Twice in the past twelve months, Chelsea Football Club have brought in someone whose history involves publicly criticising the club. The reaction to Rafa Benitez being hired as interim manager was both ferocious and highly understandable, but new signing Samuel Eto'o also had some pretty incendiary things to say about the Blues back in the day.
To the quotes!
Never will I sign for a team trained by Mourinho. He wrecked things completely with his behaviour surrounding the two games between our sides.
-Source: Sky Sports.
There's also some suggestion that he said something along the lines of...
I’d rather sell groundnuts in my village than to play for a pathetic team like Chelsea.
-Source: 101 Great Goals.
...but I'm having trouble digging up original reports of that one from the supposed time of quoting. Either way, it's fairly clear that Samuel Eto'o was not a big fan of Chelsea while at Barcelona.
That's led to a frosty reception from some Blues fans with long memories, and that's reasonable enough. It's difficult to embrace someone who disliked you so publicly, and we certainly didn't take kindly to Benitez's arrival last season. So what's the difference here? Is there a difference?
My feeling is that we should give Eto'o a break, for two reasons. First all, he's a player, and we should expect players to be a little more emotional than opposition managers, especially while they're preparing for combat.
But that pales in comparison to the simple fact that he's seen the light. After working with Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan, Eto'o has become a convert to the Mourinho's way. After all, he said the reason he's at Chelsea now is because of who the manager is, which means he's obviously had a change of heart (even if he's never offered an explicit apology). This isn't just a job for him.
Can we forgive Eto'o for being a jerk before he saw the light? I think so. But your mileage may vary.