Posts Tagged ‘Mourinho’

Jose Mourinho Glory Years Wouldn’t Have Happened Without John Neal

by David Chidgey.

Whilst pondering what to write about Chelsea’s dismissive 2-0 win against West Brom at the weekend, extending their unbeaten run to a club-record 12 games in the process, I heard some very sad news which took me back to a very different time in the club’s topsy-turvy history.

The news that John Neal, Chelsea Manager from 1981-1985, had died put a dampener on an otherwise fun-packed and celebratory weekend. The subsequent outpouring of grief on social media from Chelsea supporters of a certain age appropriately summed up the feelings we had for a Chelsea of our youth, and it can be argued that without John Neal as manager at that time we simply would not have the Chelsea (or the support) that we have today.

John Neal, a warm-hearted but tough character from the North East, arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 1981. Chelsea were in meltdown both on and off the pitch thanks to a period of laughable financial mismanagement following their early ’70’s glory years, and the even more comical management on the pitch by Danny Blanchflower and Geoff Hurst. Neal took over a side with little appetite for the fight, one which had finished 12th in Division Two and had failed to find the net in 19 of its last 22 league games.

Things would get far far worse before they got better. Neal’s first year in charge saw some of the most infamous defeats in Chelsea’s history – the 6-0 league defeat at Rotherham; the 4-2 defeat to Wigan in the League cup and the 3-0 defeat to Burnley which put Chelsea in the relegation zone of Division 2 for the first (and only) time in their history.

New signings for Chelsea in the summer of 1983: Rear: Eddie Niedzwiecki, Joe McLaughlin, Nigel Spackman, Kerry Dixon. Front:: Pat Nevin, John Hollins.  (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

New signings for Chelsea in the summer of 1983: Rear: Eddie Niedzwiecki, Joe McLaughlin, Nigel Spackman, Kerry Dixon. Front: Pat Nevin, John Hollins. (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

But John Neal was a fighter and he slowly began to instil these qualities in the Chelsea side he was shaping. The turning point came on 7th May 1983. Winless in nine matches, Chelsea were plummeting towards relegation to the Third Division and with it probable extinction. They faced fellow strugglers Bolton needing a win to stay up.

The game was petering out to a 0-0 draw, and relegation for Chelsea, when Clive Walker received the ball just outside the penalty area and lashed a shot into the top corner to secure what was arguably the most important win in Chelsea’s history.

Having avoided relegation to Division 3, Neal got rid of the deadwood at the club and, with the help of new chairman Ken Bates, built a team that could take Chelsea back to where they belonged – or as the terrace chant at the time aptly put: “Come along, come along, come along and sing this song, we’re the boys in blue in Division 2 but we won’t be here for long!”

And this is really where the respect and love that Chelsea supporters of my vintage have for John Neal and his mid-’80’s team began. His shrewd dealings in the transfer market brought players such as Joey Jones, Mickey Thomas, Eddie Niedzwiecki, Nigel Spackman, David Speedie, Pat Nevin and Kerry Dixon to the club, players who are still loved and revered to this day.

The team had a great balance of hunger, desire, aggression and a fierce will to win. Added to this was the flair of Nevin and the devastating strike partnership of Dixon and Speedie. They played some great football but most of all they played like a team that gave everything on the pitch, and as supporters that’s all you really want – 100% commitment.

Neal’s Chelsea romped to the Division 2 title in 1984, with Dixon scoring 34 goals, and were followed by a huge travelling Chelsea support – packing out most of opposition grounds in their desire to catch a glimpse of their new heroes.

Arguably the most memorable match in the Neal era was the first match in Chelsea’s return to the top flight after an absence of five years. The match took place on 25 August 25 1984, against Arsenal at Highbury. Twenty thousands Chelsea supporters were in the ground that day, and Kerry Dixon scored what he claims was his favourite Chelsea goal in a creditable 1-1 draw.

Chelsea were back, and that really was John Neal’s great legacy. He rescued us from the depths of possible extinction; put us back together and put us in a position to challenge with the elite once again. Anyone who supported the club before Neal’s arrival and during that time had their passion for Chelsea signed, sealed and delivered.

Neal achieved 6th place in Chelsea’s first two seasons back in Division One, and Chelsea would have been competing in Europe had it not been for the ban on English clubs at that time.

The bedrock of Chelsea’s hard-core support still come from that era – just look at how many season ticket holders at Stamford Bridge are in their late 40’s and early 50’s – and there is no doubt that an unbreakable bond was forged at that time between the team and the supporters. But the gratitude we have for John Neal should not be underestimated.

