Cooney and Black

Drogba in, Lampard out. Mourinho has made two costly errors with the season only a few weeks into its stride. Is he really as special as he thinks he is?

Jose Mourinho

bynigelclarke

PERHAPS Jose Mourinho isn’t so special as he thinks he is. Perhaps, after all, there is someone in higher authority at Chelsea who makes the big decisions.

Because, right now, it appears that Mourinho has made two costly errors with the season only a few weeks into its stride.

Mourinho is a self-confessed admirer of Frank Lampard. But, if that is so, why did he allow him to leave Stamford Bridge? Who went above his head?

And while we are on the subject of player recruitment, the priority is another central defender. So, why ever did the Portuguese bring Didier Drogba back to the club?

Both decisions could cost Chelsea dear. Perhaps even be the difference between a brilliant season, or missing out again, like last year.

It broke Lampard’s heart to discover that Chelsea no longer wanted him. He didn’t want to leave in the first place.

But somebody at the club then decided that the club’s record goal scorer and all-time ultimate professional had lost his importance.

At 34, Lampard was fully aware that he no longer had the legs for a full-scale campaign, but he would have been invaluable in pulling on the blue shirt for selective matches and leading from the front. Just like he has done for Manchester City.

And that’s because Lampard has long-term plans to go into management, and at the back of his mind was …Chelsea.

He would have been happy to have been on the bench, happy to play the occasional game, and come on as a substitute just as he did for City last week against his beloved Blues.

Lampard would have led by example and learned much at the feet of Mourinho. He never was given the chance. Chelsea shipped him out to America and the New York franchise, where he won’t be in action until February.

If they had hung onto him and then renegotiated at the turn of the year, Lampard would have accepted that and, because he is independently wealthy, would have taken a reduction in salary to stay on.

Of course, City stepped in and now will have Lampard to fall back on in an emergency for the next four important months.

Chelsea are not yet good enough to think they can live without Lampard. If a club are to be successful, then they need to be able to run two teams, one for the Barclays Premier League and European football, another for the domestic cups.

It doesn’t do to make sweeping changes. Ask Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, his side having taken a step forward by winning the FA Cup and qualifying for Europe, then travelling two back by losing in the Capital Cup and so missing the opportunity to bring through young talent.

But somebody at Chelsea knew better. If it wasn’t Mourinho, then why didn’t he put up a bigger fight to keep Lampard on the books?

Now City will be able to tap into all that makes Lampard the man he is. His love of the game, his commitment to giving 100 per cent, his loyalty to those who support him and his driving ambition to be the best. These are powerful attributes that can rub off on a club.

Mourinho is first up front with his clever comments. For instance, he rarely calls Manuel Pellegrini by his correct name. He always says ‘Pellegrino’ after the Italian mineral drink. This time, Manuel has had the last laugh, for Lampard’s goal last Sunday could prove to be so important to both clubs.

Two more in the League Cup gave him the man of the match award. It also gave City some self belief back.

Chelsea’s League showing was a body blow that cost them two points and a 100 per cent record. Lampard was still upset 48 hours after the game, upset that he had hurt the one he loved so much, but too much of a proper professional to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Chelsea are now stating that their young players should follow the example of Lampard with a view to their preparation for a game, and attitude on the pitch.

But his dressing room peg belongs to somebody else now, because Mourinho – or one of his betters – made the wrong decision.

It was the another wrong decision: Drogba, I’m afraid, was brought back on a wave of sentimentality. He is now 36 – he was at his best two years ago and cannot be expected to play every match. So, why didn’t they show the same consideration to Lampard?

Football moves on quickly, especially in the Premier League. Lampard has shown he can still cope in certain situations, can Drogba? The answer to that will be revealed this season.

Meanwhile, Blues still struggle at the back when centre backs John Terry and Gary Cahill get separated, or when they are forced to defend crosses into the box facing their own goal.

For the Special One, this will be a special season. It might just prove that he is not as good as he thinks he is.

 
 

PICTURE COURTESY OF: The Sport Review

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