Fans, media, pundits are sniping from every corner at Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. It's the national past-time within the national game. Trolls like Dietmar Hamann get trotted out on national hot talk radio. Phrases like "cultural terrorist" are invented in a Matthew Syed wet dream. Not that Mourinho should be immune to criticism, but it sure seems like regardless of what he does or doesn't do, he will come under fire. Keep faith with the usual team? Rotate and try new players? Switch strategies? Blame players? Protect players? Call out names? Go into details? Keep it vague and not reveal anything? Say things? Not say things? None of that seems to matter.
And so it was that Mourinho's decision to take off Nemanja Matic in the second half against Southampton after originally bringing him on as a substitute at half-time was deemed a "humiliation". Mourinho explained it as a tactical move, but had clearly he lost his mind and Matic must have been fuming, right? Add in the specific, public criticisms of Matic's game by the Chelsea manager and the damage was already clearly irreparable, right? Right?!
"I am professional and I respect all decisions of the coach. In my life I have never had a problem with any coach because all coaches respect that I am very professional. I do my best."
"So with Mourinho it is the same. He knows he can count on me always. He respects that, I respect not only him but all coaches which I've had in my life. I always try to learn something from them. I will keep it like this until the end of my career. Every day is a new experience."
-Nemanja Matic; source: Guardian
As has been the theme from the Chelsea camp for some time now, we're all professionals. We can deal with criticism without making everything out to be most sensationalist conflict ever. Nowadays, we don't even fire managers (well, at least one particular manager) for a run of really poor results!
"Against Dynamo I think I did what he wanted, what he asked from me. So you have to ask him again, if he is happy with my game. Again I can say only that I try always to give my best. Of course confidence has not been high, but not only for me. The team is not in a good position in the Premier League. I think that is very difficult for us."
"But, game by game, we will be better and better because we have quality. We work very hard, we deserve more, so we will see in the future what we can do. We have to show that we are a team, because individually we can't do anything. Football is a collective sport. But we won the Premier League and the League Cup with the manager [last season]. We did great things together. I am sure we will continue: maybe this year we will win something also."
-Nemanja Matic; source: Guardian
We already know that Mourinho was absolutely elated by Matic's performane, and most observers agreed as well.
Every once in a while, there may be some harsh words and some unhappiness around. Especially when results are going the way we're intending them to go. Fortunately we're not babies and we can deal with most issues in the squad as grown-up adults would in real life. And when the results come around as well, we can go back to being happy, too.
"I will be happy when we get out of the group and get closer to the top of the Premier League."
-Nemanja Matic; source: Chelsea FC