In fact, you could argue that without John Neal we would not have had the Hoddle, Gullit and Vialli years; and without them there would be no Abramovich or Mourinho.

Those of us who enjoyed the sumptuous football on offer, particularly during the first half at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, would do well to remember that. They would also do well to remember that Chelsea playing attractive, winning football was not invented this season. There have been other seasons where we have had a wizard of a winger and a monster of a striker banging the goals in for fun, long before the Abramovich era – and for a lot less money.

Good times: Neal with John Hollins and Chairman Ken Bates.

Good times: Neal with John Hollins and Chairman Ken Bates.

John Neal’s legacy at Chelsea was undoubtedly helping to forge the strong bond between the supporters and the Club – one that exists to this day – but, more importantly, he made us believe again. He made us believe that we belonged with the elite and could challenge at the top once again. He also serves as a great reminder that beating all and sundry with alacrity is not a given. You have to work hard, give 100% commitment and treat all opposition and competitions with respect.

I think Jose Mourinho would have liked John Neal. Although their backgrounds are very different, there is a strange similarity in their approach – mixing flair with aggression and an uncompromising will to win. On Saturday, Jose made two statements of great import. He pointed out that for all of the beautiful football and domination Chelsea have had so far this season, they have won nothing yet, and that it will count for nothing until they have the trophies to vindicate it. He also apologised to the supporters for criticising their lack of effort recently.

John Neal, a real gentleman and manager who never once criticised the Chelsea supporters (even though they called for his head early in his tenure), would no doubt have approved of that.

At the end of the season, if we win the Premier League, I hope John Neal looks down on us with a smile – after all he played a significant part in our history, and perhaps, just perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are now without what he did 30 years ago.

David ‘Stamford Chidge’ Chidgey presents the award winning Chelsea FanCast TV show and podcast which can be seen every Monday at 19.00 on or You Tube or heard at or downloaded from ITunes. Follow on twitter @StamfordChidge and @ChelseaFanCast

( This piece originally appeared on the International Business Times website – )


Shotgun! You Wouldn’t Catch Them Driving to Training in That Thing Nowadays…


by Roy Dalley.

Jose Mourinho would probably walk out on Chelsea for a second time if ever Roman Abramovich had the temerity to present a Ford Transit as the new team bus.

Fabregas, Hazard and Oscar would no doubt get their agents to check the smallprint on their contracts, while Drogba would theatrically fall in a heap… anything to get out of travelling in something other than first class.

However, as our picture shows, it wasn’t always thus.

Once upon a time you could win the FA Cup, then the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and still have to get to work in the back of a Transit, as the Chelsea squad of the early 1970s will testify. Here they are pictured at Stamford Bridge in the shadows of the old East Stand (soon to be demolished after a third cup final in three seasons, a 1-2 defeat by Stoke in the League Cup, in 1972).

You might think it’s some kind of ruse; Osgood’s idea of a Chelsea Charabanc for a jolly boys drive dahn to Margit. Or even the prequel to that television commercial featuring England legends now reduced to playing for the local Dog and Duck XI? But no.

The Transit would in fact ferry the first-team squad to the club’s training ground in Mitcham, some five miles across the Thames in south London, a facility which was later sold to Crystal Palace when the club’s finances became perilous (not least because of the cost of replacing that old wooden stand) and a far cry from Chelsea’s new state of the art complex in the Surrey stockbroker belt.

Sadly the photograph was supplied without a caption, so it is not known when exactly it was taken and indeed who is pictured. But Hudson’s absence could provide a clue; Hudson was forced to miss the club’s first FA Cup triumph, in 1970 against Leeds, because of a broken leg. Or maybe he was still in bed with a hangover? Dunno…

Club captain Chopper Harris is also absent, perhaps making a hospital visit to one of his recent opponents..?

There’s no Dempsey either, though his habit of wearing rugby style ankle boots on matchdays meant he was possibly more likely to be found on a nearby physio table.

Anyway this ol’ Blues man thinks he can name all but one of those reporting for training that day. How about you..?

(Leaning inside driver’s door); Bonetti
(Standing l-to-r); Birchenall, Baldwin, McCreadie, Hutchinson, Webb, Cooke, Houseman.
(Crouching l-to-r); Osgood, Hinton, *?!?, Hollins.

*?!? It’s not Kember. Is it Boyle..?

Feel free to Tweet me any guesses you may have.



“Modern football fans are less likely to sing than the ones they squeezed out.”

by David Chidgey.

