Gathering clouds for Jose would go down a storm for England

Last updated at 22:10 08 September 2007

Arsene Wenger and Jose

Mourinho have been at a European

coaches' conference in Geneva, Sir

Alex Ferguson in Glasgow

entertaining a receptive, supportive

theatre audience to anecdotes and

opinions. This club management lark is a

doddle compared with trying to find 11 fit

players for the national team. No wonder they

do not fancy Steve McClaren's job.

Next weekend, though, it will be back to the

Premier League and the pressure of satisfying

existing or potential billionaire owners.

And how strange that Wenger's stock

currently will be highest of the three when he

is the one without a trophy these past two


Indeed, the Arsenal manager can bask in his

new contract and let ownership matters

unfold off the field at the Emirates Stadium

safe in the knowledge that no matter who

comes, goes or stays in the offices and

boardroom, his services will still be required,

so popular is he and so

central to future strategy.

Wenger will take his

side to Tottenham, where

Martin Jol is another

under strain, for the

north London derby with

nothing to disturb his


For Mourinho, it is less


The international break

may have come at a good

time for him, diverting

attention after the 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa,

but you sense that the truce brokered at

Stamford Bridge between manager and

Roman Abramovich at the end of last season

is an uneasy one.

None outside the inner sanctum can be sure

of the terms of the treaty but it does seem that

Mourinho accepted some new financial

restrictions and the owner's desire for more

exciting football, along with the introduction

of Avram Grant as a technical director to sit

behind him in the dug-out as "observer", while

Abramovich allowed Mourinho to operate

unfettered in team selection.

But while the Russian may have agreed to

back Mourinho's judgement, he cannot surely

have been happy with Michael Ballack being

omitted from Chelsea's Champions League


The club insist it is down to injury but the

player himself is baffled and expects to be fit

in a few weeks.

Then there is Mourinho's snubbing of

Andriy Shevchenko. The sight of Abramovich

departing as Villa's second goal went in last

Sunday — his £31 million Ukrainian signing

not even on the substitutes' bench — did not

bode well.

On top, while Mourinho may have grown

frustrated at Arjen Robben's record of

injuries, his replacement Florent Malouda

scarcely brings the same skills and thrills for

fans as the Dutchman, despite offering more reliability, in line with types such as Michael

Essien and John Obi Mikel that the manager


Thus far this season we have heard little

from the "more mellow" Mourinho but you

sense the dam could burst any week now.

Next Saturday, tricky Blackburn Rovers are

the visitors to Stamford Bridge, to be followed

on Sunday week by a huge contest against

Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Should Chelsea still be struggling to find

their rhythm — and despite taking 10 points

from their first four games they have been

reaching for form — we could return to the

internal rumblings that have periodically

beset the club over the last year.

Mourinho could be forgiven if he feels a bit

envious in Wenger's company or as he looks

on at Ferguson. The Portuguese delivered two

titles — eclipsing them both — when allowed

to do it his way, but lost out when it appeared

his position was undermined last season, his

warnings about the need for new signings in

January going unheeded.

Now he sees

Wenger ever more feted when he himself has

delivered the silver and Ferguson free of any

interference or criticism despite Manchester

United's patchy start and absence hitherto of


Many are surprised to see Mourinho still in

situ, since he has never before stayed at a club

for a third year, let alone a fourth. And if there

is any talk of his position being under threat,

there is potential for him to walk out if he

feels unloved.

If that should happen, there could just be

another job in this country available this

autumn. Rather than this one having just a

couple of weeks off every few months, it

involves having a couple of weeks on every

few months.

And right now, England would swap a bit of

entertainment for the winning Mourinho


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