Did Jose Mourinho Deserve Abuse? Chelsea Influencers Have Their Say
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It was a game that saw Chelsea progress to the FA Cup semi-finals, but Monday night’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge will be remembered for something a whole lot different.
Was it the night we saw Chelsea fans end their love affair with Mourinho for good?
Once a hero in west London, Mourinho’s reputation has felt different since he was sacked in December 2015. Despite winning three Premier League titles, three League Cups and the FA Cup with Chelsea over two spells as manager, the Portuguese was the target of some jeers at Stamford Bridge.
A minority of those went so far as to label him a traitor because he was in the United dugout and leading a rival club as boss.
“[Chelsea fans] can call me what they want,” Mourinho told reporters after the game, trying his best to appear unaffected by the reception he was given. “I am a professional. I defend my club. Until the moment [Chelsea] have a manager who wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’m the No. 1.
“When they have somebody who wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’ll be No. 2. For this moment, Judas is No. 1.”
It was a typically bullish response from Mourinho. He’s celebrated his Special One persona for too long for it to be tarnished by Chelsea fans forgetting what he achieved with the club.
But is any of that important now that he is wearing United colours? Should Chelsea supporters pay Mourinho the same respect they did when he was in charge at Stamford Bridge? Is his legacy in danger of being damaged beyond repair?
Or does he deserve better for all he achieved? Should a man of his standing not have to face cries of “Judas?”
Bleacher Report speaks to a cross section of Chelsea fans to get the views on what it all means for the man they once adored.
Is Jose Destroying His Chelsea Legacy?
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With the barbs Mourinho has thrown at Chelsea in recent weeks, it was only a matter of time before Blues fans would react.
Whether it be from outsiders or club legends, few supporters like hearing their club being criticised. Mourinho hasn’t weighed in as heavily as he has in the past with the likes of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, yet his comments about Chelsea’s style of play and a perceived favourable fixture list have all made the headlines.
With his track record, we can confidently surmise Mourinho has been attempting to derail his former club’s title push. Ahead of the FA Cup clash at Stamford Bridge, it was his aim to get a rise from successor Antonio Conte.
The only reaction we saw was on the pitch, though. Conte’s side dominated United, with or without Ander Herrera’s dismissal. Mourinho’s tactics failed in that regard, and save for the small chorus of jeers aimed at him, it seems Chelsea supporters haven’t completely turned on Mourinho by forgetting all the good he did during his two spells as boss.
His reputation remains intact. For now.
“It is hard to destroy a legacy as strong as Mourinho’s, as the memories of each title he won with Chelsea will always remain,” says Ceri Levy from popular podcast The Chels.
“I actually think it is a small number of fans who are trying to damage his legacy in the same way some fans tried to turn on Frank Lampard the day he pulled on a Manchester City shirt and then promptly scored against Chelsea.
“Does an act in the present really affect the past? I don’t think it should do, but a percentage of fans will always desire something to rail against. For now, Mourinho manages a great rival, but one day he won’t be at Old Trafford. Then, all that will remain is the past and the trophies won. And with hindsight, Chelsea fans will be grateful for all that Jose did for the club.”
Is It Right Jose Was Labelled ‘Judas?’
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Mourinho didn’t dodge the Judas references in his post-match press conference on Monday. Rather, he celebrated them almost, using the notion to goad Chelsea fans in the way he likes to do.
By suggesting he remains the club’s No. 1—statistically, that can’t be debated—he was turning the argument back on to them, suggesting he deserves more respect.
For Chelsea fans, however, it’s not what Mourinho achieved with the club that is important. It’s something a whole lot more, notably his behaviour in the weeks and months before his dismissal in December 2015 and since he was appointed Manchester United manager last summer.
“We’ve had the hard Mexit where Jose is concerned,” David Johnstone, who edits the hugely popular cfcuk fanzine, tells Bleacher Report. “The divorce settlement is final, and he isn’t Chelsea manager anymore.
“Let’s get it straight, though, it was a very small minority of fans that called him ‘Judas’ on Monday. I was in the Matthew Harding Stand, and there weren’t any chants directed at him from there.
“Jose helped put Chelsea on the map, but we also made him what he would become. It was an equal relationship in his first spell as manager, and it worked. When he came back, things were different and he made some bad decisions.
“He’s wrong to call Antonio Conte out on the style of football Chelsea play. Before he was sacked, he criticised the fans for the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge too, which wasn’t right.
“There will always be fans who want to criticise managers and former players, but a man of Mourinho’s standing really should just rise above it.”