‘Atmosphere’ was a great track by Joy Division – gloomy and downbeat with references to “walking in silence”. It seems that Jose Mourinho has taken his cue from Ian Curtis in openly criticising Chelsea Supporters for their lack of ‘atmosphere’.

Jose Mourinho Chelsea vs Liverpool 20132014

Jose’s criticisms are merely a symptom of a bigger problem with modern football

Mourinho has been criticsed for breaking an unwritten rule by criticising supporters who pay their hard earned money week in week out to back him and the team. I was there on Saturday, and in truth, the atmosphere was all right in the first half, albeit fairly quiet in the second (no doubt as a result of nerves and frustration after QPR had equalised). It seems odd therefore that Mourinho has chosen this particular match to come out with this veiled attack on his own supporters.

And therein lies the truth perhaps, in that the master deflector was taking attention away from what he considered to be a poor performance by the team. It certainly worked as the press and social media have been talking about nothing else since! As it happens, I don’t think Chelsea played as badly as Mourinho clearly thought they did, which makes this attack even stranger.

The reaction amongst Chelsea supporters has been equally critical. In fact I have seldom heard Mourinho so heavily criticised by his own supporters – the very same supporters who clamoured for his return having had to endure a manager (Rafa Benitez) for whom they had nothing but hatred.

They have a point. It seems that Mourinho (unusually for him) is showing little empathy for the long-suffering supporter and even less understanding.

The reality is that atmosphere at Chelsea and most big Premier League clubs is a patch on what it used to be – look at Old Trafford when Manchester United played Chelsea. Even the fabled Anfield was like a morgue on one of their ‘famous European nights’ against Real Madrid the other week. The bottom line is that poor atmospheres are endemic at big clubs in modern football.

Chelsea have a particularly aggressive stewarding policy where ‘persistent standing’ is met with letters threatening to remove your season ticket and a hot-line to ‘grass up’ anyone deemed to be behaving unacceptably. 99.9% of football supporters will tell you that it is much easier to sing, chant and generally make a noise when you have supporters collectively standing.

When faced with stewarding of this type (backed up and reinforced, it must be said, by local council regulations, police influence and threats of reduced capacity) is it surprising that it kills the atmosphere? It is no surprise that away supporters, and Chelsea’s in particular, are far more vocal as they literally stand and sing as one.

Ironically Mourinho has contributed to the dearth of atmosphere at Stamford Bridge in his first stint as manager, by moving the often vociferous away support (of course no sanctions for standing are applied to them!) away from his dug out in the East Stand and into the sacred Shed End – cutting one of our most vocal areas in half as a result. He would do well to remember that.

But there are many, many more reasons why atmosphere is getting worse at Stamford Bridge and elsewhere, some of which I discussed in an interview with Danny Kelly’s ‘Season Ticket’ show on talkSPORT on Saturday night. The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, of which I am a Board member, conducts an annual survey of its members, and the issue of ‘Atmosphere’ is consistently mentioned as an area for concern and indeed for improvement.

In reality the atmosphere will not improve unless substantial change is made and the club’s strategies in how it deals with supporters is fundamentally re-thought. Many of us believe that the key to improving match day atmosphere is to introduce ‘Safe Standing’ areas as championed by the excellent Jon Darch of the Football Supporters Federation. This is the model that German football has adopted and is exemplified by the ‘yellow wall’ at Borussia Dortmund with thousands of vocal supporters standing in one impressive stand.

Fans of Dortmund are renowned for their atmosphere

Fans of Dortmund are renowned for their atmosphere

Another measure we must adopt from German football is the recognition that ticket prices are just too expensive. In Germany, legislation ensures that a proportion of tickets are sold at a price affordable to the ‘working man’. In my view the systematic increase in ticket prices in the Premier League is the root cause of the problems we now have with lack of atmosphere.

The ‘working man’ and the teenage supporter (16-25 year olds in particular) have historically been the bedrock of vocal support at football grounds. However, it is no longer their game. Over the last 20 years they have been systematically priced out. Football has become gentrified or some might say ‘civilised’ as a result – certainly at Stamford Bridge.

The newer football fans who have replaced them are less likely to sing (or know the songs) and those who can afford to pay £50 and upwards for a ticket are perhaps more likely to feel some sort of entitlement to be entertained, rather than see it as their responsibility to support. An ageing football demographic (largely as a result of the expense) does not help, as even those who screamed and shouted as teenage supporters may feel they no longer need to do so – believing that they have done their bit.

