Monday, October 30, 2006

Have they gone too far?

So often in the last few years Jose Mourinho and Chelsea fans themselves have gone on about being victimised by the media. Comments written in newspapers and made by people on radio or TV coming out criticising the actions of Mourinho, CFC or the players or spreading gossip about Mourinho’s future at Chelsea, criticism of their style of play and conduct in comparison to clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal have been commonplace. Until now I was willing to put up with this, being the best means you are going to get criticism. However, when it came to the issue of Steve Hunt v Petr Cech, which was reckless and avoidable, the majority – with one notable exception – side not with the player who almost lost his life or with the club he plays for, but no, with Steven Hunt and Reading.

Let it be clear, Petr Cech could and would have died of his injury if it had been left unoperated or undiagnosed. Get that? Not just his career, but his whole life would be over. Gone. Past. Nobody who has experienced the loss of a close relative or friend would wish that on anyone. Yet in my opinion a lot of the media have used this as an opportunity to attack Chelsea and Jose Mourinho while they’re down. That is inexcusable.

When Jose Mourinho was first interviewed after the game he said it could be a life-threatening injury and a lot of people at first thought he was over-reacting. Yet it came out later that indeed he was right. Petr Cech could have lost his life. Then Mourinho went on to say that the tackle on Cech was entirely deliberate and that Hunt should be punished. The Monday after the game had a feature written by a tabloid journalist saying that not only was Hunt completely innocent, but that he should sue Mourinho for slander or libel.

Looking at the incident over and over, it seems more and more clear that this was an avoidable injury. Petr Cech had control over the ball and there was no chance of Hunt winning it back. He had long enough to realise this and jump over Cech and avoid any injury. Instead, to ‘let him know he was about’ he left his leg in. I’m sure that his intention was not to cause injury, just enough pain to know that Hunt wasn’t going to take any prisoners. Nevertheless, whatever the intent, in my opinion, and that of many Chelsea fans and indeed players and staff, is that the tackle was reckless and avoidable, and caused serious injury to the player. Under the laws of the game that is a sending off offence.

But however clear this may be to a lot of people, both the media (largely) and the FA have decided that it was an unavoidable accident and attach no blame to Hunt whatsoever. Hunt is not punished and the media launch a headlong assault on Chelsea and their manager for over-reacting and making false accusations.

This got even worse when Mourinho made what were probably in hindsight unwise comments regarding the situation with the ambulance on the Tuesday afterwards. Of course, the media took that one line out of a very long press conference, most of which I am reliably informed was not reported on at all, and used it again as a stick to beat Mourinho with.

However, you can understand how Mourinho felt. Emotions were running very high amongst everyone at that time, even the fans, yet alone his family, friends, manager and team-mates. Mourinho was upset and frustrated about what had happened and maybe said things that in hindsight he wouldn’t. He had every right to be angry at that time. To me, his actions are excusable given the situation. But whatever he said, it was interpreted as an attack on Reading and the local ambulance service, which of course it wasn’t. If people had listened to him after the game, he had been in fact very complimentary to the Reading team and their manager for the way they played and approached the game. But of course, being positive, this was lost in the carnage that followed.

More allegations of arrogance and even worse of exploiting the incident to fire up his players for a big match. That was absolutely sickening. Mourinho would never stoop so low about anyone, yet alone one of his own team. And all this while Petr Cech was still in his hospital bed recovering from a life-threatening injury, which had been lost in the clamour to criticise Chelsea and Mourinho. In the last week I’ve read articles calling Mourinho a buffoon, arrogant, a moaner and that no-one listens to what he says anymore. Well if that’s true then they aren’t really doing a very good job of proving it.

The media are the ones in my opinion who have exploited this situation, not Mourinho. They have leapt on the opportunity to attack Mourinho and Chelsea, whilst Cech was still in hospital recovering from an injury that threatened his life and was completely avoidable. The FA have as usual washed their hands of the whole thing, and Hunt comes up smelling of Roses and Mourinho, who has to suffer the consequence of losing his best goalkeeper to an avoidable injury, is the one criticised.

Sorry, but to me the media have gone too far this time. What they have done is completely out of order and shows a lack of respect for human life in favour of grabbing a headline. It truly sickens me and I suspect a lot of other fans out there. The sad thing is there is little we can do to stop it other than not read the newspapers. As long as the general public read it they will write it, conveniently ignoring the facts and the pain of a player and his family, in favour of getting a story. Sick.