Obsessed with Wenger

The Special One continues to take a swipe at Wenger (right) at every opportunity.
AFP

Jose Mourinho just can't help himself.

Even as Chelsea begin to show gradual signs of recovery, both in the Champions League and on the home front, the Portuguese's personal crusade continues to steal centrestage.

His fixation with the one-upmanship of Arsene Wenger seems to dominate every aspect of his ire.

The latest, an indirect swipe at the Arsenal manager, overshadowed what was a credible goalless draw for his side against Dynamo Kiev yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Mimicking a man sitting 2,405km away from Kiev's Olympic Stadium, extolling the virtue of his own team's endeavours in putting Bayern Munich to the sword, showed why it is Mourinho - rather than Wenger - who now is the English Premier League's specialist in failure.

Where he once got the better of his adversary, the Chelsea boss has become bitter and obsessed with his contemporary at the Emirates Stadium.

Mourinho's charisma, much like his managerial style, has lost its sheen.

Few would have believed this was the same man whose side romped to the EPL title a mere five months ago.

Nuances Uefa's disciplinary committee will doubtless ignore the nuances behind referee Damir Skomina being brandished by Mourinho as "weak and naive", the term used by Wenger to describe Mike Dean's performance in his side's defeat by Chelsea last month.

Speaking of a perceived fear by English referees in awarding his side penalties has cost Mourinho £50,000 ($107,000).

Although not without its salient points, his latest outburst illustrated why his reputation continues to precede the current crop at Stamford Bridge.

That Cesc Fabregas was the only opposing player appealing for a warranted first-half penalty, after being sent tumbling by Serhiy Rybalka, told its own story.

Chelsea possess as much faith in fair judgment from the authorities as they do in bouts of fortune.

After the Spaniard was denied a spot-kick, Eden Hazard hit the base of the post and Willian rattled the underside of the crossbar, Mourinho must have wondered if anyone connected to Stamford Bridge had run over a black cat in recent weeks.

But, in Nemanja Matic's performance, his tough-love tactic finally found vindication.

Condemned by his manager for being bereft of confidence, the Serb appeared reinvigorated with a freedom and adventure that should have yielded victory, not least after he had parted the Dynamo defence like the Red Sea with a slaloming run.

They were traits sorely lacking from Hazard, still devoid of creativity and self-belief.

Mourinho will likely retain the faith with last season's Player of the Year but the exploits of his opposite number will not have gone unnoticed by the self-styled Special One.

In Andriy Yarmolenko, he may have found Hazard's successor as their potential new No. 10.

His tormenting of an accomplished Cesar Azpilicueta was a perfect audition.

Not since April 2014 had Chelsea failed to score in a Champions League game.

Not since April this year had they failed to record consecutive clean sheets.

With the latter finally negotiated, there are signs the current darkness enveloping Stamford Bridge is beginning to pass.

With a punishing schedule of five games in 11 days, its timing cannot be understated.


This article was first published on Oct 22, 2015.
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