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Jose in the highest

Despite Chelsea’s failure to retain the Premiership title this season, Jose Mourinho still deserves the full backing of the club’s board.

Tony Cascarino, 17 May 2007

The main reason Chelsea ran out of steam at the end of the season is that there have been a lot of internal problems at the club.

There have been issues with Peter Kenyon and the sporting director, Frank Arnesen, Lampard and Terry haven’t signed new deals, they’ve had a glut of injuries, Jose Mourinho’s transfers haven’t worked for him, which caused a lot of troubles in the boardroom, etc, etc. In general, Mourinho did an unbelievable job given the difficult circumstances. But the board have got to give him their full backing, because he’s earned it.

Chelsea haven’t lost a league game at home since early 2004, and when you take Porto into account, this is the first time a Mourinho-managed team has failed to win their league in five years! I hope Mourinho is still at Chelsea next season, because whether you love him or hate him, he’s been brilliant for the Premiership. He’s a character, he’s done an incredible job, and his team are the most remarkable bunch of lads, they really try their socks off for the club. The resilience they showed against Arsenal with 10 men, for example, was magnificent, and that never-say-die attitude is a reflection of Mourinho.

With regard to the sides relegated from the Premiership, I have to say I disagree with Neil Warnock’s comments about Sheffield United being at a disadvantage due to the bigger clubs fielding weaker teams towards the end of the season. The fact is that all managers – including Warnock – field weakened sides when it suits them. When Sheffield United played a midweek game at Old Trafford, they had home games on the Saturdays before and after, and Warnock left out four of his more established players. I think when managers look at end-of-season fixtures, they’ve got to take into account that teams might leave out certain individuals.

It wasn’t all that unbelievable that West Ham got a result at Old Trafford. They were playing a team without an edge, who’d won the league in midweek, and have a Cup Final coming up. The bottom line is that Sheffield United couldn’t beat Wigan at home and found themselves in dire trouble as a result. Nonetheless, Sheffield United are looking for support in their legal bid to get West Ham relegated for breaking transfer relegations, and it will be intriguing to see how that develops.

It’s been an interesting period on the managerial front recently, with Paul Jewell resigning from Wigan and now expected to take over at Man City, where Stuart Pearce has been sacked. What boards hate most is money being spent wastefully and, unfortunately for Pearce, his signings were pretty dire. Corradi and Samaras haven’t worked out, and then there were the problems with Ben Thatcher and, more recently, Joey Barton.

I like Joey Barton, I think he’s a very, very good footballer. He shouldn’t have done what he did to Ousmane Dabo, and he’ll suffer for it, probably in the courts. Maybe he’ll learn, maybe he won’t. There have been plenty of instances of temperamental players completely losing their heads down through the years, but if they’re doing the business on the field, clubs tend to persevere with them in the hope that their intermittent outbursts won’t be severe enough to warrant dismissal.

It’s been interesting to read the rumours about Roy Keane moving in for Barton. I know Roy likes to do a bit of boxing on the punchbag, so maybe he wants someone to join him! On a more serious note, I think Roy would understand how Barton works, and would be interested in getting him because, first and foremost, he’s an excellent footballer. Roy’s also been linked with a move for Neil Lennon as well, so I think he’ll be looking for a mixture of youth and experience in the Premiership next year.

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