Mourinho in crisis talks at Chelsea

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The Independent Online

Tensions between Jose Mourinho and Chelsea will come to a head today when the club finally decides whether to appeal against the two-match Champions' League touchline ban imposed on him by Uefa. However, it emerged yesterday that Mourinho's annoyance at what he sees as a lack of support from Chelsea over the issue is only the tip of the iceberg regarding his complaints which have reached crisis point at the club.

Tensions between Jose Mourinho and Chelsea will come to a head today when the club finally decides whether to appeal against the two-match Champions' League touchline ban imposed on him by Uefa. However, it emerged yesterday that Mourinho's annoyance at what he sees as a lack of support from Chelsea over the issue is only the tip of the iceberg regarding his complaints which have reached crisis point at the club.

Mourinho will hold talks with the chief executive, Peter Kenyon, and although Chelsea had initially indicated they would accept the ban, and the £41,000 in fines, the situation is now far less certain. Mourinho, who will be banished to the stands for both legs of the Champions' League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, opposes the club's view and has sought his own legal advice.

He is understood to have consulted the French sports lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, who has informed him that an appeal would have a good chance of succeeding. However, an appeal remains unlikely, which may prompt Mourinho into making his own statement. Although Mourinho is not at the stage where he is considering leaving Chelsea he is, according to sources, not happy at what he believes has been a lack of support from the club and the situation is delicately balanced. Mourinho is understood to have felt isolated by the Chelsea hierarchy in his dispute with Uefa and other matters. He is particularly unhappy with the way in which the club handled the disciplinary hearing in Nyon, Switzerland, on Thursday.

Mourinho was unable to attend because he was preparing his squad for the match against Southampton but he was upset that Kenyon did not lead the Chelsea delegation. Instead, the club sent their chairman, Bruce Buck, an American lawyer, and his comments, admitting some regret at the dispute, annoyed Mourinho further.

The manager also believes that because Buck is not "a name" in football, unlike Kenyon, it was a sign that Chelsea were not sufficiently backing him over his allegations that the Barcelona coach, Frank Rijkaard, had spoken with the referee, Anders Frisk, at half-time during their Champions' League first leg match. Mourinho, and Chelsea, were punished for their complaint over the incident which is alleged to have happened in the referee's private room at the Nou Camp on 23 February. It drew stinging criticism from Uefa, who accused Chelsea of lying over the events that took place and said they had contributed to a "poisoned and negative ambience" that led to Frisk's retirement.

Mourinho believes he has pushed Chelsea forward and contributed a great deal to the club's success. But he also feels that not everyone at Chelsea is working with him and, at the moment, believes he is somewhat isolated. He is also angry at a perceived lack of public support. For example, it is believed that he favoured holding a press conference immediately after the Barcelona incident in which the assistant manager, Steve Clarke, who saw the alleged meeting instead of Mourinho, would have given his version of events and cleared the air.

Mourinho also believes he has been left to fight it alone over the events surrounding the alleged illegal approach to Arsenal's Ashley Cole. Intriguingly, those close to Mourinho say that he never wanted to sign the Arsenal left-back and has actually already agreed a deal for another left-sided player who will join Chelsea next season. Mourinho, it is claimed, went to the meeting at the Royal Park Hotel in January because Kenyon had asked him to attend and cannot understand why Chelsea have not simply announced their new signing to quash the speculation.

Mourinho was also annoyed at the club's silence on Friday after the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, claimed that Chelsea needed to show "moral leadership". Indeed, he believes that unless he says something no one else will. Mourinho has also constantly asked why stories which appear in the media are not challenged more by the club, especially if they are untrue. It is also now clear that Mourinho's speech in Israel last week - in which he extolled the virtues of teamwork and of trust - was aimed as much to Chelsea's hierarchy as it was at Uefa.

It all makes for an awkward situation for Kenyon who will have to try to placate Mourinho while steering Chelsea away from the kind of controversy that an appeal against the punishment would bring, especially as it could lead to a longer ban for the manager. The reaction of the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, should also not be overlooked. Those close to him indicated over the weekend that he would take a dim view of any attempt by Mourinho to put pressure on the club.

With his side now 13 points clear at the top of the Premiership, Mourinho is entitled to feel confident about his position, especially as Real Madrid and Internazionale have expressed an interest. However, Mourinho also, privately, accepts he too has made mistakes this season.

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