Ultimately the blame lies with the Premier League and the clubs themselves for disregarding their most loyal supporters in order to ‘market’ to a ‘customer’ base prepared to pay ever higher prices for tickets, merchandise and consumables. The amount of ‘tourists’ that turn up to Premier League games simply cannot help with the atmosphere.

Tourists (those who come to a game but with little or no knowledge of the game or the club, and are merely there to tick off another attraction on the list) are by definition neutral. If you want a decent atmosphere, there is no place for neutrals at a football match.

Instead of berating the very supporters who have had to put up with all of these issues over the last 20 years, and witness the game they know and love disappearing, Jose would be better advised to actually work with the supporters and take these issues to the people who are really to blame, and in doing so effect some real change.

Whilst I disagree with how Mourinho has handled this, it is true that there is a real, football-wide problem regarding atmosphere and the points he makes are valid. It may be that with Mourinho putting it foursquare on the agenda, supporters can pressurise the clubs and the Premier League to change things.

It would be a great help if Mourinho were to join us in doing so rather than criticising from the side-lines. The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has a board meeting in a couple of weeks’ time, and Jose is cordially invited to join us. We can perhaps educate him on the finer points on the issues around the lack of atmosphere and hopefully garner his support in challenging the club and Premier League to help us do something about it. And we’ll be happy to provide him with a nice bottle of red wine.

David ‘Stamford Chidge’ Chidgey presents the award winning Chelsea FanCast TV show and podcast which can be seen every Monday at 19.00 on or You Tube or heard at or downloaded from ITunes. Follow them on twitter @StamfordChidge and @ChelseaFanCast


The Master Plan!
How Chelsea’s Transfer Policy Has Moved From Rude to Shrewd

by Dave Chidgey.

Now the Sky Sports hyped Transfer Window has firmly shut, Chelsea supporters can rest easy and light up the proverbial cigar safe in the knowledge that this summer the club has played a blinder!

Torres (1)

Torres has finally been moved on

In the last few seasons, probably going back to signing Torres for £50m and Luiz for £20m, Chelsea’s dealings in the transfer market had seemed somewhat surreal at best, flawed at worst, buying flashy players with no clear strategy or plan beyond a desire to play a cavalier version of tika-taka.

Those days appear to have been consigned firmly to the dustbin of history. Last year Jose Mourinho stated clearly that Chelsea were not in a position to win the title. We were a few players short, not least up front, and we had a few problem players in problem areas. On the one hand he called Chelsea a little horse, on the other we were a club in transition.

The summer of 2014 may well prove to be as big a landmark in terms of Chelsea’s future success, as the summer of 2003. Jose, together with Michael Emenalo one presumes, has implemented a master plan for the next ten years of football domination.

The obvious hole up front has been plugged with the signing of Diego Costa, but do not underestimate how important the re-signing of Didier Drogba on a free will be in the dressing room. The long term problem of Fernando Torres has also been solved with his loan to AC Milan, getting a very high earner off the books in the process. Hopefully the move will be of huge benefit to both Chelsea and the player. It was also impressive how quickly Chelsea got the talented Loic Remy in to complete the striking triumvirate, for a mere £10.5m it must be said.


Remy: Smart business, quickly done.

In fact the departures from Chelsea are possibly more intriguing than the arrivals. Club legends Lampard and Cole have left, but any potential gaps left in the squad have been filled with the likes of Fabregas (who could prove to be the signing of the season) and Felipe Luis. Demba Ba, David Luiz, and Lukaku (for a staggering combined £82.7m) have been moved on, deemed not good enough for Mourinho’s Chelsea MkII. As a result of the ins and outs, Mourinho will be happy that he now has two high quality players for every position in that squad, a tried and tested strategy for the ‘shrewd one’.

Many commentators criticise Chelsea for the amount of players they have out on loan – 26 at the last count. However, I think in the light of this year’s transfer business, it can be seen as a very smart recruitment strategy and one that fits in well with the new reality of Financial Fair Play. Chelsea has worked hard to identify young talent, buying them relatively cheaply (Pasalic for £3m being a case in point). They are then loaned out so that Chelsea can monitor their development. If they prove good enough they get a chance to make the grade at Chelsea. If not, they are sold on, usually for a substantial profit. This profit is then re-invested in world class players when needed. Whilst some may see this as a sinister ‘hedge fund’ for youth development, the dividends for Chelsea are there for all to see.

The most intriguing aspect of Chelsea’s transfer window is the speed and efficiency with which they have concluded business, and to those who say our spending is the ruination of football, we have one of the lowest net spends in the Premier League this summer. That is positively Arsenal like!

