players in the world, according to Jose Mourinho.

The 24-year-old has been nominated for the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year award after another fine Premier League campaign, notching 13 goals and eight assists in the competition alone.

Hazard was the hero again as Chelsea extended their lead at the top to 10 points after he scored the winner in his side’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

“He’s a kid, but he is also a family man and he knows he is one of the three best players in the world, responsibility comes with that and he is coping with that responsibility,” Mourinho told reporters.

“If people want to be fair, he gets that award [Player of the Year]. But the award I want him to win is the Premier League. I’ve had lots of stars, but he’s the humble star. He’s a great kid.

“Physically, mentally he’s getting very, very strong. He understands his role. He understands his talent is fundamental for the team.”