‘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

Tactically outdated Mourinho must reinvent himself – just like Guardiola

COMMENT: The Special One has used the same 4-2-3-1 formation for the last five-and-a-half years but must modernise if he is to save his job and win more major trophies 

Tactically outdated Mourinho must reinvent himself - just like Guardiola

“During our first team meeting at Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho didn’t talk much about tactics. In tactical terms, you just have to look at how he eliminated Barcelona in the Champions League with Inter in 2010 by playing defensive, counter-attacking football. Despite all the talented players he has had at his disposal, the recent years have shown that he has probably become outdated tactically.”

This was the damning response of an ex-Mourinho player when asked by Goal if his former Madrid mentor was to blame for Chelsea’s disastrous season.

The player in question asked to remain anonymous – he is active and may have to work with Mourinho again. But he is not alone in his criticism of the Chelsea boss. There have been numerous theories as to why the flailing Premier League champions, who sit just two points above the relegation zone following Saturday’s humiliating home loss to Bournemouth, have collapsed so spectacularly this campaign.

Is Mourinho suffering from third season syndrome? Is the dressing room broken? Is a poor summer transfer market to blame? Did the controversial departure of first team doctor Eva Carneiro affect the squad?

However, the former Madrid player’s narrow focus – whether Mourinho has been at fault tactically – is not a question that has been explored in depth. There can be little argument that since taking over Real Madrid in 2010, Mourinho has not evolved in a strategic sense. During his three-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu and his two-and-a-half seasons back at Chelsea, he has almost always utilised his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

But this is a system that – despite emerging as the most popular and innovative formation of the new millennium – is now out of fashion among the elite. None of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus or Atletico Madrid use it. Carlo Ancelotti quickly abandoned it after succeeding Mourinho at Madrid, although the under-fire Rafa Benitez has flirted with its return this term.

The 4-2-3-1 is still relatively popular in the Premier League, so the formation alone cannot be used as an excuse for Chelsea’s dismal domestic form – even if it could help explain why English sides have flopped in Europe in the last few years. But it is just as much how Mourinho’s players interpret their roles within this system that is hurting Chelsea.

Jose’s obsession with fielding a team that is solid, organised and protected by a flat back four and two holding midfielders has not once wavered. Although Eden Hazard and Willian do have some licence to roam and switch flanks in offensive phases and Cesc Fabregas can act as a floating playmaker, the position of each player in the team is rigid. Each occupies a place on the right, the left or the centre and generally holds their position throughout the game. With such clear reference points, Chelsea are not only painfully pragmatic but also very predictable.

Top football teams today need to be far more flexible and expansive. They can’t use the same formation and occupy the same positions each game. If they do they will soon be found out, especially with so much technology and data available to analyse every movement on the pitch.

Pep Guardiola is surely the most advanced coach tactically right now. On Saturday, he selected the same Bayern Munich XI for the first time in 100 games. Last season, 10 of Mourinho’s team started at least 26 of their Premier League matches and three were ever-presents.

Attempting to decipher Pep’s formation on the pitch is virtually impossible. To Guardiola, there is no such thing as a set formation, it is all about interpreting space depending on the scenario and where the ball and opponents are. Then it is about exploiting this space by creating ‘passing lanes’ to provide multiple channels of attack in each move. As a result Bayern can line up at the centre circle in a 3-4-3 or 4-3-3, then 10 seconds later be attacking in a 2-3-5.

“We can play a back three or a back four, we can play with one or two support strikers, whatever,” captain Philipp Lahm told Goal last month. “I don’t know how many systems we have. Our game is very flexible in any case. [A formation to us] is often only about how you write in down.”

Guardiola is a proponent of total football. He demands that his players are comfortable in any area of the pitch – and that his defenders are just as proficient going forward as they are backwards. Compare David Alaba, Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng starting moves from deep and pushing into midfield with Chelsea’s John Terry, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma, who are incapable of crossing the halfway line unless it is to go up for a corner.

Then look at Diego Costa, a lone striker with little to no lateral or off-the-ball movement – once again an easy reference point for defenders unless he is in peak condition. A big hulking target man has been a favourite of Mourinho for most of his career, with Didier Drogba his crown jewel. But, this type of physical striker may also be going out of fashion.

The best team in the world, Barcelona, employ a trio of small, skilful, interchanging forwards. Manchester City have the premier attack in England with the pint-sized Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva buzzing around. Juventus and Atletico are building their futures around the tiny but incredibly talented Paulo Dybala and Antoine Griezmann, respectively. PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski may be big but they are technically the equal of anyone.

Guardiola’s philosophy that players and formations need to be eclectic and adaptable is catching on. Last season, Massimiliano Allegri won the domestic double and reached the Champions League final with Juventus by deploying numerous different systems. He regularly switched from a 4-3-1-2 to a 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-2-1 and 4-3-3 – often during the same game. This ability to “change the menu”, as Patrice Evra described it, is crucial.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have little variation to their play. Indeed, this season 13 of their 28 goals in the Premier League and Champions League have come from set pieces, while many others have been via deflections or goalkeeping gaffes. Very few have been well crafted.

“Juventus are developing a system that will be used by most of the big European teams in a couple of years,” former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli told Tuttosport.

