The rivalry between Liverpool and Chelsea was already heightened before Sunday’s league fixture between the two sides, but after 90 more minutes of Chelsea “gamesmanship” followed by comments from Mourinho about how hard done-to his side were the rivalry has taken another step up.
Chelsea are widely believed to be leaving their pitch in a state resembling a farmer’s field not because they want to bring a bit of countryside to the capital but because they want to make life difficult for Barcelona when they meet again in the Champions League. Last season when the two sides met in the competition Mourinho had to resort to accusing the referee of cheating in the first leg so that he could put pressure on the referee for the second leg. There is no logical reason for the pitch to be in that state at this stage of the season – Portsmouth at least made an effort to replace theirs, what’s Chelsea’s excuse?
On that pitch on Sunday we saw more tactics from the Chelsea side designed to con the referee. That he fell for it all will give Alan Wiley nightmares, and if he’s got any self-respect he’ll admit he got a lot wrong on Sunday. Whether that will be in his report though remains doubtful. John Terry, Joe Cole and Arjen Robben are three names that spring to mind straight away as not only diving, but then also feigning serious injury in order to gain an advantage of some sort. Wiley fell for it all, which is a real pity in all honesty.
The pitch didn’t make the difference between the two sides, although
Chelsea have obviously got more experience than Liverpool of playing on
that type of surface. The cheating and diving only made a slight
difference, probably more by the fact that Chelsea seemed to be able to
get away with it leading to Liverpool frustration.
We can’t really work out why Chelsea feel they have to resort to
underhand tactics to ensure they win. Maybe Mourinho’s under a lot more
pressure than he lets on. For any manager with any self-respect it must
be frustrating to see your side winning all the time yet be told it’s
down to all the money that’s been spent by you. In fact Mourinho has
achieved a lot with Chelsea, he’s had to ensure that this expensive
squad were able to get on well with each other and work as a team. He
would still be deserving of respect for his achievements if money was
the only difference between him and the other managers in the top
flight. Unfortunately it isn’t the only difference. The pitch is one
example, as is the diving and “simulation” as FIFA like to call it
these days. Intimidatory comments from Mourinho in the press about
officials and opposition are something we grew used to with Alex
Ferguson. Accusations of tapping up players are whispered about going
on amongst just about all clubs, although other clubs seem to do it
within the spirit of the law. With Chelsea they’ve already had a
scandal involving themselves and Ashley Cole, had to get lawyers out to
explain why Rio Ferdinand was photographed in a restaurant with Peter
Kenyon, and are currently under scrutiny over the transfer of John Obi
Michel, a story that even has accusations of death threats running
What Chelsea are doing is to win things at all costs. Not just
financial costs either, they surely have no self-respect left any more.
Liverpool were linked with both Mourinho and Benítez prior to the two
coaches starting their jobs in England. Liverpool fans are grateful to
have been given Benítez, a manager that carries on the traditions that
Liverpool fans were brought up on. Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan
and Kenny Dalglish were all managers that brought a lot of success to
Anfield. Most people would be proud to have known any one of them. Next
week sees the tenth anniversary of Bob Paisley’s death, a date that
will see Liverpool fans remember someone special both on and off the
pitch. Unless he makes a dramatic change, and soon, nobody will be
looking back at Jose Mourinho’s coaching days with any fondness, and
they certainly won’t be remembering a man that was an ambassador to the
game of football. History is not just about the silverware in the
cupboard, it’s about the memories of how it was achieved. Chelsea fans
have to admit – they will be remembered in much the same way as Diego
Maradona is remembered in this country – without the good bits.
Remembered more for “hand of God” and too much self-indulgence than
from any silky skills or sublime touches.