Andriy anonymous, Roman fiddles, Jose burns

Shevchenko's failure stems from collision of billionaire owner and proud manager. Nick Townsend reports

For over 70 minutes the man regarded as the catalyst for the cold war between Roman Abramovich and Jose Mourinho sat, in tracksuit and woolly hat, and waited and waited. Welcome to the surreal world of Chelsea politics, where the £30 million Andriy Schevchenko can't get a game, even with his team looking an insipid apology for the one who turned over Liverpool 4-1 in the corresponding fixture last season.

Finally, almost as a last act of desperation, Mourinho gestured him on. A season or more ago, the introduction of the one of the world's most potent strikers would have provoked anxiety among the hosts, even with the two-goal advantage they held. Yesterday, they scarcely gave him a second thought. They didn't need to do so. Here was Andriy the Anonymous once again.

Which is not further to demonise the Ukrainian who last week claimed he was being made a scapegoat for Chelsea's ills. Rather it exemplifies the London club's problems, which all appear to emanate from the deteriorating relationship between owner and manager, principally over the club's transfer policy - both the recent lack of it and Shevchenko's acquisition last summer - but also concern the role and responsibilities of the club's youth football director, Frank Arnesen.

For the moment, while Roman fiddles, Jose simmers.

There was no Abramovich present to witness Mourinho's first defeat by Rafa Benitez in the Premiership. The Chelsea owner is apparently away on business. From both perspectives that is probably just as well. This would not have made pleasant viewing for the Russian.

Earlier in the week, at the Houses of Parliament, Chelsea unveiled their first corporate social responsibility report. It revealed they gave £4m to charity last year. There was generosity of a different kind from them yesterday. The London side's shortcomings - an appropriate word - were all too apparent from the third minute, when Crouch's presence was about as enjoyable viewing for the visitors as an electricity pylon in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Watching the enforced centre-backs, Michael Essien and Ferreira, attempt to counter him could only induce sympathy. John Terry, Khalid Boulahrouz and Ricardo Carvalho were all absent, and Claude Makelele was suspended. It all confirmed why Mourinho has attempted to sign Bolton's Israeli defender Tal Ben Haim, a move that fell through.

The Chelsea manager emphasised his frustration at being unable to reinforce his squad for the weeks ahead. "I am the manager. I am not the owner or the chief executive. I am not the chairman, just the manager, and I give my opinions to the club," said Mourinho. "The club try, if they want, to give me what I think is good for the team. I am not criticising anybody. At the end of December I gave my opinion as always, and that was that we needed two players. We needed a central defender and a second player because Joe Cole is probably out for the season."

He added: "Arjen Robben is injured a lot of the time and it is never for a small period, so in my view we need two players. But even before the market opened we knew of incredible figures for players. Even if we were desperate we cannot pay what people want in this crazy game."

Though a mere two victories still separate Chelsea and United, they are divided by many more points psychologically. Chelsea are a wounded animal. Yesterday, the heart was torn out by the loss of Terry and Co.

Unsurprisingly, Mourinho doesn't quite see it that way. "We are very, very short of players, but my group is mentally strong," he said. "We are ready for the fight we have to face in all competitions. If Manchester United win [against Arsenal today], nine points is the gap, but it is not finished. If they draw or lose, I'll be very confident we can still do it."

Mourinho continues to present a brave face as fissures appear in Abramovich's football empire. Though the manager recommitted himself to Chelsea this week, it was with the caveat "if the club support me". Neither that nor yesterday's events did anything to allay the suspicion that this season will be his last here.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering