Mr. Mourinho. Mr. Mind-Games. Mr. Loves-To-Tap-A-Player-Up.
Jose Mourinho has come back in as Chelsea manager and immediately set his sights on signing Wayne Rooney from Manchester United. Their bid was officially rejected and United’s stance hasn’t changed that Rooney is not for sale at any price.
But it hasn’t stopped Mourinho publicly talking about Rooney more so it seems than his own players.
Jose Mourinho #1: “It’s a tricky question because I cannot speak about it. But you know me and it’s not my kind of character to speak with a bit of hypocrisy and I always say what I think.
“He is a player I like very much but I can say no more than that. Being fast and direct, I like that, but he’s a Manchester United player.”
Jose Mourinho #2: “For a player to be selected for his country, normally he must be first choice at his club. Any player that wants to go to the World Cup, if they are a second choice in their club they are in trouble. They are in trouble.”
Jose Mourinho #3: “”The one [club] who sells has to go and buy, then they have to buy to replace, so no club is safe. Until the last minute, a club can go there and ‘steal’ a player. I don’t mean steal a player, but steal the balance that a manager has when he’s working with a team.
“In that aspect, we are OK because we don’t have players to sell, so none of my players is leaving under any circumstances. Many teams will be under pressure until the last moment without knowing how the squad is going to be.”
Whether directly talking about Rooney or in a round about way, Mourinho isn’t holding back on publicly trying to talk to Rooney through the media.
Here is the Premier League’s defined rule on ‘tapping up’:
“Any club which by itself, by any of its Officials, by any of its Players, by its Agent, by any other Person on its behalf or by any other means whatsoever makes an approach directly or indirectly to a Contract Player except as permitted by Rule K1.1.2 or Rule K2 shall be in breach of these Rules and may be dealt with under the provisions of Section R’.
“Rule R1 gives the Premier League the authority to inquire into any suspected or alleged breach as it sees fit: ‘The board shall have power to inquire into any suspected or alleged breach of these Rules and for that purpose may require any Manager, Match Official, official or Player to appear before it and to produce documents’.”
Some players in teams talk about their team-mate in a scenario where the player may depart. Take Barcelona right now for example. Puyol, Pique, Xavi and Iniesta have all come out and said that there is no way that Cesc Fabregas would leave the club. That’s fine, they are talking about a player at their own club and putting pressure on him to stay.
But it seems like the whole Chelsea squad is trying to give their own stance on Rooney whenever they get the chance to. And those that argue ‘all they are doing is answering questions they are asked’ – bollocks. A simple ‘no comment’ would cover that.
Ashley Cole: ‘For me, if there’s a player he [Mourinho] wants to come to Chelsea, it would be one thought in my mind: to come here and to be under a great manager. It’s a pleasure to play under him. I jumped at the chance.
“He’s a great manager. He’s proved how good he is with the number of trophies he’s won with different teams. He’s great at motivating players and keeping you on your toes, keeping you doing what you should be doing.”
Mark Schwarzer: “He is definitely one of the best strikers in the world without a doubt and he would be an asset to any side. That is not my choice [if Chelsea sign him], but he is a phenomenal player and an asset to any side.”
David Luiz: “Everyone knows about his quality, so if he wants to come to Chelsea why not? I’d be happy with it,”
Eden Hazard: “He’s a great player who has the experience and he’s still only young, at 27. He’s got a few years left to play. But it’s not up to me. It’s not my decision.”
Romelu Lukaku: “You know when you are playing for a team like Chelsea, there is going to be competition. It is the manager’s choice. You have to accept that you have to work hard to make it a successful squad. If he is part of our team I will welcome him [Rooney] with open arms.”
Chelsea are not holding back in their efforts to sign Rooney but their blatant tapping up of a player under contract, indirectly and directly, can’t just carry on unnoticed.