There were some concerns amongst a section of fans and the media that Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea and the Premier League wasn’t living up to its billing. A few columnists had even gone so far as to re-brand the Portuguese manager as the ‘Boring One’ as opposed to his favored nickname, “The Special One”.
The majority of these statements were made while Mourinho was beginning to learn more about his new/old club and the players he had inherited following his six years away from Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea were preseason favorites for the title, but had been inconsistent and/or underperforming according to some experts. At times, Mourinho himself looked less enthusiastic during press conferences and appeared irritated with the constant speculation around his team selection and player performances. The manager had also distanced himself from any managerial confrontations. There were hints at ‘mind games’ being played, but there was no Mourinho masterstroke to speak of (such as labeling Arsene Wenger a “voyeur”).
It was almost as if Mourinho had adopted a Zen management style, a la the LA Lakers/Chicago Bulls former head coach Phil Jackson.
But, over the past month or so, Chelsea has played like the legitimate title contenders everyone first thought they would be. And with one transfer, ‘The Special One’ has resurfaced to stir the pot once again.
Juan Mata’s imminent transfer from Chelsea to Manchester United has sent huge waves throughout the Premier League. What started as a rumor a few days ago has swiftly moved towards one of the biggest January transfer window deals in history.
One transfer deal has upset a portion of Mourinho’s own supporters at Chelsea, galvanized a distraught Manchester United fanbase, while visibly irritating two of the Portuguese manager’s bigger league rivals.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was the first to voice his displeasure concerning the Mata deal. With Chelsea having already played Manchester United twice this season, the French tactician feels that it is unfair for a player to be allowed to switch teams at this point of the season.
“I just think you would want that everybody is on the same level. I can understand completely what Chelsea is doing. Maybe the rules should be a bit more adapted to more fairness. Maybe the transfer window should stop when everybody has played once. That happens in the rest of Europe.”
Today, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini echoed Wenger’s feelings:
“United are getting a very good player, but personally I do not agree that a transfer like this can happen in the middle of the season. I do not think a player should be allowed to go from one club to another in the same league in January.
“It is not correct at this stage of the season. Maybe Arsene Wenger had a correct reason, when he pointed out Chelsea have already played United home and away, but my argument is a more general one.
“I just feel that if a player has made more than five or six appearances for his club, then he cannot join another one in the same league at the midway point. I just think if a player plays for a club for more than half of the season, a club with money can take the best players from the other teams. The rules are the rules, so you play by them, but I just think they should change. I am not saying scrap the January window, just change it.”
With just one transfer, “The Special One” has unnerved two of the Premier League’s biggest title contenders.