In the aftermath of an Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Barcelona, the Independent’s James Lawton writes, “In all the excoriation of those at Chelsea who reminded us again that all the money in the world doesn’t necessarily buy even a hint of style or grace it was a little odd there was no mention of Jose Mourinho.” Yes, despite being 3 managers removed from The Special One’s reign, he’s apparently a perfect scapegoat.
What we saw on Wednesday night was the worst of what Chelsea has come to mean in the Abramovich years… arrogance provoking huge disrespect for almost anything or anyone not enshrined in the club’s own set of values.
Where does Abramovich go for his counsel? Before Wednesday’s lapse, you would have said Gus Hiddink was the soundest source of good advice. A man of the world, a stickler for basic discipline, he seemed to be selling more than the blue jerseys when he offered what seemed distressingly like credence to the wild talk of a Uefa conspiracy to create a dream final of Manchester United and Barcelona.
Whoever he chooses, however, Abramovich has to make an even more fundamental decision. He has to resolve that wherever Chelsea go the journey has to include the widest berth around the legacy of Mourinho.
It is not a good legacy, whatever his idolaters say. Apart from the overweening ego, the willingness to play with the truth whatever the consequences, there was the important matter of the football. It was powerful, well-organised football that brought him the Champions League title with Porto and caught Manchester United off guard when his impact was most fresh and his autonomy at its height. But it was never going to placate Abramovich’s fantasy of owning a dream team, an all-winning example of the kind of exquisite football BarÃ§a reeled off at the Bernabeu last Saturday and will seek to reproduce against United in Rome later this month.