“You have to be pragmatic and ask the Chelsea supporters if they are happy with the Cup or if they would prefer to play a Brazilian Samba game and go home without the Cup” – Jose Mourinho on winning the League Cup, 2007
Last year, Chelsea made two trips to the United States. On their first trip over, just after the season, they played one game in St. Louis and a second at Yankee Stadium. On the Chelsea side, that game was notable for the lack of a couple key players, the club’s give-aways of pins and flags to the fans, and a great game from Juan Mata, who was brought on in the second half. Their opponents, Manchester City, had just announced their partnership with the Yankees to bring a MLS team to New York and appropriately, I suppose, won 5-3. At the end of the game, Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez left the field with a wave, his last game with the Blues.
The second visit was notable for a few reasons as well. John Terry was back in the side, and although Frank Lampard had traveled with the team, he didn’t play, but was there.. But the biggest change was that once again Jose Mourinho was leading the team from the side. It was Chelsea over AC Milan that afternoon 2-1. The Special One was back, albeit to a mixed response from the crowd.
The film The Blue Revolution looks at his first stint with Chelsea following the team, manager, management and fans through interviews and highlights. A fan piece, it spends much of its time with a London bar owner, a Chelsea season ticket holder, a Londoner living in New York and a Texan who once studied abroad in London and came back to the States with Chelsea fever.
Three seasons are a lot to put into a film that is just barely over 1 ½ hours long.
However the extras are as interesting as the film itself, perhaps even more interesting with the benefit of hindsight. In broadened interviews, Mourinho picks at a car door lock and ash tray as he rides with the interviewer in a minivan while he talks about the team. He describes their preparation as thorough in learning about the other team, but what is as important is not changing their own game, that ‘staying themselves’ is the way to winning. Other teams have to adapt to Chelsea.
Frank Lampard: “Things happen and then the manager kind of, you know, he reacts to (those) things. At Chelsea now, Mourinho happens and then everyone else reacts. You know what I mean?”
John Terry: “All the players, we love him at Chelsea He’s been a revelation ever since he arrived here. Not only just as a man, he’s a great man, but as a coach he’s the best I’ve ever worked with. On the pitch he’s spot on. He’s very passionate. He says things that are on his mind.”
Sir Richard Attenborough: “I found him always a man of great charm, a wonderful persona. He’s a star, he’s a star player. If he was playing rather than managing he would dominate the field. I think our future is very tied up with him.”
Peter Kenyon: “We want to become the London team. There’s 13 different teams in London, top quality football teams. We’ve decided that we want to become London’s team. He wants Chelsea to make a difference. The press is pure speculation, because actually nobody knows him….he’s passionate about Chelsea. He’s passionate. If we win we want to win stylishly. If we lose we want to lose with dignity and graciousness. He’s in it for the long term, and I think he’s the best possible thing to happen to Chelsea football.”
The difference in these quotes is that Peter Kenyon is talking about owner Roman Abramovich. The lines are already subtly being drawn, and even the fans can feel that things are going too far before the UEFA Champions League match against Barcelona in March, 2006. During the film, a traveling fan who is in Europe for the game talks about the tension, the feeling in the air that is not pleasant, but poisonous, dangerous.
Mourinho says something in the film that is telling. It is that his family wants to go to Disney without him. Is it his fame, or is it the controversy that he has been stirring up that makes them want to go alone? There is something lonely, utterly isolated within the place that a manager goes. Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph talks about the siege mentality that every manager builds up, but Mourinho pushed the bounds so far that Peter Kenyon speaks about the feeling that was aimed at the team before the Barcelona match:”Sometimes I don’t think we’ve helped ourselves and we got to take to responsibility for that.”
The team, he felt, had come to represent everything bad in Britain.
“The magnificence of Jose Mourinho as a manager will not be seen by me as a journalist, will not be seen by the fans, it will only be seen by the players behind the locked gates of the training ground,” says Henry Winter. Jose Mourinho pushed the team to the heights, but also alienated a lot people on the way up, including the fans, as his opening quote reflects.
It is a much darker film to watch now than when it was made as a fan piece, and that is not a bad thing. In fact it makes it even more appealing both to Chelsea fans who want to look at the background to understand what is happening with the club as well as to people who are not Chelsea fans. What did Edmund Burke say about history? “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
Blue Revolution: The Inside Story of Chelsea Football Club is available on DVD from World Soccer Shop.