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Bridge Banter: What happened to the charming Jose Mourinho at Chelsea?
Things aren’t going quite as smoothly this time around for Chelsea’s charismatic manager.
Jose Mourinho is affected by life’s ups and downs like anybody else, and sometimes the relaxed and calm exterior can crack.
It happened when he took exception to the persistent line of questioning ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League game.
Mind you, an emphatic 4-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest in Romania has helped steady a ship that was starting to list under the weight of expectation, and gives the Blues heart ahead of a tricky trip to Norwich at the weekend.
Mourinho was already irritated about running late when he faced the media before the Steaua match, so he wasn’t in the right frame of mind.
But he gets increasingly tetchy and exasperated these days about having to justify who he leaves out of every team he selects.
He has a point. He can only pick 11 in a team, and when games come thick and fast, he has to rotate his squad.
Some will be chosen, some left out, but from the way he is interrogated about choices you’d think he was allowed to select 20 players in a starting line-up – and is somehow letting everyone down by not doing that.
The worry is that Jose might not be loving life as much as he did in his first stretch at the Bridge. He seems to internalise and smother his feelings, greeting goals with a shrug and a notepad tick rather than a joyous whoop. He is wary where once he was open and charming.
Yet the net result has been to sharpen the quality of his team’s performance, as if the players realise they have to do better to take the heat off the gaffer.
If it all turns out to be another clever Mourinho mind game to get the best out of his squad, he’ll still have the last laugh.
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