Monday 19 March 2018

Mourinho still on Chelsea 'pedestal'

Jose Mourinho is still revered in Stamford Bridge. Photo: Getty Images
Jose Mourinho is still revered in Stamford Bridge. Photo: Getty Images

Jose Mourinho continues to be revered at Stamford Bridge with some fans still mystified by his exit, according to the chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group.

Mourinho spent three trophy-laden seasons with the Blues between 2004-07, winning two Barclays Premier League titles, an FA Cup and the Carling Cup twice.

On Tuesday, the 47-year-old returns to the club he served with such distinction for the first time with Inter Milan seeking to build on the 2-1 lead they established in the first leg of their Champions League clash at the San Siro.

Group chair Trizia Fiorellino insists Mourinho is cherished by supporters because of the success he brought to the club, and questions the manner of his departure.

"Most of us hold him up on a pedestal," she said. "He's a legend to us, particularly for fans of my age who had been watching Chelsea for around 35 years.

"Most of us had resigned ourselves to never winning the league. Before he came we were used to decades of mid-table mediocrity and the odd flirtation with relegation

"When he won the league so quickly it propelled him to legendary status.

"He was bit of an unknown quantity when he arrived as we knew Sven-Goran Eriksson was the first choice, but many Chelsea fans felt relieved to have dodged the Eriksson bullet.

"We started winning game after game and players who had under-performed before starting playing like world-beaters.

"I couldn't believe it when he left - I liken it to the man who (chose not to sign) the Beatles.

"We had the most successful, in-demand manager in the world at the time and we sacked him. We sacked him, whatever the club or Mourinho might say.

"Results had gone against us on the pitch but that was his first blip since he'd been at the club.

"The Chelsea hierarchy must look at themselves and think 'what did we do?' because what followed was just appalling.

"If he'd stayed with us and (owner) Roman Abramovich had backed him with some money, he could have built a dynasty to rival Manchester United's.

"There were players who didn't like him, but guys like Joe Cole and Frank Lampard played their best football under him."

Mourinho relished playing mind games with his rivals but often attracted criticism for overstepping the mark.

Fiorellino, however, insists there was always method behind any controversy whipped up by a manager who dubbed himself the 'Special One'.

"Some people didn't like his theatrics but they added to the man and put Chelsea on the map," she said.

"It was naive to criticise him for what he said as it was pretty evident what he was doing - creating a siege mentality within the squad.

"His most outrageous comments always followed a bad performance and he was obviously trying to distract attention from that.

"There was a element of self-interest there - he did love himself a lot - but he put us on the front and back page and made us hot property."

Fiorellino believes Mourinho's achievements have been put into perspective by the lack of success since and insists a question mark hangs over current boss Carlo Ancelotti.

"Avram Grant was a patsy whose biggest achievement was he didn't change anything," she said.

"We reached the Champions League final under him but that was because the system set up by Mourinho was still in place.

"Luiz Felipe Scolari was a sad story and we loved Guus Hiddink.

"Now we have Ancelotti, who the jury is still out on. We might be top of the league, but United and Arsenal have been very wasteful."

Press Association

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