Confident Kenyon ups the ante for Mourinho
Inadvertently or otherwise Peter Kenyon has raised the stakes for Jose Mourinho by declaring that Chelsea need to win the Champions League twice – not just once – in the next six years if they are to fulfil the ambitions of the club's owner, Roman Abramovich.
It is the kind of comment, suffused with an unconscious arrogance, that usually draws a memorable response from Mourinho, especially as the club's chief executive also said that the success needed to be achieved with " style" – the buzzword de jour at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho did not disappoint yesterday. With customary pragmatism he was dismissive of Kenyon's argument, without criticising him directly, by saying all that mattered was that Chelsea won their next game. He was also equally dismissive of the demand for flair. "It's not important how we play," Mourinho said.
But there was also a colourful interpretation of the injury problems which, once again, are affecting his expensively assembled squad, even if he stopped short of saying they are, once again, playing what he terms " survival" football. Mourinho confirmed that Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard would miss tonight's Group B Champions League tie at home to Rosenborg, with the former also appearing to be a severe doubt for next Sunday's Premier League encounter with Manchester United.
With Michael Ballack and Ricardo Carvalho also out, Mourinho said he was now lacking the spine of his team – John Terry may query that one – and also raised doubts about the calibre of their replacements. "You know, omelettes, eggs," he said. "If you have no eggs, you have no omelette. And it depends upon the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket you have Class One, Class Two and Class Three eggs. And some are more expensive than others, and some give you better omelettes. So when the Class One eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem."
Except, as was quickly pointed out to him yesterday, Chelsea, with the hundreds of millions Abramovich has committed, have been shopping at Harrods, never mind Waitrose. Mourinho's was hardly a cracking argument – but it was one that implied he had been denied the chance to shop where he wanted this summer. Daniel Alves springs to mind on that one.
But even if the spending may have dried up this summer, rest assured that the wages Steve Sidwell, Claudio Pizarro – also injured – and so on are being paid is more than was on offer elsewhere. And how will they respond to being deemed second- or even third-class?
Goodness knows what class Mourinho would place Andrei Shevchenko in. The £30m striker is certainly third-choice behind Drogba and Pizarro and his display against Blackburn was not even deemed worthy of public judgement by Mourinho. He claimed he had "faith" in the Ukrainian, but said: " I know what you want, but you saw the same game that I saw and you can write what you think. You don't need me to give you my opinion."
Kenyon's comments came in a new documentary film about Chelsea, Blue Revolution, that is released next week. "We had a 10-year vision for the club," Kenyon, who arrived in 2003, said. "It was about building a team that was successful, not once but consistently. Over a 10-year period, you need two European Cups to be a world club. You have to dominate your domestic league. We will win the Champions League. It's just when is the question."
If that was an echo of his earlier crass declaration that Chelsea were set to be in a "bunch of one" in the Premier League, then it was especially so as they have gone backwards in Europe.
Kenyon's desire for more exciting football reflects an accusation levelled at Mourinho from other quarters, including Abramovich's associates last season. "It's about building and it's about winning it in a style which I think is befitting of the best clubs in Europe," Kenyon said.
However, he insisted that Mourinho had everyone's support, describing the manager as possessing "some of the same qualities as Alex Ferguson. He's a winner and we were lucky enough to get him". Kenyon added: " There's loads of speculation that if we don't win, Jose gets fired. That's not the way we think."
Kenyon said of the Chelsea owner that "he's passionate about Chelsea. He's passionate about ... how we are perceived, how we do things. He's stylish in that sense. If we win, we want to win stylishly."
It is inconceivable that Chelsea will not win tonight in what is Mourinho's 50th match in the Champions League. The Norwegian champions lie fifth in their domestic league and on their previous two visits to England in this competition – against Blackburn and Arsenal – conceded a total of nine goals. Mourinho said, however, that, with 12,000 tickets still to be sold yesterday, he was worried about the stadium not being full. Maybe it is time, therefore, for his team to turn on the style.
Chelsea (probable, 4-4-2): Cech; Beletti, Alex, Terry, A Cole; Wright-Phillips, Mikel, Essien, Malouda; Kalou, Shevchenko.
Rosenborg (probable, 4-3-3): Hirschfeld; Strand, Koppinen, Basma, Dorsin; Sapara, Riseth, Tettey; Iversen, Kone, Traore.
Referee: L Duhamel.