Claude Makelele’s grit in Chelsea’s midfield and ability to play a quick pass made him the fitting example of the ‘Claude Makelele’ role, whatever that means. It’s even been said that he’s managed to define the holding midfield position as much as Franz Beckenbauer the sweeper role. And he’s now cashing in on the footballer bio.
Makelele may have been adored at Stamford Bridge, but perhaps not so much anymore. Maybe it’s an attempt to sell hardcovers, or perhaps there’s some sort of perceived slight from Chelsea’s brave captain John Terry on the former French international while he played under Jose Mourinho in London. Undoubtedly, it’s an attempt to remain relevant at the end of his career, as any bio indicates.
Whatever the reason, much like Ashley Cole’s revelation that Cesc Fabregas was the main perpetrator in Pizzagate, Makalele’s decided to heap the culpability for Jose Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea on JT’s broad shoulders.
Apparently, Terry was unhappy with Mourinho’s assessment of his performance in the wake of back problems and went to chief executive Peter Kenyon to issue a transfer request. And this is where the word ‘talisman’ comes in. In owner Roman Abramovich’s mind, that was JT and not Mourinho, and the Portuguese was out.
Understandably, this may have simply been the inevitable outcome when two egos as large as Mourinho’s and Abramovich’s inhabit the same club. The notion that Mourinho left Stamford Bridge via ‘mutual consent’ was always hardly believable, but even the outspoken Mourinho had to filter his comments regarding the billionaire owner; he is a Russian oligarch after all.
It’s easy to label this as more celebrity footballer heresy, a tactic to sell books. But it isn’t hard to believe that what Makalele says is true. While Mourinho and Abramovich may have built Chelsea into the contender they are today, they also built a cult of personality around their players. Even Makelele was one, having ‘defined’ his eponymous role, and Frank Lampard and John Terry were the biggest of the heroes.
John Terry has endured a long career at Chelsea. He may only be 28, but his body has endured the abuse that can age a man, due to beginning his first team career early and his selfless attitude on the pitch. He’s the first man for Chelsea to put his body on the line for the good of the side. But at some point the hero worship must get to every player, and I’m sure one of the highest-paid at Chelsea isn’t immune to believing his own hype. Like all top center-halves, his experience will extend his career, but even the best are falliable.
Perhaps it was the end of a whirlwind ride for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. Perhaps the itch was already there for the charismatic manager, and the rest of Europe beckoned anyway. But you have to wonder if there was a legacy there for the taking for the Blues and Mourinho. Since his departure, it’s been nothing but heartache for fans and there’s a certain aura surrounding Chelsea, epitomized by their loss to Barcelona in the Champions League.
It’s hard not to see a group of overpaid, overblown egos, from Didier Drogba to Ashley Cole, and yes, perhaps even the selfless captain. Makelele also blames Mourinho for ruining the camaraderie of the dressing room at the Bridge, going to show that despite being a sport of men, it’s a world of little boys, all getting their feelings hurt. Guus Hiddink may have the opportunity to end his time at the club with the satisfaction of a cup win today, but Chelsea remain a pilot-less ship.
[ESPN, Daily Mail, Times]