Clearly Chelsea are adapting to the world of Financial Fair Play better than most.

David ‘Stamford Chidge’ Chidgey presents the award winning Chelsea FanCast TV show and podcast which can be seen every Monday at 19.00 on Chelsea FanCast TV or You Tube or heard at or downloaded from ITunes. Follow him on twitter @StamfordChidge and @ChelseaFanCast


They Say Never Go Back!
Will Drogba buck the trend or follow in Osgood’s footsteps..?


Return of the King (II)

by Roy Dalley.

History was the buzzword that accompanied Didier Drogba on his return to Chelsea, and it had little to do with the distressed denims and flatcap he wore while putting pen to paper on a new one-year contract with the club.

Certainly the Ivorian centre-forward has become a dab hand at signing his name into football’s history books. No less than 10 major titles during his first eight year spell at Chelsea is ample proof of that.

Manager Jose Mourinho dropped the H word a couple of times when welcoming Drogba back to the club, stressing: “He’s not protected by history or what he’s done for the club previously. He is coming with the mentality to make more history.”

Yet in another sense Chelsea fans of a certain vintage will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.


Osgood returned to The Bridge in ’79 but couldn’t save the Blues from relegation

It is said one should never go back in love and in football; think Thierry Henry and Arsenal. Or Paul Scholes and Manchester United. Their returns only served to wipe away more than a little sheen from their glittering reputations.

Step back a few years and Chelsea fans will recall another comeback that hardly lived up to their hopes or expectations…

Peter Osgood was the original King of Stamford Bridge; quite an accolade when your rivals for the crown included Alan Hudson, Charlie Cooke, Bobby Tambling and Peter Bonetti.

And with good reason. During his first spell at the club Osgood scored 148 goals in 370 appearances, including strikes against (the then mighty) Leeds to help win the FA Cup and (the perennially mighty) Real Madrid to land the European Cup Winners Cup.

He also scored in the League Cup Final, though it wasn’t enough to prevent Stoke from winning what remains their only piece of silverware.

But goalscoring was only a part of what made Osgood great. Tall, lithe, two-footed and graceful in the era of muddy pitches and ruddy centre-halves, he played the game with a smile and even a wink for the ladies. Indeed his magnetism prompted Hollywood film star Raquel Welch to wear a T-shirt bearing his name after they were introduced on a matchday at Stamford Bridge.

Welch: without question the finest legs ever seen in Chelsea shorts

Welch: without question the finest legs ever seen in Chelsea shorts

The slogan said, rather succinctly: I scored with Osgood.

It was probably inevitable he would go west to America in the autumn of his career following spells at Southampton and Norwich after a highly publicised fall-out with former Chelsea boss Dave Sexton.

But the swagger had been reduced to a stagger when Osgood returned to Stamford Bridge from Philadelphia Fury in 1979. He was 32, four years younger than Drogba is now, and plainly unable to conjour any more magic, scoring just twice in 9 matches as Chelsea were relegated from the top flight.

Indeed just about the only significant aspect of Osgood’s return to Chelsea were the rather strange playing boots he brought back with him from the States. They didn’t have three stripes or a flash, rather a strange looking tick.

Yes, Osgood was the footballer who introduced Nike boots to the English game.

It remains to be seen which pair of Nikes Drogba will model when the new season kicks off, yet he will be hoping, and Mourinho will be demanding, he leaves rather more impressive footprints on his Second Coming.

Unlike Osgood, however, Drogba’s return has nothing to do with trying to reverse a sharp decline within the club. Indeed much of his most significant work will probably be conducted behind the scenes at the club’s Cobham training complex, where he be expected to fill the inspirational void vacated by Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.

He’s the player who has seen, done and won it all in a Chelsea shirt, and Mourinho will want his stardust to rub off onto his younger players. He’ll probably want a few goals too, though wisened Stamford Bridge supporters know it’ll never quite be the same.

The King is Dead (and, in Osgood’s case, his ashes are buried beneath the penalty spot at the Shed End), Long Live The King. Well, for one more season at least…


We Two Kings

Osgood   –  Chelsea games 380, Goals 150, Winners medals 2, Statues at Stamford Bridge 1

Drogba   –  Chelsea games 341*, Goals 157*, Winners medals 10*, Statues at Stamford Bridge 0*

*Subject to change



The Apprentice at Work
Mourinho Plys His Trade Under The Watchful Eye of van Gaal



Here’s a great shot of new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal from around 1998 whilst in charge of Barcelona, deep in conversation with his assistant at the time, a certain Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho arrived at the Nou Camp as Bobby Robson’s assistant in 1996. Robson guided Barca to a cup treble that season, winning the Copa del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the Supercopa de España. But Real Madrid pipped them to the title by 2 points, and that meant Robson, always viewed as a short-term appointment anyhow, could be moved on.

