How Jose Mourinho must have salivated at that Gareth Bale goal for his old boys, Real Madrid, and wished he had a player remotely capable of similar at Chelsea FC.
But it’s all very well for Sunderland supporters to mock. After all, we may not have many points but we have got Adam Johnson, Connor Wickham and Fabio Borini. They only have the likes of Demba Ba and Eden Hazard.
But this is not an exercise in gloating. We beat Chelsea, fair and square in my possibly partisan view, yet remain in deep trouble unless Gus Poyet can keep spirits up and complete a job that seemed beyond him less than a week ago. But Chelsea remain one of the top three clubs in England. They are in the semifinals of the Champions League.
I have no wish to see them win the Premier. If you had asked earlier in the season, I’d have rooted for Arsenal because I admire Arsene Wenger and the way he wants football to be played. They cannot now do it. Ask me now and there’s only one reply, and not just because my disloyal younger daughter supports them and Jordan Henderson plays there.
But without feeling any great warmth towards Chelsea, leaving aside the customary “some of best friends …” caveat, I will continue to wish them well in the CL, against Atletico Madrid as I did against PSG.
Now back to the Special One and his preposterous, babyish response to being beaten at Stamford Bridge by such lowly riffraff as Sunderland.
Here in France, Bruno Constant, my confrere at L’Equipe, observed that Mourinho had no more elegance in his explanation of the defeat than he had shown compassion towards Manuel Pellegrini (“loser”) or Wenger (“specialist in failure”). He quoted in full that sarcastic comment in which he congratulated his players “for doing all they could”, Sunderland “for winning – no matter how or why” and the referee, Mike Dean, for his “incredible performance”.
Now, we can be fairly sure the Special One was not suggesting Sunderland had turned universally predicted defeat into victory with a combination of grit, resilience and occasional flair.
Nor was he offering thanks to Dean for his extraordinarily benevolent view of the Ramires assault on Seb Larsson, maybe worth three or even six months in jail, not suspended, if the subject of a court case. He felt Chelsea were robbed and should have had at least half the countless free kicks and penalties his players tried to fool Dean into awarding. As for Ramires, well he’s just not “that sort of lad” however that translates into Portuguese.
But hang on. Let’s not to be too self-righteous. Mourinho is not paid to support Sunderland AFC any more that Wenger, when he “didn’t see”, has some sort of cast-iron obligation to criticise his own players’ comportment. We rightly castigated Paolo Di Canio for the lengths to which he took public rebuke of his wayward team. Why should we expect Mourinho to pay lip service to our feelings?
Did we really expect him to declare, ‘I fully recognise that as many independent pundits thought it was a penalty as thought it wasn’t’? Or to thank his lucky stars Ramires was not banned for the next three games, or banged up for GBH? Or to tickle our upturned tummies and say how plucky we were and how much he hopes we stay up?
Not his job.
So while I stand by what I said at ESPN of the Chelsea response to the penalty – “the histrionics in the Chelsea technical area, and Mourinho’s sarcastic postmatch comments, can safely be disregarded as the petulant rantings of men who assume victory is theirs by right” – that is not the same as bearing a long-term grudge.
I hope Chelsea win in Madrid and again in west London to have a crack at Real or Bayern, again, in the final. And that we are still in the same league come the evening of May 11.