I am in the Sportshaq, Surulere, Lagos. I am having an interesting conversation with my friend and sports guru, Godwin Dudu-Orumen. Godwin is not one to share a conversation with, about Chelsea and Mourinho unless, like him, you are a die-hard supporter of both the club and ‘the Special One’.
So, unless you are ready for ‘war’ do not engage Omo Dudu in a debate on either of those subjects. But this day I am in good spirits. I have just come back from giving away my daughter in marriage in London, I am looking for Dudu’s trouble.So, I tell him about the wedding in the West End of London. I also tell him that at about the same time as our ceremony was going on, a short distance away in Soho, another wedding was taking place that should interest him and all fans of Chelsea FC. Trust Dudu, he is all ears now.
It is the wedding of Dr. Eva Carneiro, the former medical chief of Chelsea FC who had a spat with Jose Mourinho at the start of the ongoing season. I tell him that a lot of people are attributing Chelsea’s recent travails to that incident.
I have his full attention now, I go on.
My personal opinion on the matter is not based on anything technical. Of course, technically, I respect Jose Mourinho as a great coach and Chelsea FC as a great team (by EPL standards).
So far, so good, Dudu is listening to me carefully, watching and waiting for the catch. He knows I am baiting him. He knows that I am a full-fledged Barcelona fan, and that even in the EPL, my choice of team would be Arsenal, not Chelsea, so between us, to avoid a blowout of emotions and sentiments, we deliberately avoid discussing the EPL whenever we are together. So, why am I heading in that direction now?
I go on.
Who says that football is immune from the vagaries of ephemeral considerations and interventions? Morality and ethics influence the fortunes of teams. What the hell am I talking about? I am attracting the attention of a few other persons on our table at this point.
I recall an incident involving Eva and Mourinho.
Chelsea’s pre-season matches had not gone well. The team lost several matches but Mourinho was not worried about their poor performances. He kept assuring everyone that pre-season matches were not that important and that the team would rebound with the start of the season.
Chelsea lost their first match and had to meet Swansea FC in the second.
The match was not going well. With the game tied at 2-2 and Chelsea under pressure, the club’s most expensive player, the EPL’s player of the last season, Eden Hazard, went down following a clash with an opposing defender. The referee beckoned to the medical crew to come and attend to the injured player. Dr. Eva Carneiro responded and ran on to the field to attend to the player writhing on the ground.
To the consternation of all, Jose Mourinho was gesticulating, ranting and cursing on the sidelines. His fury was directed at the doctor.
Later, he explained what his problem was. The team’s doctor did not seek for his permission before rushing on to the pitch. He had signaled to her to delay her entry as a time-wasting strategy. He described her as naïve and accused her of not understanding the game of football. This was a doctor that had served the team for 6 years!
For her conduct in reacting first as a medical before being part of the team’s technical strategy drew Mourinho’s ire. He thereafter, stripped her of all her team duties and banned her from attending subsequent Chelsea matches. To many people his action was unacceptable, macho, arrogant, inhuman, humiliating and degrading. How could the result of the match be more important to him than the fate of his injured player?
Dr. Carneiro resigned from the club and took Mourinho before an employment tribunal to seek redress with the charge of constructive dismissal. The case is still ongoing.
Dudu is seething now. He can see where I am going, I can also see disapproval written all over him. I goad him further. The elements are now intervening on her behalf. Mourinho’s pre-season woes have been compounding and things have not been normal with the team because he scorned a woman.
Trust Dudu, he erupts like a volcano. Chelsea FC have had their problems before the Eva incident. In fact, by the end of the last season that Chelsea won the team was in decline in terms of their performance. What Chelsea FC needed to do at the start of the season was introduce some good players in certain critically weak positions in the team. Dudu insists he expressed this to friends at the start of the season. The team did not heed his advice that’s why they are facing their present ordeal, not because of some woman whose relationship with some of the players was suspected not to be pristine.
I remind Dudu that I am not discussing technical matters. So, I sideline his interjection and continue.
Mourinho planted the seed of his travails by publicly humiliating an innocent woman who was simply carrying out her professional duties by attending to an injured player. He disagrees, I go on nevertheless.
Some people think Jose Mourinho should publicly apologise to Eva or be ready to continue to grope furtively in the dark, searching for what is not missing, and hoping that time will change his present ‘misfortune’!
Dudu flips. No way, the Special One will not apologise! I rub a little pepper on the sore wounds I have opened with this uncomfortable and irritating conversation. I draw parallels for Dudu from history.
OJ Simpson, the American Football hero and iconic actor. His life ‘ended’ with the ‘killing’ of his wife.
South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius. He has gone to jail and has known no peace since he ‘mistakenly’ shot and killed his girl friend.
The most celebrated and one of the greatest golfers in history, Tiger Woods. His career went into free fall from the moment his wife discovered he was cheating on her and they had an altercation.
Dudu is fuming at this point. "These are not parallels" he says. I know when to withdraw my fire. ‘Okay, Omo Dudu’, I tell him, ‘don’t lets continue the discussion anymore’. A broad smile comes spreads across his face.
As we both retire to our different corners on the matter, Williams Congreve’s words in his play, The Mourning Bride rings in my head: ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. Let Jose Mourinho eat humble pie, come down from his high horse, apologize to Eva Carnerio and escape the curse of the scorned woman.