Mourinho to blame for unruly deeds
Chelsea manager is biggest culprit in bad behaviour and should set an example rather than encourage disorderly conduct
The week has been dominated by the sacking of Manchester United manager David Moyes, a termination that when announced did not shock the way we believed it might.
More were surprised by his appointment 10 months ago.
It was not so much the failure to secure Champions League football next season, more the lack of his ability to defeat last week the club from whence he came, Everton, who have improved greatly since he departed for Old Trafford.
The saga begs the question: what did Leighton Baines know that Marouane Fellaini clearly did not?
You would think United, with its aversion to the revolving door policy that so weakens other clubs, would wait until the season's end to dismiss their hapless manager and reboot the post Ferguson era.
Still, for many the wrong man was axed this week.
Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea, Rui Faria, displayed sackable, disgraceful behaviour at Blues' home loss to strugglers Sunderland last weekend.
Faria, Mourinho's faithful wingman, confronted referee Mike Dean who dared award Sunderland an 82nd-minute penalty at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta slide-tackled Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore, but did not touch the ball. Altidore's foot came down on Azpilicueta's leg, which led him to lose balance and fall.
Linesman Stuart Bird was right to raise his flag and signal a foul. Dean was equally correct to point to the spot because even if he missed the challenge or could not call it correctly, he must be seen to trust his assistants and back them.
Fabio Borini, the former Chelsea player on loan to the struggling Black Cats, duly converted - throwing the Wear-siders an unexpected three-point lifeline. The penalty ended Mourinho's cherished 77-game unbeaten home run and struck a severe dent to the Blues' title winning bid.
What followed was beyond the pale. Faria let rip at the fourth official and later Dean, threatening to physically attack them. He had to be restrained by Mourinho, who grabbed him by the hair and thrust him towards the tunnel's entrance.
What was disturbing was not only the physicality - the thuggish, hooligan demeanour - of Faria's confrontation, but the stark evidence of the scandalous lack of discipline that plagues the Chelsea dressing room.
Forget the "masterful" display during the difficult midweek 0-0 first leg away against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final.
The delinquency that hides behind the macho swagger of the "little horse" team is Mourinho's fault. As the pressure has mounted, he has failed to crack the whip and instil discipline among his charges, so allowing negativity to fester.
If Chelsea fail to win the EPL this season, it will be because of the club's self-destructing tendency.
How is it that a team who brushes aside Manchester City, Arsenal and have lost only once to those in the top eight fail the test against struggling Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland?
Mourinho fails to see wrong and his players, who follow his lead. He is the main culprit who shouts and screams about conspiracies and poor refereeing whenever his team loses or his players are cautioned. From the Chelsea technical area, he is chief among those who display verbal intimidation and threats - even towards ballboys.
In post-match press conferences, he expresses only sarcasm at the refs, yet never blames himself or his staff.
Granted, last month Willian was wrongly sent off at Villa Park. But in that game Ramires, a serial offender who slyly struck Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson in the face, committed a red-card foul against Villa's Karim El Ahmadi.
There is no excuse for players like Ramires. But rather like a quack lawyer loitering outside of criminal courts, Mourinho defends the indefensible.
Then as last week, Mourinho found fault with the officials and not with his wayward player. After challenging the refs, he was sent like a child from the stands.
He was fined a measly £8,000 (HK$104,000) by the spineless FA - akin to a playtime ban on the kindergarten naughty step - for his own bad behaviour.
But instead of taking his punishment like a man and as a professional, he snubbed his media obligations.
The trio - Mourinho, Faria and Ramires - have been charged with improper and violent conduct respectively by the FA, with Ramires accepting a four-game ban and the punishments for the coaches still to be announced.
Discipline is vital in a title race, as well as for the EPL's image. If Chelsea fail to claim the crown this season it will because of Mourinho's misguided support of his delinquents and his failure to stamp out the goonish belligerence, including his own.
If he is allowing his staff to act with such nastiness, then the job of reigning in the rowdy mob will fall on the club's executives. Surely they must see that the prize as well as Chelsea's reputation is under threat because of the bad sportsmanship and petulance, the bans and fines that accompany every defeat.
Sunday's season decider at Anfield against league leaders Liverpool will be a test of not the just the players' skills and teamwork, but the manager's ability to ensure all behave like responsible adults they should be, and the highly paid, professionals they claim they are.
Because if the last few weeks is how the game's ultimate trophy hunter and his inner circle behave after suffering one season without a top prize, what must they be like when deprived of any reward after two?