21 September 2007
CHELSEA AT THE GATE OF DOOM WITH JOSE'S EXIT
By IAN McGARRY (The Sun)
DIDIER DROGBA is used to reducing opposition defences to quivering wrecks.
But yesterday morning it was the 6ft-plus powerhouse who broke down in tears after Jose Mourinho hugged him like a son.
The changing room at Chelsea’s Cobham training HQ is usually a hub of noise and banter on any given morning.
Drogba will often try to hog the stereo system to play his rap music while the players get changed and warm up for their daily session.
This time, though, the only sound was silence.
Mourinho had told two of his team he would drop by just after 10 o’clock and collect his belongings before going to say goodbye to ‘his family.’
Nobody was late and barely a word was said as they waited for him.
Some of the younger lads got changed as usual but quickly realised this would be no ordinary day at the club.
A couple of the senior players remembered the day Claudio Ranieri made the same journey to the old training ground. They recalled the sickness in their stomach at the knowledge they were losing someone they loved and respected.
Chelsea has changed almost unrecognisably since Roman Abramovich fired Ranieri. The way the players feel about Mourinho is also incomparable.
When he stepped into the dressing room almost every player was by his usual change station.
Two or three tried to greet him but his body language said that he would do the talking.
Without any fuss or ceremony, the former Chelsea manager moved towards one side of the room to speak to the players.
Brazil star Juliano Belletti was one of the first.
In Portuguese, Mourinho spoke warmly of his performances since he signed for Chelsea and wished the defender luck.
Alex, his countryman, was next and was given similar treatment.
One by one, Mourinho moved around the rectangular room — speaking to each of the players and thanking them for their work while he was boss.
With some — like Petr Cech and Ricardo Carvalho — he put his hands on their face and reminded them of shared glory ... the first title, last season’s FA Cup ...
Mourinho told them how proud he was of what they had achieved and asked that they pass on his best wishes to their wives and children.
Others were not treated with such kindness. Andriy Shevchenko was offered a handshake which, according to one member of staff, could have “frozen a mug of tea.”
And then came Didi. The big Ivory Coast striker smiled at his boss but there was nothing in his look to suggest this was a time for happiness.
Mourinho put his hands on the player’s arms and spoke a little louder, as if he wanted some people to hear his words.
“You are one of the best strikers in the world and you have made yourself into one of the best players,” Mourinho told him. “I am very proud of you, Didi — and you should be proud of yourself.
“You have worked hard and you are a winner. Always remember you are a winner.”
Mourinho then put his arms around the hitman and hugged him like a departing father.
As he moved on, Drogba failed to keep himself together and broke down in tears.
Mourinho continued his circuit but only repeated the kind of praise he had for the striker when he embraced Frank Lampard.
And so he left the room and picked up a few personal belongings he had collected from his office — including a photo of his two children with their pet dog.
Once again, there was silence save for Florent Malouda — who had put his arm around Drogba to comfort him.
Chief executive Peter Kenyon had the unenviable task of following Mourinho in to address the players. Kenyon informed them that Avram Grant would become general manager and Steve Clarke first-team coach.
He began to try and explain the past couple of days but quickly realised his audience were not interested in who was replacing their leader.
Their loyalty to Mourinho — unlike Chelsea’s — was never in question. To his players, he will always be Special.
utusanLFC : to sympathy or not to sympathy... errr.... naaaah... it's the name of the game. If Chelsea is trying to emulate Real Madrid in sacking or appointing manager to their wits... so let it be lah. But Jose... you did gave us (LFC) a satisfying moment with defeating your team in Champions League. We do know Garcia could be smiling silently in Spain reading the story and Agger's acurate shot last season was among the most memorable goals we've scored against Jose's Chelsea.
hmmm... to sympathy or not... who cares... hahahaha (Jose still a multimillionaire no matter how he is sacked...hmmmm)