Complaining about the schedule is one of the basic responsibilities of any football manager. But as with any job, some do the bare minimum, while others commit more fully and take it to the next level. And then there are the true artists, the José Mourinhos of the complaints department.
Here’s the master at work after last night’s rather poor 1-0 home defeat suffered in the Champions League Round of 16, as he was reminded that barely 60 hours after the final whistle, he will have to be at Stamford Bridge for Saturday’s early kick-off.
“But here we go, and Chelsea drinking sparkling water with lemon and watching the game on TV. On Saturday morning, thank you very much for the choice, Saturday morning we are there again.”
(No, but seriously, who schedules this nonsense?)
For the full effect, you have to watch of course. It starts around the 3:45-mark of his post-match interview with BT Sport, who ironically will be carrying the game on Saturday as well (and thus probably were the ones who decided to move it to that early time slot.)
As amusing as all that is, Mourinho of course has a valid point, as he often does, and he will feel extra aggrieved — as he so often does — given his squad’s injury and fitness problems, which may be even greater than Chelsea’s. There’s a good chance that neither team will be able to call on their best striker (Harry Kane and Tammy Abraham), their most dangerous attacking player (Son Heung-min and Christian Pulisic), or their most potentially dominant midfielder (Tanguy Ndombélé and N’Golo Kanté).
“This is our situation, it’s like going to a fight with a gun without bullets. So, we did what we could do, and I think if we scored before them the game would be different. You can tell me we had luck in some moments, but I disagree.
“What I’m worried about is not the 1-0, because that is an open result, we can go there and win the tie. What worries me is that these are our players for the next... I don’t know how many matches. We have to play in two days again.
“We could see Lucas absolutely dead, [Steven] Bergwijn absolutely dead, [Giovani] Lo Celso dead. We are really in trouble. If this was just for this game, I would say: ‘Okay no problem, 1-0, everything is open’. What worries me is that we have Premier League and FA Cup to play in too and that is our situation.”
-José Mourinho; source: BT Sport via Goal
Mourinho may have his back to the wall, but that just makes him more dangerous. And he’s got his excuses built in already.
Leipzig may have dealt with Spurs’ counter-attacks well enough. I’m not sure we can be confident of Chelsea doing the same on Saturday.