LONDON — “I haven’t seen it this packed in years,” said one local journalist in the tiny press lounge at Chelsea Cobham training ground in London’s suburbs
[ MORE: Mourinho irked by Carneiro’s FB post ]
On Friday, media members flocked to see what Jose Mourinho had to say following his public criticism, then demotion, of two members of his medical staff made headlines around the world.
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The manager of the reigning Premier League champions looked as you would expect throughout: surly, unimpressed and defiant. It’s a look we’ve come to know well over the years as he sat and address the media from his perch three to four feet above the rest of the room.
Mourinho started by refusing to admit he’d done anything wrong in removing both Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn from the bench for all first-team matches, plus not letting them attend the team hotel and training sessions ahead of games for the foreseeable future. All of this comes after Carneiro and Fearn ran onto the pitch — beckoned by referee Michael Oliver to do so — late in Chelsea’s opening day game against Swansea City to treat an injured Eden Hazard.
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Already down to 10-men following Thibaut Courtois’ red card, Mourinho was incensed that his medical staff “didn’t understand the game” and momentarily left him with only eight outfield players as Swansea attacked.
Before Mourinho’s press conference began, Chelsea’s head of communications revealed that two other members of Chelsea’s medical staff will be on the bench for the clash against Manchester City on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) but that their names will not be released.
Addressing the media for the first time since widespread criticism of his decision to demote two highly respected members of his medical staff, here’s what Mourinho had to say, in just under 15 minutes, to a packed out press room.
Mourinho’s opening statement after asked if Carneiro, Fearn will be on bench and if he has any regrets:
I hope this room is full because the champions are going to play against the former champions. Because the transfer window is on fire and in the last period, because we have, hopefully, a big match on Sunday. But I knew it already, it is not a surprise. Your question is probably… most of the people here don’t even like football. They come for other reasons.
I don’t want to run away from it. I accept the question and understand the question. First of all I want to say I have a fantastic medical department with a top leader. With more than a dozen professional between doctors and physios and masseurs and specialist of different areas. I have a good relation with them.
As they tell me all the time, they were never praised so much as there were with me in the last couple of years. Because normally managers, when things go well they keep for themselves but when they have problems with injuries and related to medical department. That is when they talk about the medical department. I
I praise them lots of times in these couple of years. They don’t forget that, I don’t forget that. As they also told me yesterday, we have disagreements during this period. We need disagreements to improve. We work together. We improve together. That’s the way we do things.
This, I want to make it very, very clear. Your question about the bench, I have to say for some people the bench is very important. For other people it is not important. For some people it is not what people think you do, it is what you do.
The bench is my responsibility, yes. It is my decision, it is nobody else’s decision. Every week I face a decision about the bench. Every week with 25 players, 11 on the pitch, seven on the bench and seven of them are not even on the bench. I have to choose. I have seven assistants, only four can go on the bench. I have four kit men, only one can be on the bench. With the medical department, only two can go on the bench and we have more than a dozen. It is important to be on the bench for some, for others it is more important for their contribution. What they do.
I understand the question, I don’t want to run away from the question. John Fearn and Dr. Carneiro, they will not be on the bench but it doesn’t mean that Sunday is the rest of our season or the rest of our careers. They will not be on the bench on Sunday, that is clear, that decision is my responsibility but it doesn’t mean they will not be on the bench in the future.
If you want to speak with me about football, I’m here. If you want to speak to me about other issues, I am not here.
On if he regretted any part of his action:
I have no problem answering. You can take your conclusion by what I said. My relation with everyone who works, the majority, is an open relation, it is a relation open to disagreements, critic. The game is a very emotional space for every one of us. If a player has a bad reaction with a colleague or a member of staff. Football is football. The match is a match. Everything in a match can be different. Especially after the meeting I had with my medical department yesterday, where I got enough feedback to understand the way we have been doing things for two years and the kind of relation we have between all of us, allows us to have this kind of relation.
On the preparation for the game vs. Man City being impacted:
If somebody thinks that a disagreement between two members of the medical staff and the manager can affect the week, it is somebody who doesn’t have a a clue about what football is and preparation for matches. It is obviously not. The season is very, very long. We are speaking about 38 matches. 38 matches is an eternity. It is a marathon that started last week and ends in a around 10 months.
I cannot say it is crucial, I cannot say it is decisive. I cannot say that it is very, very important. But, two title contenders, three points. If you can get three and your opponents zero, it is important. I’m not going to say the game isn’t important but for sure the game doesn’t decide anything for the winner or the loser.
On team news:
Oscar is a doubt, he had a little injury in training. Courtois is suspended as you know. Apart from that, all good.
On if all successful managers have to be ruthless:
I speak about myself, I don’t speak about other managers. I am far from being ruthless. Far. Far. I have a fantastic relation with almost everyone who works with me. I am open to mistakes, communication dialogue, critics. I make mistakes. And as some people in my medical staff said to me yesterday, we work together, we improve together. I am far from being ruthless.
On Chelsea fans being concerned about lack of transfer activity:
Chelsea supporters are worried about the transfer window, they must be until the moment Mr. Abramovich bought the club. Since Mr. Arbamovich bought the club, Chelsea supporters cannot speak in a negative way about the transfer market. They have to only speak in a positive way and praise the owner and praise the board. The dedication and all the owner did for the club has been absolutely amazing and is obviously a fantastic contribution to the success the team had in previous years. We managers, we won titles. Players won titles, the club won titles.
Everybody had a contribution and I think the contribution of the owner as being massive in that aspect. If in this moment we are not top of the league in relation to the spenders, it doesn’t mean people have to be worried. First of all the transfer window is not closed, it is open until the August 31. Second, you don’t always have to be ‘champion in the market.’ Third, we do things when we have to do and when we think we can do it at the right moment. For example when two years ago we didn’t buy a striker and people was a bit disappointed we didn’t buy a striker, we didn’t buy a striker because we knew the next year Diego Costa is coming and is coming for a price that is established in his contract. Sometimes you have to think more than the moment. Many, many times is the reason why we don’t discuss things publicly or explain publicly because we work inside. The owner is the owner and he will be the owner for many, many years. The board has such a close relation with the owner. The board just gave me a four-year contract. We are in great stability and we work fantastically well.
On speaking to the players about why the doctors won’t be on the bench:
No. Why? With the players? No. Because the players, the only thing they need to be worried about is to have the best people around them. In this club they are surrounded by top quality people, they trust everybody the same way. In fact the most important thing for the players is the medical care they have during the week. They have to be in condition to perform the best they can.
On speaking to Eden Hazard about the incident:
I’m not discussing it. That’s my problem.