On December 28, after the club’s draw against Southampton, Manager Jose Mourinho made comments to the press claiming a “campaign against Chelsea” which have now resulted in him being charged for misconduct by the Football Association (FA). The Chelsea boss has been here before. Just a week before, on December 22, he made pre-match comments which implored the referee to provide a “strong performance,” which prompted a formal warning from the FA. He may yet face further censure for comments after the January 1 defeat by the Tottenham Hotspurs blaming poor refereeing for that 5-3 result.
FA officials gave a statement claiming that Mourinho making allegations of this “campaign” being supposedly undertaken against Chelsea by media and other club managers constituted actions bringing the game into disrepute by implying bias or collusion. They further clarified, saying that even positive comments made before a match about the referees implied potential bias or influence and was not allowed.
Mourinho is not in unfamiliar territory. He is a favorite target for media wanting to get a juicy quote or controversial statement, but he is well aware of that. He is not a careless or unthinking man. To the contrary, with respect to football, he spends considerable time thinking and planning which is clearly evident in the creativity demonstrated on the pitch by the Chelsea squad. Mourinho is a master of misdirection, and his over-sharing during media sessions has more method than madness to it. Media attention tends to go exactly where he wants it, and that can not be a coincidence.
The Portuguese manager has a way of making himself the story. Looking at the way he handles his press interactions, there is a pattern of finding ways of handing out stories while giving the appearance of not wanting to do so. If he wants something implied, he simply says that he can not comment because he would “speak from his heart” and get in trouble if he did. A “no comment” from Mourinho almost always makes some commentary. He finds himself apologizing to the media for phone calls during a press conference just weeks before the trade window, and suddenly his “mistake” has everyone wondering what important calls he is receiving and speculating about his impending moves. If questions are going in a direction he does not like, he makes a bold accusation or inappropriate statement which sends the interview in a different direction. There may be consequences, such as with the current charges from the FA, but in general they have been minor and not worth altering his approach.
Whether using the excuse of language barrier or excess of emotion, the “bumbling manager” character that Mourinho plays for the press has kept him from significant harm over the years. He has honed it with a calculation that matches his scheming on the pitch. Mourinho has until 6 pm on January 13 to respond to the current charges from the FA. As the football world watches and wonders what will become of the “campaign on Chelsea” penalties or consequences, it begs a question. If the eyes of the media are on the FA case, it may well be that it is because that is where Mourinho wants them, and it might be of value to ask what it is he doesn’t want those prying eyes looking into.
Commentary By Jim Malone
Image courtesy of In Mou We Trust – Flickr License