Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green : Mourinho may not be pulling the strings

I haven't paid up yet but I certainly lost the bet I had with my colleague Mike Ingham. Jose Mourinho is still manager of Chelsea when, to me, every sign pointed to his exit at the end of last season.

Yet, I refuse to believe that all is well with his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

I sat in the pressroom at Old Trafford last Sunday watching the Birmingham game on television and I could scarcely believe my eyes.

That expansive Chelsea approach, 4-4-2 with genuine wingers in Wright-Phillips and Malouda whose defensive roles were non-existent, is surely anathema to everything that the Portuguese coach stands for?

Think back to his first season in west London when, yes, Duff and Robben played wide but only when supported by a hugely solid midfield and the meanest of defences - one that would never have conceded two goals at home to a side fresh from the Championship.

I used to admire how Chelsea would take the lead in a game and then totally stifle the opposition.

Football isn't always or only about swash-buckling attacking play.

I'd like to think I appreciate an outstanding defender just as much as a goal-scoring striker.

So what's this all about? Is it an attempt to appease Roman Abramovich who appears to rank 'style' alongside, if not more important than, winning trophies?

Mourinho is having to accept much nowadays that was once unacceptable.

I can't imagine, even a year ago, that he'd have stayed silent on hearing that Jurgen Klinsmann had been approached to take over at Chelsea and had declined the invitation.

How humiliating - your job being touted around while you're still in it.

I'd love to know what's going on in Jose's mind. He can't be desperate for a job.

His record at Chelsea and, before that, at Porto is fantastic.

The highest profile clubs would be queuing up for his services if he became available.

Is it that he's so anxious to regain the Premier League title?

Or, and I think this is nearer the mark, does he want to win the Champions League with two different clubs?

I believe Chelsea are amongst the favourites this season.

While many tip Barcelona and Manchester United, I believe it's only a question of Mourinho fine-tuning his resources to land club football's biggest prize.

However, if it really is a change of heart with regard to the way he wants his team to play then it's a dangerous move.

It doesn't come naturally to him and, though it may come off, just about, against the likes of Birmingham and Reading, will he really do likewise at Anfield tomorrow?

Now, that's a real test.

Hammers fans need to Curb calls for the axe

The first edition of Saturday 6-0-6 this season brought the first demands for managers to be sacked with West Ham's Alan Curbishley topping the bill.

I always find that fans of the Hammers are amongst the quickest to go over the top about a result.

Must be in the East End blood.

But it's total bonkers - as crazy as the decision of the Carlisle board to dismiss Neil McDonald barely 24 hours into the new campaign.

Anyone ever heard of patience?

Forgive me if I'm stating the obvious but the longest serving manager in English football is Sir Alex Ferguson.

He may be someone I'll never pass the time of day with - his decision, not mine - but that never lessens the respect I have for him and it's impossible to argue a case against his nine Premier League titles.

Yet, he could easily have been dismissed before he won his first.

So, United have only drawn their first two games.

Anyone thinking of calling me tonight to demand Fergie's head should think again.

Keep the wags out of the press

Too much publicity, more than he'd have wished, was given to Roy Keane's remarks about WAGs.

After all, the astute Sunderland boss had already reached the correct conclusion that any player so 'soft and weak' to submit to his partner's wish to shop in London isn't someone he'd be interested in signing anyway.

However, it made me wonder just why so many newspapers are fixated with these beings.

Apart from the mentally unhinged, who's really interested?

Each time I see Posh's skinny figure, Colleen's smile, Alex's tips - yes, I did spell that correctly - I quickly turn to the next page.

It's paper fit only for the loo and I wish editors would wise up.

His dog, certainly, but I don't think I've ever seen a photograph of Roy Keane's wife.

It's how he wants it and how it should be.


From Belfast Telegraph