Robson quickly found work at PSV, but Barcelona insisted his young assistant stayed on to work with Robson’s successor; Louis van Gaal, the man the Catalans were waiting for all along.

Mourinho learnt much from the Dutchman’s diligent style. Both assistant and head coach combined well, their studious approach to the game saw Barcelona crowned La Liga champions twice in Van Gaal’s first two years as coach.

Van Gaal saw that his number two had a lot of promise. He let Mourinho develop his own style whilst coaching the Barcelona B side and also let him take charge of the first team for certain trophies, like the Copa Catalunya, which Mourinho won in 2000 with van Gaal supporting him in the role of assistant.

Soon after Benfica came calling for Jose, initially as assistant manager. Mourinho said “When I spoke with van Gaal about going back to Portugal to be an assistant at Benfica, he said: “No, don’t go. Tell Benfica if they want a first-team coach you will go; if they want an assistant you will stay.”

Mourinho did go to Benfica, and his opportunity to call the shots came quicker than anticipated after Jupp Heynckes was dismissed just four weeks into the season, and the man who would be later known as The Special One was promoted to his first managerial role. The rest, as they say, is history.

Next season he will go head to head with the man who – along with Sir Bobby Robson – helped shape him into the extraordinary success story of modern day football management. And while Mourinho will be looking to find the answers to his striking problems at Chelsea, van Gaal will be tasked with returning Manchester United to the force they were under Sir Alex Ferguson, which already seems a distant memory despite only being a year ago.

Roll on next season; their battles are set to be nothing short of fascinating…



The Technical Area: A Modern Day Theatre for Managers to Strut Their Stuff

by Rob Shepherd.

SOCCER Newcastle 135156 Football Newcastle United v Sunderland - Premier League.

Pardew has a history of touchline histrionics

Even if Alan Pardew’s face off with Hull’s David Meyler was a more head putt than a head butt, the FA appointed independent commission had no option to slap the Newcastle manager in the face with a record seven game ban.

Sensibly Pardew accepted his punishment of being barred from the stadium for three games and four from the touchline.

He has even suggested he may consider extending his exile from the dug out and the so-called technical area for much longer. Let’s hope Pardew sets a trend.

The sight of managers prancing around the technical area ranting and raving at referees or shouting instructions and gesticulating at players is becoming tiresome and often embarrassing.

It’s as if managers now feel they have to put on a sideshow to prove a point to the fans and their bosses up in the directors box of how clever or how good they are and how much they care. The technical area, which was brought in for sound reasons, has been turned into a stage where managers melodramatically strut their stuff.

TV plays its part, constantly zooming in and aware of this many managers play to the cameras as well as the crowd. Some even seem to be afflicted by a form of Tourette’s syndrome during the course of the game.

It gets ever more embarrassing.

Clough and Taylor work their magic calmly from their seats

Clough and Taylor work their magic calmly from their seats

After all, if a manager feels the need to bark constant instructions to his players from the off it raises the obvious question: What on earth has he been doing on the training ground all week and why didn’t he get his point across in the pre-match meeting and team talk?

The great managers like Sir Alf Ramsey, Bill Shankley, Don Revie and Brian Clough would sit still and silent for most of the game knowing that once the players had crossed the white line then there was little they could really do to change the course of things.

The preparation was done and dusted and any major changes to a game plan would have to wait until half-time.

Yes, they would stand up and shout something if they could effect a tactical tweak during play but in essence they knew that once the game had started most words shouted from the sidelines would fall on deaf ears.

Back then there was only one substitute so there was an obvious limit to how much a manager could change. But in that sense managers now have greater ability to alter the course of the game – but they can do that sitting down with a sense of calm and purpose, not like they are about to explode.

Jose is the master of touchline theatre

Jose is the master of touchline theatre

Besides, now as then, in the heat of battle it’s hard for players to take on too many new instructions; indeed information overload can have a negative impact on concentration and confidence.

The most telling time to change the course of a match tactically is still at half time. Deep down Jose Mourinho knows that, and he is a master at making decisive substitutions or tactical changes, especially at the interval.

But he can’t resist playing to the gallery either.

