Reading and NHS failed Cech, claims Mourinho
Jose Mourinho's fury at the fractured skull suffered by Petr Cech on Saturday has not diminished and yesterday he made the extraordinary claim that the goalkeeper could have died because of delays in treatment by South Central ambulance service NHS trust and Reading Football Club.
Even with the first of two back-to-back Champions' League ties against Barcelona tonight, Mourinho's mind was still on the injury to Cech after a visit to see the player at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford on Monday that the Chelsea manager described as "shocking". The condition of Cech, 24, has improved and Mourinho said that he could now speak and had asked for a television to watch football.
Occupying Mourinho's mind yesterday, however, was the 30 minutes that he claimed elapsed between Chelsea's doctor, Bryan English, "urgently" calling for an ambulance and Cech being picked up and taken to the Royal Berkshire hospital. In a wide-ranging attack on the care Cech received, Mourinho said: "If my goalkeeper dies in that dressing-room because of that process it is something for English football to think about."
Chelsea are preparing a letter of complaint to the Football Association which will detail all their grievances including the treatment of Cech, the actions of Stephen Hunt, whose knee inflicted the damage, and a touchline fracas involving Reading's coach, Kevin Dillon, and the Chelsea fitness expert, Rui Faria. Mourinho hinted darkly yesterday that he has noted the comments of pundits who had judged it to be an accident.
On the Cech incident, the Chelsea manager described a train of events that he said quickly became a "nightmare". After Dr English called for an ambulance at the Madejski Stadium he said it became clear the one assigned for match days was on the other side of the pitch and could not reach the dressing-room. Chelsea have suggested the match should have been stopped to allow it to cross the pitch.
Then Mourinho said that Chelsea's medical team were forced to switch Cech to a wheelchair despite his injuries and put him in a lift. Only then was the ambulance was able to take the Czech goalkeeper to hospital. It is a version of events that is strongly disputed by the South Central NHS Trust ambulance service.
"It seems to me that when I did the 'shut up' to the Liverpool fans [gesture at the 2005 Carling Cup final] it was a nightmare," Mourinho said. "It was a nightmare that a Manchester City player [Joey Barton] showed half his arse for two seconds - but this is a real nightmare. You like to write a lot of things. This is much more important than football. I'd like someone to tell me why my goalkeeper was in this situation for 30 minutes."
He got his answer sooner than expected. Reading accused Mourinho of making "very serious factual inaccuracies" and claimed it took just 26 minutes from an ambulance being called to Cech arriving at hospital.
According to Reading's timeline, Chelsea's medical staff were given a choice of transporting Cech in a wheelchair in a lift or around the pitch on a stretcher to the ambulance. They said after a collision that took place at 5.15pm, the player was in the dressing-room by 5.21pm. "At first it was decided not necessary to call an ambulance," Reading said. "At 5.40pm, Cech's condition deteriorated and the Chelsea doctor called for assistance which was immediately raised from the stadium's medical control."
Reading and the South Central ambulance service NHS Trust said that at 5.45pm a paramedic examined Cech and called an ambulance which arrived at 5.52pm. By 6.04pm Cech was in the lift and seven minutes later he was in hospital. Reading pointed out that Chelsea had an option to take him around the pitch - Carlo Cudicini was taken by that route later in the day.
Mourinho also refused to back down in his criticism of Hunt. "I wouldn't change a single word from my interview after the game," he said. "I would rather change them for stronger words but I don't want to do it. I want to forget about it."
Later he said that he had read comments by Arsène Wenger, Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson but that he had not changed his mind that Hunt was to blame. "I don't need other people's opinion to make sure of my judgement. Every time I see the incident the more sure I am about it."
John Terry said the players taken to visit Cech on Monday were shocked at condition of the goalkeeper, who had to take off an oxygen mask to speak. "It was a shocking experience and he had a lot of tubes coming out of him," Terry said. "But he had a conversation with the lads and he is doing well."
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