Michael Essien’s horror tackle on Dietmar Hamman has become the main talking point from Liverpool’s successful mission against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It’s been described as a career-ending tackle by some, and for Liverpool’s tough German midfielder he can’t remember being on the receiving end of anything as bad in his whole career. Didi said: “It was the worst tackle I’ve ever been on the receiving end of, and he didn’t even apologise afterwards. I really feared I had broken my leg, thankfully it is only bad bruising.”
The pressures of management at Chelsea seem to have hit Jose Mourinho badly. His eyesight has deteriorated at an alarming rate from what he has been saying. In the Champions League semi-final at Anfield last season, Mourinho was confident enough in his own eyesight to be able to say that Luis Garcia’s goal hadn’t crossed the goal line at the Kop end, before seeing any replays. Now, just months later, the Chelsea boss was unable to see an incident that happened right in front of him just yards from the technical area at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho was asked after the match for his views on the tackle, but claimed his eyes had let him down: “I did not see the incident so I cannot give an opinion.” It’s not like Mourinho to decline the opportunity to give his opinion, so he decided to have a go at Rafael Benitez instead: “I was telling him he was crying all game, I told him it was enough and to give it a rest. They needed to sit down a little bit and relax.”
Continuing to try and turn attention away from Essien’s disgraceful act, he also took a chance to have a go at referees and Manchester City’s manager too: “Referees are always strong and put me in my place but other managers can do what they want. Imagine if Jose Mourinho had done what Stuart Pearce did against Blackburn, it would have been a three-month ban for me."
Benitez was interviewed later and he was amazed at Mourinho’s optical difficulties: “It was in front of the bench! Sometimes you can’t see a penalty because it’s too far away, but in front of the bench?”
For Rafa it was clear enough in real time in front of him, but on replays afterwards he was surprised that his midfielder hadn’t been hurt any more: “I could see the tackle – it was in front of the bench and I could also see the leg of Didi Hamann. You can see on the video that it is clear. Maybe Hamann was fortunate to be able to carry on. My opinion is clear though. I prefer not to say what I think.”
As for Mourinho’s comments about Liverpool ‘crying’, Rafa said: “I think that he talks a lot. He said the things he needed to say but I prefer not to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about things that are so clear.”
Essien caught Bolton Wanderers defender Tal Ben Haim in a similar way earlier in the season, and was only booked amidst a lot of controversy.
The possible problems with eyesight for Jose could help explain other strange comments and incidents surrounding the former Porto boss. At the Millennium Stadium last season he turned to Liverpool fans to “shush” them, but after the game claimed he’d been actually directing it at the press. The Liverpool fans were just yards away from him, wearing Liverpool shirts / scarves / hats, yet he thought they were journalists. With last night’s incident also just yards away from him, maybe he’s just long-sighted. And unhappy to lose out in Europe to Liverpool. Again.