InGoodConscience

Playing the blame game is Mourinho's big mistake

For a man who lives by the spotlight, Jose Mourinho's exit from the Chelsea he professed to love was particularly crass.

He had blamed the players for "betraying" him.

That word, betrayal, was the parting shot.

He is a vain man, not a stupid one. He does, often, speak through his ego rather than his brain, but Monday's words for the TV cameras were calculated and deliberate.

Mourinho knew by then that Roman Abramovich's acolytes had been instructed to remove him.

The Carneiro outburst was within a good club manager's powers to repair. But when Mourinho seethes and causes offence anywhere, anytime, he seems literally to find sorry the hardest word.

By saying that the players had failed to carry out his meticulous plan to stop Leicester City, he was already writing off his relationship with them.

By saying there and then that maybe he had overachieved by making them champions last season, he was in effect auditioning for his next job in English football.

There was certainly disaffection, combined with open dissent in the Chelsea ranks.

But I have suspected since Aug 8 that that dissent was brewing. It wasn't just a group of men but one specific woman, whose role at the club Mourinho crassly questioned and over-ruled.

When Eva Carneiro, the club doctor, ran onto the field (together with chief physiotherapist Jon Fearn) to treat Eden Hazard, they were obeying a calling higher even than Mourinho's diktat.

They saw an injured player, an apparently seriously injured player, lying supine on the turf.

They responded as medical personnel must.

Mourinho lost it on the touchline. He disgraced himself with his tantrum, shouting at the doctor, calling her names.

Carneiro is no shrinking violet.

Her feisty look told the world what she thought of the manager.

Heat of the kitchen stuff it may have been, but maybe cold, separate showers could have repaired the relationship.

But no way does Jose do apologies.

He was on television within minutes of the final whistle against Swansea, still calling the doctor and the physio impulsive and naive for rushing to a fallen star whom he (Mourinho) asserted anybody who knows the game could see was not seriously injured.

The two medics would not sit on "his" bench again.

Carneiro is suing the club for "constructive dismissal" and suing Mourinho for "victimisation" and "discrimination".

The case will be heard before a High Court judge on Jan 6 unless, with Mourinho gone, the club reach out to the doctor and quite possibly even take her back before then.

But am I perhaps making too much of Dr Carneiro's spat with Mourinho?

Look at it this way. Hazard was by most people's account (certainly Mourinho's) the outstanding player of the Premier League last season.

Mourinho almost called Hazard a Special One, a player he gave licence to perform with more freedom than the rigid demands he makes on the rest.

What was the manager - the irate manager - suggesting in August on the first day of the new season?

It could be that he thought Hazard was play-acting, that he had gone down without being hurt. Anyone who knows the game, Mourinho had stated, knew the true situation.

Alternatively, this was a manager who didn't care for the welfare of his player and whose own priority was playing on because Chelsea were chasing the game in those final few minutes.

Either way, Mourinho misjudged the situation, and continued to misjudge it by not negotiating a way for the senior medical staff of his club to return to work.

He said the bench, and all that happens around the team, was his responsibility.

But when players are injured and sidelined for any period of time, they are vulnerable creatures.

When a manager as self-centred as Mourinho ignores them and cuts the wounded from his "family" group, they need someone else to turn to in their isolation.

Often, the dependability on the medical staff is the strongest bond those sidelined players form.

At Chelsea, it was strengthened by the fact that if anyone in the players' own family circle - their wives, girlfriends, children - need a medical (or a psychological) shoulder to cry on, it is the club doctor who is there.

While Jose and his family slept, the phone often rang in the doctor's household. And she would be there, on house call.

Did being a woman make Dr Carneiro a Special One?

It should not have, and it clearly did not in terms of Mourinho letting rip at her in the same vituperative way he has done at selected male targets in the past.

The Carneiro outburst was within a good club manager's powers to repair. But when Mourinho seethes and causes offence anywhere, any time, he seems literally to find sorry the hardest word.

He never apologised for falsely accusing referee Anders Frisk of collaborating with Barcelona to eliminate Chelsea from the Champions League years ago. The referee quit when death threats were made to his family.

And Mourinho didn't ever say sorry to the Reading ambulance service for, again falsely, accusing them of being slow on the job when Petr Cech's skull was broken years ago. In fact, the call was not made because Chelsea, under a previous club doctor, misjudged the head injury.

And Mourinho never made his peace with Iker Casillas, the Real Madrid goalkeeper whom he ostracised for daring to address the players' request for dialogue over the negative tactics he imposed on the team.

It seems a permanent, incurable chink in Mourinho's very considerable armour. He clearly knows how to win.

He gives, and demands, absolute intensity, often making him and his team a fortress against the world.

And he wins - for a time.

But by not addressing situations that fester, and by his constant self-eulogy in victory, and blaming the players in defeat, he ultimately becomes a shallow man.

It is said, for a reason, that Mourinho is only a winner for a maximum of three years.

When Chelsea saw no way out other than to pay him off, he cleared his desk and took his personal belongings - including, it's said, a life-sized cardboard image of his favourite person: Jose Mourinho.

You hope they will be very happy together.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2015, with the headline 'Playing the blame game is Mourinho's big mistake'. Print Edition | Subscribe