Jose Mourinho is in trouble. He is in so much trouble that various, conflicting sources all appear to be saying he is in various situations, but each one of those situations, when lined up one by one and then viewed from space, align and spell out the word TROUBLE. You might think this is a great coincidence, but given that we are the ones telling you this lie, we get to specify just how the lie works. TROUBLE, this lie spells. And next week, the lie will spell CRISIS. The week after that, it will spell HORSE. You will just have to wait for the context to see how that makes sense. Remember, we make up the lies to support our own truth.
For this entry of the diary, let’s just look at the stories that make up the letter ‘B’ in TROUBLE, because they are the most interesting. You may have assumed that ‘T’ would’ve gotten the call, but that’s because your lie is much less imaginative than ours.
The big story is the legal action that former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro is taking against Mourinho. Not just against Chelsea, but Mourinho himself. It’s an unusual situation for the Chelsea boss, one that he has found impossible to extricate himself from as he usually does when he indulges in his standard nonsense. That’s because the Carneiro situation is about more than football. It happened in the real world where consequences affect people in a manner that can’t always be shrugged off.
Carneiro alleges that she was discriminated against because of her gender, if not by Chelsea, then certainly by the press and much of the public. Mourinho and Chelsea exposed her to that with their rough treatment of her for what was plainly a minor mistake, if it was a mistake at all. Mourinho’s reaction turned a doctor running on to the field to assist an injured player into a completely unnecessary circus.
That is what Mourinho does.
In the past, Mourinho has been able to stir up death threats against referees, he has driven Pep Guardiola into some forceful swearing, isolated Iker Casillas even after he stopped managing the club, and was rumored to have chinned a journalist when at Inter. All these things happened solely within the confines of acceptable football transgressions, and as annoying as people might have found him, they were standard football crimes—the ones people forget because others soon come along.
He has shown no signs of slowing this season. Mourinho has goaded Arsene Wenger every other week. Once for suggesting that Wenger is given far more wriggle room than other managers when it comes to discipline. That’s true save for one other manager: Mourinho himself. In reality, Mourinho does things which are eminently punishable far more often than Wenger.
He has also accused pundits of incompetence, referees of conspiracy, and his own players of not trying hard enough. There are roots of truth in these, in that pundits, referees, and players have all not been up to the standard we should all expect, but other managers face these same tribulations, and they have fought against those forces much better than Mourinho is doing at the moment.
Now with all of those problems, the one that matters the most on the pitch is whether the players can be bothered to try. This weekend, a story came out that one player spoke openly of preferring to lose than see Mourinho win. There is another rumour that a very senior player is at the very least sympathetic to that outlook. Meanwhile, John Terry is collapsing on the pitch, in the much the same way he has done when it seemed like he didn’t fancy whoever was in charge. Of course, this could really be the time that his body is starting to fail him. But it doesn’t really matter. Because of Terry’s wretched form, the defense no longer has a leader to drag the competent but guile-free Gary Cahill along with him, and a new right-back cannot be introduced from a position of strength.
It’s bad all across the field. The midfield of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic was replaced by the concept of relentless misery and fatigue. Diego Costa is still acting as a complete bellend—because that’s what he is—but he is no longer scoring enough to make the hassle worthwhile. Eden Hazard has gone stale like a waffle left out too long. They say that a dog and an owner grow to look like one another, and that appears to be happening with the team and the manager, as all their bad qualities are starting to merge into an amorphous pile of awful.
They are, of course, not solely made up of these negative characteristics (except John Terry, who is rumored to feature in Jon Ronson’s re-issued version of the Psychopath Test, in his own chapter). But when you see Mourinho, and you see Chelsea, there is fatigue, pettiness, self-regard, a tendency to lash out at those you should be working with, and a sense that doom is now escapable. It seems like Mourinho might be put out of his misery within the next week or two. It seems like the right decision now. HORSE.