Recently he spoke of modern players looking in the mirror before they leave the dressing room… not for introspection but to check the hair do and so on. Yet many managers must do the same. A slick designer suit, the latest tie knot and cool overcoat, is de rigeour for more and more who sometimes give the technical area the look of a catwalk.

Some, like Roberto Mancini go the extra mile in search of cutting the right image for the cameras – and thus potential sponsors – by adorning a trendy retro scarf as fashion statement.

Looking back it was probably Kenny Dalglish who started it all, in the cross over period when still as player/manager of Liverpool he began to start more game games on the bench. But instead of sitting down like Shanks, Bob Paisley or Joe Fagan before him, Dalglish began the trend of the manager standing up to get a better view of the game.

Kenny Dalglish as then Liverpool manager in 1991-833869

Dalglish: Stood to get a better view of the game

More and more head coaches followed suit and now we have the era of the peacock managers who prance and prattle on the touchline.

But it was only a matter of time before one of them went beyond spitting feathers as did Pardew did.

As a consequence it is to be hoped other managers take note and take a step back from what has become an egotistic sideshow.

It would indeed be great if the technical area was scrapped.

I doubt that will happen, but you never know. Pardew might actually find that sitting up in the stands will give him a far better overview of the game and given how easy it is now to communicate with the coaches down on the bench enable him to make better judgements. And thus make him a better boss and maybe then starting a new trend of managers taking a back seat where they can use their heads, rather than lose their heads.


Gunners Get The Blues Wenger and Mourinho Look to Gain the Upper Hand


Steve Morrow scored Arsenal’s winner in 1993. In this pic Tony Adams is just moments away from breaking his arm…

by Rob Shepherd.

There was a time when Arsene Wenger used the League Cup sponsored by Capital One as a test lab for his young players.

But no longer.

Without any silverware since 2005 Wenger has increasingly taken the competition more seriously.

But The Gunners have lost the two finals they have reached since, in 2011 to Birmingham and 2007, yes to Chelsea.

That was the season when Mourinho left and Avram Grant ‘took over’ as manager – although most of the time it seemed the senior players ran the show, like Didier Drogba who terrorised the Gunners and scored the winner in that final.

This clash between Arsenal and Chelsea at The Emirates is the plum tie of the Capital One Cup Fourth Round.

One suspects the winners of this game can win the cup. Both are priced at 7-1 so now is the time to get on one or the other.

Wenger has indicated he will play a strong side. Chelsea may well rest John Terry and Frank Lampard. But with David Luiz and Juan Mata to come in it could be some game.


George Graham won the League Cup as a manager with Arsenal and as a player with Chelsea

And Chelsea have a stronger heritage in the League Cup than the Gunners. The Blues have won it four times, only Manchester United and Aston Villa have won it more.

Arsenal have only won it twice, in ’87 and ’93 back in the George Graham era.

Interestingly Graham played for the Chelsea side that won the trophy for the first time in 1965 when they beat Leicester over two legs.

Bobby Tabling and Terry Venables scored for the Blues at the Bridge. But both times the goals were equalised until Eddie McCreadie went on a late dribble and beat Leicester’s keeper….Gordon Banks.

The second leg was a goal-less draw. The Chelsea manager ? Tommy Docherty.

Below are the highlights of Gianluca Vialli’s first game in charge of Chelsea, which was against Arsenal in the semi-final of the League Cup in 1998 – Watch out for a thunderbolt from Robbie Di Matteo.


Paisley shocks Merseyside with retirement announcement

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

On the face of it Bob Paisley was not your stereotypical top-flight football manager. He wasn’t media friendly, wore a flat cap to work and bore none of the charisma exhibited by other managers of the time such as Brian Clough and Malcolm Allison.

He was also burdened with the scepticism many had about his ability to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Bill Shankly. Indeed Paisley himself was reluctant to step into Shankly’s shoes.

Fast-forward nine season to 26th August 1982 when he announced that the 82/83 season would be his last as manager of Liverpool FC and you could hear the tide turn in the Mersey such was the shock.

For Liverpool fans everywhere realised the truth of Kenny Dalglish’s words when the Liverpool star said: “There was only one Bob Paisley and he was the greatest of them all…There will never be another like him.”

His record over those nine seasons stands head and shoulders over most other managers not just in England but wherever the game is played.

European Cup winners: 1977, 1978, 1981

UEFA Cup winners: 1976

League championship winners: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983

League Cup winners: 1981, 1982, 1983

Charity Shield winners: 1974, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1982

Manager of the Year: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983


But when Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager of Manchester United in May 2013 started a debate as to who was the greatest British manager of all time, I wonder how many put ‘Uncle’ Bob Paisley at the top of their list?

