Thursday 18 January 2018

Bizarre decisions put Mourinho under the microscope

Jose Mourinho (pictured) has still not dropped Branislav Ivanovic despite the player's run of poor form
Jose Mourinho (pictured) has still not dropped Branislav Ivanovic despite the player's run of poor form

Matt Law

Jose Mourinho is facing a battle to prove that he has not singled out the wrong players following Chelsea's disastrous start to the season.

The manager left Oscar, Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao in England for Chelsea's Champions League defeat against Porto, while John Terry, the captain, remained on the substitutes' bench.

However, to the disbelief of many people inside and outside Chelsea, Branislav Ivanovic is yet to pay the price for his dreadful form.

Terry was the only unused substitute to go back on to the pitch to warm down after the Porto game in what could be seen as a message to Mourinho. The Chelsea fans who had been kept behind inside the Estadio do Dragao chanted, "We want our captain back".

The decisions over Oscar, Remy and Terry, coupled with the fact that Ivanovic kept his place at right-back despite his poor performances and the growing belief that his focus has been affected by unresolved contract negotiations, sent shockwaves through the Chelsea squad.

Most of the stunned players found out that Oscar, Remy and Falcao were being left behind only hours before they flew to Porto on Monday afternoon.

With Chelsea in 14th place in the Premier League and now third in Group G of the Champions League, Mourinho's actions are facing greater scrutiny.

The Chelsea manager insisted that his team selection for Tuesday night was not a form of punishment for Oscar, Remy or on-loan Falcao, and the Portuguese has consistently refused to publicly criticise individuals this season.

However, having seen Mourinho complain about the "unstable attitudes" of some unnamed players, the view from inside the camp is that Oscar and Remy paid the price for the first-half display against Newcastle United last weekend, which Mourinho rated as "minus one."

Oscar and Remy are becoming increasingly resigned to the fact that they face uncertain futures at Chelsea while Mourinho is in charge.

Mourinho's reservations over Oscar have confused some of the Brazilian's team-mates, who believe the 24-year-old is vital to the side playing cohesively.

The situation regarding Ivanovic is even more puzzling, with the defender's future uncertain, even though Mourinho (below) keeps picking him.

It is not viewed as a coincidence that the form of 31-year-old Ivanovic dipped last season, when stories started to appear that he was unhappy with the prospect of being only a offered a one-year contract extension.

He was subsequently linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, but Chelsea called the defender's bluff by refusing to be panicked into accepting his demands and allowed the Serb to start this season with only 12 months remaining on his deal.

The negotiating position of Ivanovic has now been severely weakened by his poor performances and the fact that he has offered little evidence on the pitch that he is worthy of a long-term contract.

Unlike Ivanovic, Terry is philosophical over his contract situation after being made to wait until May and March to secure extensions for the past two years. The 34-year-old is far more focused on trying to win his place back and prove to Mourinho he is still the man for the big occasion - not least for his leadership qualities.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has been cleared by the English FA of making discriminatory comments to Chelsea's former club doctor Eva Carneiro during their match against Swansea on August 8.

Using an "independent academic expert in Portuguese linguistics", the FA analysed the footage and audio of what he said and found that they was no evidence "to support the conclusion that the words were directed at any person in particular".

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