The Warm-Up: Jose Mourinho wins a war of words, but not a game

The Warm-Up: Mourinho wins a war of words, but not a game

14/03/2017 at 09:13Updated 14/03/2017 at 09:32

Plus: 'disgraceful' scenes in Brazil, and some silly Chelsea fans...


Chelsea beat Manchester United in another competition

Not content with dancing off into the sunset with the league title, using broadly the players Jose Mourinho had, Antonio Conte has now knocked his predecessor out of the FA Cup. Chelsea’s 1-0 quarter-final win over Manchester United on Monday evening thanks to a strike from the miraculous N’Golo Kante saw them reach the semi-final, where they will play Tottenham, and there was plenty to unpick from the game.

For a start, Ander Herrera was sent off in the first half, seemingly after Michael Oliver warned the United players that them taking it in turns to foul Eden Hazard wasn’t going to fly. Which raises a couple of questions: in isolation, did Herrera deserve to get sent off? Should the individual be punished for the broader crimes of the collective? Does that even matter if something annoys Mourinho?

Further annoying Mourinho – and in this case perfectly correctly – were the small group of Chelsea fans who rather remarkably accused him of being a ‘Judas’. The Warm-Up is not especially hot on biblical references, but we can tell you that Judas wasn’t sacked twice by the same club before having the temerity to get another job.

" Until the moment Chelsea have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’m the No1. When they have somebody who wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’ll be No2. For this moment, ‘Judas’ is No1."

Well played, Jose. Although perhaps it says something about Mourinho’s current status that he can still win a war of words, but not an actual football game.

Tottenham next up in the semi-final

So, from a neutral perspective, who do we want in the FA Cup final? For the semis, Chelsea were drawn against Tottenham and Arsenal will play Manchester City.

A double would obviously provide an even more emphatic underlining of just how good Conte has been this season, but such a thing doesn’t have the cache it once did. Arsenal being there solves nothing: if they win then it proves little, since Arsene Wenger has managed it a couple of times in the last few years and still he finds himself in this current situation. If they lose in the final, that’s almost too sad for anyone to bear.

By some way the most interesting final would be Tottenham against Manchester City. For Spurs, some sort of tangible reward for their excellent progress, plus if they get to the final, the way things are shaping up we’ll have a good old fashioned ‘will he be fit in time’ flap about Harry Kane. For City, that will represent something to show from this season in which the jury is most certainly out, and it seems like a more modern, interesting kind of rivalry.

Good. So that’s settled then. City v Spurs in the final, please.

Arsene Wenger looks on

Arsene Wenger looks on Reuters

Another manager for Derby

We dip into the Championship now to bring you the news that Derby County have appointed Gary Rowett as their new manager. A team from the second tier bringing in a new manager after some adverse results might not usually be big news, but this is significant because of the sheer scale of change at Derby and indeed the division.

Gary Rowett is the early favourite to replace Steve McClaren as boss of Derby

Gary Rowett is the early favourite to replace Steve McClaren as boss of DerbyPA Sport

Rowett replaces Steve McClaren, who in turn replaced Nigel Pearson only in October this year. McClaren himself of course returned to Derby after being sacked 17 months previously, in which time Derby had got through another two managers. In the 18 or so months Derby owner Mel Morris has been in place, he has now sacked four managers.

But that’s sort of the way of things with managers in the Championship. Of the 24 teams in the division, only 11 still have the same boss that ended last season. Derby and Wigan have made two changes this season, and if reports that Nottingham Forest are set to appoint Mark Warburton as their boss are true, they’ll join that club too. Forest and Derby face each other at the weekend at the City Ground, and if Warburton is appointed before that then between them the two teams will have changed managers no fewer than eight times since the corresponding fixture last season.


Scenes nobody* likes to see


Strap in for this one. This game, between Gama and Brasiliense, had everything you want in a football match. If everything you want is fights, impromptu tug-of-wars between fans and general chaos. And surely that is what everyone wants. There’s so much to enjoy in this, but the Warm-Up’s favourite part is the chap wearing the red bib at about 30 seconds in who launches himself feet first at someone, then runs away. The game had been bubbling for a little while, and it eventually had to be abandoned with the score at 1-1. Really, the only way the whole thing could be improved is with some Benny Hill music…


Hero: N’Golo Kante

If you watched any football last season, you’ll already know that N’Golo Kante is pretty good. But did any of us quite realise he was this good? The pocket wonder of the Chelsea midfield adding goalscoring to his repertoire against United, winning them the game in the literal sense, as opposed to the slightly less obvious manner he’s probably won many games in the past. There are a couple of things to note though: firstly, stop comparing him to Claude Makelele. Other than being short, French Chelsea midfielders, they’re completely different players. Also, please, please, please find a way to praise Kante without in the next breath having a swing at Paul Pogba. Yes, we know one has been better than the other. Yes, we know one cost more than the other. Yes, we know it’s funny when hubris is pricked. But just stop it, please. Cheers.

Hazard Kanté et Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Hazard Kanté et Azpilicueta (Chelsea)AFP

Zero: Those Chelsea fans

Come on, guys. Seriously? We know football’s first instinct is parochialism, to have a go at Them, whoever They may be, but Mourinho won the league title with you twice, then came back a few years later and did it again. You’re starting to rival Arsenal fans in the silliness stakes. And nobody wants that.


Remember when Arsenal had a little gumption? It was on this day in 1998 that they really set themselves on track for Arsene Wenger’s first league title with the club, by beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford thanks to a Marc Overmars goal. Having trailed United by about a gazillion points at one stage, this victory put them six back with three games in hand, a gap they gobbled up with time to spare. And this chap had quite the day.


"If you know anything about Leyton Orient’s owner, the Italian waste-management millionaire Francesco Becchetti, his tenure of London’s second-oldest club has probably been the source of one or two laughs during the past few years — in the sense that laughter is sometimes the only alternative to crying."


Craig Shakespeare: Champions League manager. Seems a bit weird, but it’s happening. Will the new Leicester City manager’s bump after taking over from Claudio Ranieri extend to clawing their way back from a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla this evening? Elsewhere, Porto will have to go some to overhaul Juventus, who hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg, and if you prefer something a little closer to home then there are plenty of Championship, League One and League Two matches to keep you amused, including AFC Wimbledon facing the ghosts of their past, MK Dons.

Tomorrow’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by Alex Chick – not Judas, not Jesus, but one of the other ones. I dunno, Luke? Was he one?