Is Mourinho Important to Chelsea Fans Anymore?
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With the Conte love-in at Stamford Bridge showing little sign of abating, it raises the question of whether Chelsea fans should be concerning themselves with Mourinho anymore.
In the past, when things went wrong at Chelsea, there was a tendency for supporters to cast their minds back to Mourinho’s first spell, when he brought about a period of dominance that the Blues had never experienced.
His was a ghost that lurked for all the right reasons, but with Conte restoring Chelsea’s position at the top, Mourinho’s presence and any mention of him comes in negative tone. The club has moved on, and the fans should too.
“He’s a hard man not to like when he’s not your manager,” says actor Phil Daniels. “It was all a bit smiley at Stamford Bridge on Monday, and the argument about whether the majority of fans liked him or not never really got going. Chelsea were so dominant in the game against United, it meant everything was played out in good spirits.
“I never sang any of the ‘f–k off, Mourinho’ songs, but a lot of the younger fans did—more so than the older fans. He can be quite grating, so if you haven’t got that history with him, I can understand why some of the younger supporters were singing it.
“My view is that if he can’t take it, then don’t give it out. But he can handle anything that has been thrown at him.”
Has Jose Shown His True Colours Now (and They’re Not Blue)?
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In his two spells as Chelsea manager, Mourinho created a strong bond with Chelsea fans. It felt unique until Conte arrived with his antics on the sidelines that have so endeared him to those on the terraces.
The Italian’s popularity is already rivaling what Mourinho enjoyed at Stamford Bridge. What the Chelsea fans will appreciate most is that Conte is fighting the club’s battles in the same way they would; he’s doing it with his heart on his sleeve, pinning his colours firmly to the mast.
Cynics will suggest it’s not that difficult for Conte—Chelsea do share a similar shade of blue with Conte’s native Italy after all.
What we’ve seen with the new manager this season, though, is a complete indulgence in the club. He’s taken on everything in Chelsea’s culture and celebrated it. Conte hasn’t held back, and beside the fact he’s returned Chelsea to the top of the Premier League, the supporters love him for it.
Mourinho was no different. But now he’s wearing red and publicly calling Chelsea out, is there an element of the love affair of old being a facade? Was Mourinho ever as affectionate about Chelsea as he liked to make out?
“Jose has always been mercurial and has always put brand Mourinho front and centre of everything he does,” explains Andy Saunders, a PR consultant and season-ticket holder in Stamford Bridge’s West Stand.
“Am I surprised that he’s now kissing another team’s badge? Of course not. He’s just reverting to type. On a personal level, I find his behaviour somewhat tragic and lacking in class, but all the success that Chelsea are enjoying now? We’d have none if it without him—none of it.
“The three titles and all the cup competitions we won under his guidance propelled us into the elite echelons of world football, and those achievements demand a level of respect from all Chelsea fans. You don’t have to like him—heck, I don’t like him at the moment—but he is who he is.
“Jose hasn’t changed. He just manages someone else now, and his priorities and allegiances lie elsewhere.”
Are Chelsea Fans Being Too Sensitive? This Is Jose After All
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For all the talk of Mourinho’s jibes at Chelsea and the reaction toward him from a small group of supporters in the Blues’ 1-0 FA Cup win over United, have we witnessed an overreaction?
Granted, the vast majority of fans inside Stamford Bridge preferred to celebrate Conte than they did jeer Mourinho that night, yet recent headlines have caused some, shall we say, palpable discord between the ex-Chelsea boss and supporters.
There is a bitterness in the air, and it leaves a bad aftertaste given the history Mourinho and Chelsea share. Now he’s leading United into battle, what did Chelsea fans expect? That Mourinho would play nice and not try to gain the upper hand any way that he can?
This is Mourinho we’re talking about. He’s carved out a career of success that has involved no shortage of controversy, and he doesn’t mind telling the world how he feels. He’s as calculated in the press room as he is the dressing room, and Chelsea fans shouldn’t be expecting any special treatment.
“We are only seeing what Mourinho has always been,” says Simon Johnson of the Evening Standard. “The difference is that Chelsea are on the receiving end this time. Clearly there is an element of bitterness over the manner of his departure, and perhaps he’s a bit annoyed about all the praise that Antonio Conte is getting for the job he’s doing at Stamford Bridge while he struggles at Manchester United.
“But Chelsea fans should know his antics better than anyone and shouldn’t let the odd dig in their direction upset them. If anything, it’s a compliment!”
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.