Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Mourinho forced to backtrack after Samuel Eto'o remarks

WInners: Jose Mourinho and Samuel Eto'o lifted the Champions League crown together at Inter Milan in 2010

Jose Mourinho began yesterday with a lecture on the ethics of the media, a rebuke to the French broadcasters Canal Plus for recording a private conversation of his, in which he voiced an opinion everyone else has held for a while: that Chelsea really need a top-notch striker.

It was all a bit of an embarrassment, especially Mourinho's joke about doubts over the age of Samuel Eto'o, and the Chelsea manager was still chewing on what he considered a betrayal, 24 hours after the video was first uploaded online.

"It's a real disgrace," he said at his press conference at the team's base in Istanbul, of an informal chat recorded after he gave an interview to the French as part of a personal deal with the watch manufacturers Hublot.

It is unlikely that Canal Plus will find themselves welcomed into the Mourinho inner sanctum any time soon, whether he has an endorsement to promote or not.

Even by the standards of a deeply competitive industry, it was a cheap trick, reflected in the fact that Canal Plus later took the video down.

It had the unusual effect of placing Mourinho on the defensive, a position in which he has found himself a lot less than his team since his return to Chelsea in the summer.

The joke about the age of Eto'o was, he said, "from my perspective, obviously not a good one and obviously not something I would do in a serious way." He added: "First of all, because I don't make fun. Secondly, because if there are managers in the world who really defend their players, I'm obviously one of them."

He will need Eto'o again tonight against Galatasaray and there is understood to be no problem between player and manager over the issue.

Fernando Torres has not started a game for Mourinho since he returned from injury.

This is a tie that Mourinho and Chelsea are expected to win, even if they are up against a side with an excellent home record and the familiar tag of the underdogs that Mourinho has pursued for so long, will not wash again if they fall to one of the less-fancied sides.

With Didier Drogba preparing for a hero's return to Stamford Bridge in three weeks' time and an old adversary in Roberto Mancini, this journey to Istanbul is not without potential pitfalls.

The pitch at the Türk Telekom Arena is bad and neither team trained there, Mourinho preferring to use the training ground of Super League club Kasimpasa.

He came to Istanbul last season with Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, having first beaten Fatih Terim's team 3-0 at the Bernabeu and lost the second leg 3-2.

Galatasaray beat Juventus here in December after the infamous snowstorm caused the game to be abandoned and then resumed a day later to earn their place in the last 16, a result in which Mourinho took special interest.

"Juve was a special situation because of the snow," Mourinho said. "But even in the first match, when there was no snow and they had to stop the game, the pitch was not in the best condition. I think it favours them because they are a very competitive side.

"They play with their strength and their experience, with their know-how.

"For my people, like Oscar and (Eden) Hazard, it is an experience to catch with both hands and learn."

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