Malcolm Dawson writes……Don’t tell the kids but Pete Sixsmith is often busy at this time of year spreading joy and happiness throughout the North East, dishing out all sorts of goodies from his sack. And today Jose Mourinho also got the sack although I can’t remember the last time I saw him spread any joy and happiness around. They say it was by mutual consent and at this time of peace and goodwill maybe that’s a way of sorting out the financial settlement owing to him. Pete has his own views on events at the Bridge and he’s not frightened to share them.
The second item on the Six O’Clock News tonight featured a middle aged man based in London falling out with a motley group of Europeans and ending up walking away. But enough of David Cameron and his travails with the massed ranks of the EU political leaders; the first item was the end of The Special One.
I am currently listening to 5Live which has gone into Jose Overdrive. There’s a lively discussion between journos and ex-players with contributions from the fans. In fact, it is reminiscent of what the Chelsea dressing room may well have been like as Mark Chapman tries to keep Chris Sutton and Rob Beasley, a Sun journo, apart. Both have different opinions; the Sun man blames the players while Sutton defends them and puts the responsibility on the manager.
And what does the Sage of Shildon, conspicuous by his absence from these pages recently, think? After much thought and consideration I have come to the conclusion that this is a sad day for football as The Special One leaves the club for which he was most suited.
No club in the country is disliked as much as Chelsea. No manager in the country was disliked as much as Mourinho was. They were an ideal fit. The self-styled Special One was loathed away from Stamford Bridge as much as the club that he represented are loathed by the majority of football supporters. Some of the loathing is based on envy- more is based on a genuine dislike of the people who own it, manage it, play for it and watch it.
Mourinho will be missed. He was good copy for the newspapers and especially the sycophantic bunch that followed him around and sniggered at his observations on football.
Whenever he criticised another club or another manager you could hear them chuckling away in the background, driving Jose into even more outrageous statements. Most managers will occasionally say that they were beaten by a better team on the day. They may say that they got the tactics wrong. They may even take some of the blame themselves. Not Jose. It is the referee’s fault. The other team parked the bus. The grass was too long. The ball persons cheated. The weather was poor. The moon was in the wrong house. The bus driver drove too slowly. The plane landed too bumpily. And so on and so on and so on.
In all of that it is never the other team that was better. When we won at Stamford Bridge in April 2014, not a word of praise for a battling performance, just a snarky attack on referee Mike Dean and an appalling display from a snarling oaf called Rui Faria, the Special One’s No 2 that was reminiscent of Chelsea fans from the 80s.
He will be missed by football writers, TV commentators and those Chelsea fans who have as much class as he has. The rest of us are pleased to see the back of him and hope that he is one European immigrant that will not be seen on these shores again. As for Saturday, there will be media frenzy around the game with journalists from all over the world converging on Stamford Bridge to get an earful of the reaction from the Chelsea support to Mourinho going. Our players will have to ignore all of this and focus on their jobs and make sure that the home team’s crisis is even deeper come 4.55 on Saturday. If the Chelsea players disliked Mourinho as much as we are led to believe, they should play with no pressure on them and that could be difficult for us.
On a normal day, the likes of Hazard, Ivanovic, Matic and Willian should be far too good for us. This will not be a normal day and the reaction of the crowd could well be crucial. Will they support the players or the manager? Will they turn on the owner? Will they refuse to handclap to The Terminator? And will they be even more miserable at the end of the game than they were at the start?
The answers to all this and much more will be revealed while I am trooping up and down the carriages of a train giving small children silver bells.
Ho, Ho, Ho.