Champions League: Stay cool, Mourinho

Chelsea's Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho gestures during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 football match between Galatasaray and Chelsea on Feb 26

ROUND OF 16, SECOND LEG

CHELSEA v GALATASARAY

(Wednesday, 3.40am, SingTel mio TV Ch 111)

Both teams tied at 1-1 from first leg

After a bad-tempered defeat by Aston Villa last Saturday, Chelsea will hope for better luck at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League on Wednesday morning (Singapore time).

With Manchester City and Arsenal already out and a demoralised Manchester United two goals down to Olympiakos, the Blues could be England's last team standing by the end of the week.

For that to happen, however, they'll have to avoid another day like last Saturday.

Two red cards and the dismissal of the manager will not impress the Football Association and there is a chance that the club will be punished further.

Chelsea, it must be said, suffered a little ill fortune, with Willian's second booking particularly harsh.

Mourinho certainly had no doubt as to where the blame lay.

"Maybe it is helpful that the committee does not send him to our matches," said Mourinho of last Saturday's referee, Chris Foy.

Foy has a long history with Chelsea, having sent off six of their players in the last eight games he has officiated and Mourinho claimed that his players were uncomfortable with his name on the team-sheet.

But it can't be said that Foy's decisions, either this weekend or before, were entirely without reason.

The majority were either sound or borderline calls.

NOT THE FIRST TIME

This, of course, is not the first time that Chelsea have objected to a particular referee.

Last season, they went public with unfounded allegations that Mark Clattenburg had racially abused Jon Obi Mikel.

The claim was later dropped and the club admitted that they should have "given more consideration" to their actions.

Mourinho had a point when he made the perfectly valid argument that he was not the only intruder on the pitch.

Villa manager Paul Lambert crossed the line too and yet he escaped punishment.

Yet this doesn't excuse Mourinho's own incursion.

He shouldn't have been anywhere near the playing area, whether he was applying pressure to the referee or merely passing advice to his nine remaining players.

Given all that Mourinho said in the summer about returning to the Premier League calmer and wiser, it's fair to conclude that he was telling fibs.

But if his attitude hasn't changed, then what about his success rate?

That remains to be seen. Chelsea remain in the hunt for the title, albeit with three other clubs, and they have an excellent chance of progressing to the last eight in Europe.

If Chelsea can win on either of those fronts, Mourinho's antics will be long forgotten.

This was not a good weekend for the Blues, with every other title challenger winning, but then it hasn't been that good for Galatasaray either.

NO LOVE LOST

Roberto Mancini's side lost further ground on leaders Fenerbahce at the weekend when they were held away at Karabukspor.

If Fenerbahce win their game in hand, they will enjoy an eight-point lead over Galatasaray with only nine games left to play.

There is no love lost between these two managers.

The first leg was preceded by a very public war of words regarding Mancini's contribution to Mourinho's treble-winning Inter Milan side.

Mancini suggested that his work at the club in the three seasons before Mourinho's arrival created a foundation for the Portuguese boss to build on.

Unsurprisingly, Mourinho did not take kindly to this.

"I said some perfectly normal things," Mancini told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

"Someone stirred it up into controversy and he really did get offended. In Istanbul, we saw each other and said only 'hello'. We certainly aren't friends. I don't think Mourinho wants to have friends."

If that's Mourinho's strategy, then it's certainly working.

But who needs friends when you can have trophies instead?

For all the furore over his conduct, Chelsea are still in contention for two of the most prestigious competitions in Europe


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