Why Chelsea have proved player power can be a good thing

There’s a growing concern that player’s in today’s game wield too much influence over dressing rooms and are no longer accountable for bad results.

They are seen as overpaid prima donnas, able to pass the buck onto their manager. The latest victim of the movement is Jose Mourinho. Despite being one of the world’s most successful coaches he seemingly lost support from influential members of his squad. On this occasion player power may have been a force for good.

It’s only in England that player power is becoming more prominent. Back during Real Madrid’s Galacticos era, it was rumoured that if Raul didn’t like the team selection the manager would have to alter it. Those that failed to comply never lasted long at the Bernabeu. The adage has always been true that if a team has lost faith in the manager then it’s inevitable the chairman will replace the man in the dugout.

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In England this was always about results. A team that was deflated would need a change to help matters. Often it makes sense to replace a directionless manager. It’s rare to see a full-blown mutiny on these shores. But that’s what we were treated to at Stamford Bridge.

The fans may continue to chant Jose’s name (it’ll be interesting to see if that’s the case if he occupies the rival dugout in few games from now) but they should take a moment to consider the bigger picture.

What would make a team of defending champions turn against the most successful manager in the club’s history?

It can’t be his varied and obtuse television interviews. Since returning to the Premier League his charisma from yesteryear had been replaced with the ramblings of a madman. There’s no doubt he’s the master of deflection, happy to absorb the limelight to spare the failings of his players being examined in a public forum.

A dressing room wouldn’t suddenly decide they had tired of his village idiot act. It took something that made them question his integrity as a person. It wasn’t even the dropping of John Terry, like some have suggested, that will have turned friends into enemies. Terry clearly holds Mourinho in high regard, even accidently referring to him as ‘the manager’ in a recent interview.

The point of no return for Jose was when they saw his competiveness reveal a darker side. His treatment of physio Eva Carneiro can’t be defended. No decent person feels comfortable watching a man bully a woman in such a way. Especially in a professional environment when she was correctly performing her duty.

The issue of gender should be approached head-on. Many have suggested if Eva had been a less than attractive man called Geoff, nobody would have been bothered. It would have certainly gained less media coverage but the principles would have been the same: the physio has a duty of care and can’t ignore the referee’s instruction to tend to an injured player.

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But the human element has to be taken into consideration. The Chelsea squad have bonded with Eva Carneiro and it’s natural for a group of men to be protective about a female they care for. To suggest it’s only because she’s an attractive woman is misogynistic.

They defended her because it was the right thing to do.

Jose could have been forgiven had he acknowledged it was a heat-of-the-moment reaction which he deeply regretted. But his arrogance found new boundaries and he attempted further spin. Players can buy a certain sort brand of cockiness if it centres around competition, not when it’s about the treatment of an innocent medical professional.

During Chelsea’s continuing decline you could see the confidence drain from Mourinho. He’d always had the support of his team in the past, without it there was no one to save him. The writing was on the wall when he accused the players of betraying him.

The real betrayal was when the manager they followed without question, turned on one of their own. Player power has shown Jose that no man is beyond reproach.

 


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