Perhaps today we look too much at image rather than substance. For many Paisley was like your favourite uncle. He didn’t rant and rave, he didn’t class himself as the special one – long before Jose Mourinho claimed the title. He simply turned up for work and got down to the business of turning eleven fit, skilful young men into world beaters. And he did it again and again.

Even there he had his detractors. There were those who said his success came from inheriting Shankly’s team, forgetting that as Shankly’s assistant Paisley had a great say in how that team was constructed.

And Shankly wasn’t the only one in the Liverpool camp with witty one liners.

For instance, when one Saturday after Shankly had retired Paisley was asked by a reporter what the former Liverpool manager was doing that afternoon he replied: “He’s trying to get right away from football. I believe he went to Everton.”

What would he have made of the debate after Ferguson’s retirement earlier this year about who was the greatest England manager? Personally I don’t think he would’ve got involved. He didn’t need to. He’d simply opened his trophy cabinet and point. Enough said.

That was Bob Paisley; a book with success written on every page, if you bothered to look beneath the cover.

By Richard Bowdery

Lampard: Flavour Of The Old School

By Rob Shepherd.


Frank smashes in his freekick against Hull

A new season but Frank Lampard was straight back in the old routine scoring a goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 opening day win over Hull. And to think earlier this year Chelsea had been prepared to let him walk out the door and end his career in the USA.

Having surpassed Bobby Tamblings’s record of 202 goals for the Blues last season Lampard hit his 204th with a stunning Ronaldoesque 35 yard free kick and that just a few minutes after having a penalty saved.

It obviously enthused Jose Mourinho that Chelsea will get back into the old routine they established when he was manager last time around and win the title as they did in the first season of that previous reign.

Back to the future ?

That is the Chelsea’s plan and why one of the first things Mourinho did before agreeing to come back to the club was to persuade Lampard to stay on for another season.

It can be revealed by BOBBY that having not been offered a suitable deal by the club at the turn of the year Lampard was on the verge of an agreement to take him to the MSL, with LA Galaxy.

But in March, when the deal to bring Mourinho back to Chelsea from Real Madrid was in an advanced stage, Jose still wanted to iron out a few issues. One of which was to offer Lampard the sort of one year deal that would make him stay.

A source close to Lampard told me recently: “Frank was all set to go to the States with Galaxy but then he got a text message from Jose telling him he was on the way back and urging him to stay. Jose wanted his experience and his goals. He worked hard on him and Frank couldn’t resist.”

The traditional man management skills Mourinho learned from the late Bobby Robson are one of his greatest assets. It’s how he gets key players on side and straight away Chelsea hit the ground running with Lampard back in the groove, old school routine even you might say.

If ever a contemporary player is a throwback to a previous era then Lampard surely is, especially in the sense he is more like an old fashioned inside forward (a ‘number 10’ or ‘number 8’) than what has become the more restricted role of most conventional central midfielders.

Perhaps that is partly due to the fact he inherits a strong DNA from his father Frank who was a West Ham legend in the seventies and eighties; he plays with a more thoughtful less rushed style of that era and his attitude and respect towards the spirit of the soccer reflects his understanding of the game’s history.

When he was first coming through the ranks at West Ham he was referred to as Frank junior, because at the time his dad was still THE Frank and also assistant manager (and brother in law) to Harry Redknapp. Now of course young Frank is now plain Frank, while the old man is known as Frank senior.

It is incredible now to reflect not long after he emerged into the West Ham first team following a short spell on loan to Swansea, he became the subject of an increasing barrage of criticism from short-sighted West Ham supporters.

Essentially the allegation was that Lampard was only in the team because of nepotism.

An exchange at a fans forum where Redknapp had to defend Lampard’s ability (Harry is young Frank’s uncle) now looks plain ridiculous and exposes those West Ham fans who branded him ‘Fat Frank’ as, well, thick. (click on the below link)

Since his £11 million move to Chelsea in 2001 Lampard, still in fine physical shape at 35, has become an all-time Chelsea legend, one of Premier League ‘Platinum’ and is just two short of 100 England caps.

Not bad for a kid who couldn’t play.

For the record: Matt Holland did bounce back with Ipswich and Charlton, playing for the Republic of Ireland at the 2002 World Cup. Scott Canham drifted on from Brentford, played for Orient then did a tour of non-league clubs ending up at Thurrock. He is now manager of Aveley who play in the Isthmian League.

Coming soon to BobbyFC: Frank Talking with Frank Lampard Snr and Frank Lampard Jr.