Mourinho the fighter locked in a battle he cannot win must use diplomacy to achieve Uefa peace

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The Independent Football

When Jose Mourinho gives his pre-match team-talk this weekend, for once he will not be dwelling on metaphors that deal in images of battles and conquests. The man who has placed himself at the centre of the biggest diplomatic dispute between an English club and Uefa since the expulsion that followed Heysel 20 years ago will be telling his players that football is something to be cherished. That they should enjoy themselves and even, perhaps, that winning is not everything.

When Jose Mourinho gives his pre-match team-talk this weekend, for once he will not be dwelling on metaphors that deal in images of battles and conquests. The man who has placed himself at the centre of the biggest diplomatic dispute between an English club and Uefa since the expulsion that followed Heysel 20 years ago will be telling his players that football is something to be cherished. That they should enjoy themselves and even, perhaps, that winning is not everything.

If that sentiment seems improbable based on what we know about Mourinho then consider whose faces will be turned towards him when he speaks in the changing-rooms. Not John Terry, Frank Lampard and company this time, but the Palestinian and Israeli children who will make up a Jerusalem "peace team", sponsored by the former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres.

With formidably good timing, Mourinho will be departing the scene of the unholy row between Uefa and Chelsea this weekend for a couple of days in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as a guest of Peres and the "centre for peace" which bears the former premier's name. The Palestinian and Israeli children who attend the centre play alongside each other in mixed teams - and who better to teach them about the futility of conflict than a man who seems to be trying to fight the entire football world? Because, for the first time this season, Mourinho seems to be in a battle he cannot win.

It should not detract from Mourinho's admirable instinct to lend his precious time to make some lives a little better in the Middle East, but one can only hope that his diplomacy is a little better than it was in the Nou Camp four weeks ago. There has been no shortage of praise this season for a manager who has taken on English football's feudal system with a disregard for reputations that has been, at times, breathtaking. But it has been characterised by a sense of honesty and clarity of purpose that found embodiment in the rich exploits of Mourinho's team.

What Uefa accused Mourinho, his assistant Steve Clarke and official Les Miles, of yesterday was, effectively, lying. That Chelsea's accusations of skulduggery between Frank Rijkaard and the referee Anders Frisk at half-time, included in an as yet unseen report to the game's European governing body, were simply untrue. And the gravity of those allegations has been undiminished by what the affair has meant for the life and career of Frisk.

That the bureaucrats of an organisation so dedicated to the avoidance of controversy as Uefa should choose to come out from behind their desks and criticise Mourinho's integrity is serious indeed. It also begs the question of whether the high-stakes game into which Mourinho seems to plunge every time he speaks has been allowed to hurtle out of control by a young coach riding the volatile wave of his own talent and a newly enriched club who have difficulty comprehending the nuances of defeat.

English football has not been above employing the devious approach to victory. Bill Shankly was fond of providing an overabundance of toilet rolls in the away dressing-room as a symbol of the way that fear could manifest in some of the opponents of his formidable Liverpool teams.

Wet changing-room floors and tea scarcely warmer than the cold showers that opposition teams were forced to use have all been staples of English football. There were those in Don Revie's Leeds teams who were known to offer assistance to a grounded opponent with one hand and gouge with the other. And lately, the notion of gamesmanship has metamorphosed into "mind games", with the arch-exponent Sir Alex Ferguson proving once again this season that he still sets the standards in this particular field.

But what Chelsea stand accused of is infinitely more serious than an opposition team bus misdirected into traffic or a plate of stale sandwiches in the changing-rooms. Chelsea's undoing has been a report they insisted on sending to Uefa and which a few mild-mannered men from a country with a long history of neutrality felt sufficiently enraged about to go to battle over. Study the charge and you will notice in the wording "wrong and unfounded" that the Swiss have left no room for compromise.

Whether he is banned from the touchline, fined or reprimanded, Mourinho will, justifiably, be received as the new crown prince of European football when he arrives in Israel this week. In fact, it will reveal to him just how his reputation has grown even since Porto's European Cup win last year. English football tends to confer that prestige upon its best, but it comes with responsibility. He is not putting out the cones for Bobby Robson or coaching Uniao de Leiria any more. The look on the faces of those children in Jerusalem will tell him that, from now on, what he says and what he does carries with it the weight of responsibility.

Miffed with Mourinho the enemies he has made

Uefa

Charged Jose Mourinho, Steve Clarke and Les Miles with bringing the game into disrepute after Chelsea presented a dossier to Uefa detailing their claim that the Barcelona coach, Frank Rijkaard, had entered the changing-room of the referee, Anders Frisk, during the first leg of their Champions League first knock-out round tie in Spain. Chelsea were also fined for not attending the post-match press conference.

Anders Frisk

The Swede retired from refereeing after receiving death threats in the wake of Mourinho's accusations in Barcelona.

Barcelona

Already irked by Mourinho's pre-match criticism of his track record, Rijkaard was annoyed when Mourinho named the Barcelona team and infuriated when he, effectively, accused him of trying to influence Frisk at the Nou Camp. Rijkaard and players Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldinho were then man-handled by Chelsea stewards at the second leg.

Arsenal

London rivals reported Chelsea to Premier League for allegedly "tapping up" Ashley Cole. The case is being investigated.

Liverpool

The club is disenchanted by Chelsea's public pursuit of Steven Gerrard; the supporters were upset when Mourinho (left) "shushed" them at the Carling Cup final.

Manchester United

After Chelsea poached Peter Kenyon from Old Trafford, United made their former chief executive sit out the rest of last season on "gardening leave". They were further disgruntled when PSV Eindhoven's Arjen Robben joined Chelsea not them.

The FA

Fined Mourinho £5,000 and warned him as to future conduct after he used word "cheat" when suggesting the referee Mike Riley was influenced by Sir Alex Ferguson at half-time in clubs' January Carling Cup tie. Chelsea Fined and warned as to future conduct over conduct against Blackburn at Ewood Park in February.

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