“Juventus are at the vanguard: they use a hybrid tactical method that highlights the individual quality, even changing tactically during the course of a single move.”

Mourinho must also embrace this change. He cannot stand still. As Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli pointed out on Tuesday: “Guardiola is constantly developing tactically”. The legendary Sir Alex Ferguson was successful for so long because he was always evolving. He won the 1999 Champions League with a flat 4-4-2 formation, then changed to a 4-4-1-1, lifted another European title with a 4-3-3, before returning to a 4-4-2 to win his 13th and final Premier League title in 2013.

The 4-2-3-1 formation and Mourinho’s interpretation of it is simplistic and outdated. It is no coincidence that in the last five-and-a-half years he has won five trophies (including two trophyless campaigns and no European titles), compared to the 17 he bagged in the seven years prior – which comprised of six league championships, two Champions Leagues and a Uefa Cup.

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.

Jose Mourinho swore at Roberto Martinez following loss – sources

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho swore in a clash with Everton boss Roberto Martinez following his club’s loss at Goodison Park on Saturday, sources have confirmed.

Mourinho was, according to several newspapers including The Times and The Daily Telegraph, frustrated at having to wait to conduct his postmatch news conference because Martinez was speaking in the media room first.

After finishing his news conference, Martinez left the room and was speaking to other reporters outside when Mourinho walked past on his way in.

“Roberto next time tell me go before you because we have to travel,” Mourinho said.

“We don’t control that Jose, I don’t control that,” Martinez replied.

It is at this point that Mourinho swore as he continued his way into the media room.

Mourinho was accompanied by Chelsea’s head of communications and public affairs Steve Atkins.

As Mourinho sat down to speak to the press, there was a hint of frustration as Atkins first said a few words to reporters.

He said: “OK, if we could get going quickly that would be great. It is only going to be about five minutes long.

“We had to wait for the home manager to go first and all the players are on the bus, so we are going to be quick.”

Chelsea were beaten 3-1 by Everton, a result that left the Premier League champions with just four points from their first five games of the new season.

Mourinho on Pedro debut: It wasn’t quite Maradona, but it was close

The midweek arrival from Barcelona scored one and assisted another on his first outing for the Premier League champions, drawing special praise from his new manager

Mourinho on Pedro debut: It wasn't quite Maradona, but it was close

Jose Mourinho has compared Pedro to Diego Maradona after the new signing played a key role in Chelsea‘s first Premier League win of the season.

The £21 million arrival from Barcelona opened his account after less than 20 minutes, before assisting Diego Costa as the champions held off a resilient West Brom side to win 3-2 at the Hawthorns on Sunday.

Mourinho admitted to concern over how quickly Pedro would adapt to Premier League football, having spent his entire professional career with Barca, but never doubted the 28-year-old’s ability.

“He wasn’t quite Maradona but he was close,” Mourinho told Chelsea TV. “He’s a very good player. There is always a question mark because of how many top players come to England and don’t perform immediately.

“We have examples in our club and there are lots of examples at other clubs, so it’s very nice for him to come and straight away perform the way he did.

“I expected him to perform like that because he had a good pre-season, and he played three competitive matches. He came with minutes, with intensity, so it was not a question of intensity and condition, it was a question of understanding.

“We worked tactically every day since he arrived for him to try to understand the team and for the team to try to understand what he wants and needs. It was a very good performance.”

Pedro’s Barcelona farewell: Joining Chelsea a risk but I had to leave

The new Blues forward revealed his main motivation was to have regular playing time in a farewell press conference for his former side

Pedro's Barcelona farewell: Joining Chelsea a risk but I had to leave

New Chelsea winger Pedro reveals it was not money but the need to compete with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez for a starting spot at Barcelona that drove him to leave the Catalans.

The La Masia graduate won the treble last season and extended his contract at the club in June till 2019, but regularly had to settle for a spot on the bench as the Blaugrana‘s famed attacking triumvirate took centre-stage.

A long running transfer saga regarding the 28-year-old’s future came to a close when he opted to join Chelsea last Thursday, and Pedro has now revealed he left Barcelona in search of regular playing time.

“It was not about money. It was the need to play consistently,” he told assembled reporters at his farewell press conference in Barcelona.

“I’m sad in a way, to be leaving. There was an option to stay, that’s what the club wanted. I discussed it with everyone but the Chelsea offer attracted me.

“The easiest thing would have been to stay, it’s a difficult decision. I am taking a risk but I am decided.

“Barcelona is the best club in the world, there’s no other place like this. But I’ve joined a club I like and where I will play more. Last season was one of my worst, because there was a lot of competition and I didn’t have enough playing time.

“I’m ambitious and I knew it would be difficult to have a lot playing time here. I’m happy to have this new challenge.

“I was very flattered by the interest from some of England’s biggest clubs like Manchester United, City and Chelsea, but Chelsea’s offer convinced me most. I talked with [Blues coach] Jose Mourinho, it’s true he called me. I liked what he said. He convinced me.

“The atmosphere in the Premier League is fantastic, the stadiums are always full and it’s an attractive league for spectators.”

Pedro made an immediate impact on his debut with the English champions, scoring a goal and assisting another as his new team overcame West Brom 3-2 on Sunday.

Mourinho has gone too far with Carneiro treatment

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

Mourinho has gone too far with Carneiro treatment

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