Jose Mourinho has an obvious affinity with large passenger transport vehicles. He is very adept at parking buses and, in his capacity as a coach, the removal of his teeth would ordinarily accommodate 52 seats.
But for once – sadly, probably just the once – Jose is keeping his poisonous ‘Norf & Sarf’ shut. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ is in a strop and seeking to perpetuate the myth that his Chelsea team are being victimised by all and sundry.
Notwithstanding the media corps who kiss his putrid Portuguese backside and hang on his every word, the snide, sneering one has taken it upon himself to play hooky with the press.
Jose is sulking and doesn’t want to come out to play. In a similar fashion, Manchester City didn’t allow his supposedly all-conquering team ‘out of their room’ throughout the second half at Stamford Bridge.
Manuel Pellegrini – the antithesis of moaning Maureen – summed up the mood of the champions declaring that it ‘…was not a good point at Stamford Bridge…’ because ‘City came for the win from the first minute…’
Never a truer word was spoken by City’s cool Chilean leader, as his side shrugged off the disappointments of consecutive 2-0 defeats to Arsenal and Middlesbrough, to come within a whisker of beating Chelski.
The Sky commentary team, pundits and the media masses whinged relentlessly that the poor Chelsea darlings must have been tired after their Tuesday night ‘run out’ with Liverpool. And of course, Dirty Diego was busy being sanitised on the sidelines with the injured Fabregas.
City were missing Yaya, Nasri and the anticipated goals of new signing Wilfried Bony. They’d also been without key players Aguero, Silva, Dzeko and Kompany for prolonged periods this season, but it warranted little more than a throwaway line.
Pellegrini and City did their talking on the pitch and were clearly superior. Jose’s charabanc shenanigans were perfectly illustrated by his substitution of goal scorer Remy for centre back Cahill.
According to Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy, Maureen wasn’t being negative he was being ‘clever’. Pragmatic – maybe, fearful – most definitely!
Can you imagine if Pellegrini adopted the same mentality at the Etihad, bringing Aguero off and sending on Boyata – the media would have crucified him!
On the subject of crosses, Jesus came to the party as Navas had one of his finest games for City. Not quite City’s saviour, but an excellent showing.
He fired in the cross that had the usually reliable Courtois flapping as James Milner raced into the 18-yard box. The Belgian keeper parried the ball only as far as Aguero, whose low drive was deflected into the gaping Chelsea net by the immaculate Silva.
City’s deserved equaliser on the stroke of half time cancelled out Remy’s opener just four minutes prior.
A fluent Chelsea attack – sorry, make that Chelsea’s only fluent attack – saw Hazard hit a perfectly weighted volley cross into the stand-in striker’s path for an easy score from three yards out.
A despairing Kompany was slow to react and couldn’t intercept for fear of scoring an own goal.
It was one of only two Chelsea shots on target as the home side were limited to three attempts in total – their worst figures since 2003 – and this against a much maligned City rearguard, constantly disrupted by injuries and plagued with indecision in recent weeks.
The po-faced Portuguese reptile became increasingly animated on the touchline as the ‘master tactician’ saw his team retreat, retreat and then retreat a bit more. City were hunting the three points that would blow the title race wide open.
Unquestionably the moral victors, City had to settle for just the one point, but with 45 still up for grabs, the Sky Blues will take huge encouragement from the manner of the draw.
City have weathered a chronic list of injuries in the first half of the season, whereas Chelsea have been very fortunate in keeping key players out of harm’s way.
It’s only going to take one Chelsea defeat and a draw and City could be back on level pegging. On this performance, City have rediscovered their passion, desire and confidence that they can retain the title.
Aguero and Silva linked well as the spearhead, whereas Navas and Milner worked tirelessly in all areas of the pitch with verve and conviction.
The intensity and work ethic, so scandalously lacking since the turn of the year was back, and what a difference it made.
Bacary Sagna was a surprise inclusion for Pablo Zabaleta, albeit the Argentine legend hasn’t been at his best for a few games.
Clichy was outstanding and seems to have consigned Kolarov to the bench for the foreseeable future.
The imperious Martin Demichelis was there alongside skipper Vincent Kompany who, while still not back to his best, was a damned sight better than in the two recent 2-0 reversals.
Fernandinho was his usual industrious self and could have been on the score sheet, had he made a better connection with a second half header.
This was a very palatable City performance, the only disappointment being Fernando who continues to struggle with the pace of the Premier League.
One can only hope it’s a period of adjustment for the Brazilian/Portuguese defensive midfielder, but at times he appears like an unintelligent drug addict – always caught in possession.
Pellegrini and Txiki Begiristain pursued Fernando over a prolonged period before he eventually signed from Porto for £12m – they must have seen something in him. One can only hope it becomes apparent to the rest of us sooner rather than later.
At the risk of being branded a heretic, even referee Mark Clattenburg (he’ll always be Twattenburg to me) had a decent game, not screwing City blind in his usual fashion.
He did, however, book Fernando and Silva when Ramires and Matic were far more deserving of seeing yellow.
The introduction of Super Frankie Lampard for Fernando in the 77th minute was greeted with widespread applause, although some Neanderthals saw fit to boo the returning Chelsea hero.
Respect is such a virtue in any walk of life and a warm, hearty handshake is an excellent way of conveying it man-to-man.
It’s a shame that Mourinho elected to greet Lamps with a half-hearted effort whilst looking in the opposite direction. Still, what should we expect from a man who believes eye-gouging to be an acceptable touch line habit?
Sticking a thumb in the eyes of your opponent falls outside of the Queensbury Rules, but Chelsea didn’t lay a glove on the champions in the last 55 minutes – not one attempt on target.
Watched by a global audience of 650 million – the 2014 Superbowl attracted 115 million viewers – City are big box office nowadays. The Battle of the Bridge attracted a record number of international broadcasters – 24 in total.
The previous record – 19 – was set in April 2012 when City beat Manure 1-0 en-route to the title. There’s an interesting common denominator in there and it’s extremely sky blue.
Clearly City are moving through the gears both on and off the field of play. Jose, on the other hand, is slamming on the handbrake and ensuring the security lock is on the steering wheel.
By David Walker
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu