Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Jose Mourinho's young boys at Chelsea have not hatched into a dominating team just yet. But don't hen-peck Mourinho just yet - it's early days still, after all. Ian Walton / Getty Images
Jose Mourinho's young boys at Chelsea have not hatched into a dominating team just yet. But don't hen-peck Mourinho just yet - it's early days still, after all. Ian Walton / Getty Images
British and Irish Lions rugby player Manu Tuilagi (third from the right) gestures behind the head of British Prime Minister David Cameron during a photocall outside 10 Downing Street in London, on September 16. While many are outraged, Will Batchelor asks 'what's up doc?' with all the controversy. Chris Harris / AFP
British and Irish Lions rugby player Manu Tuilagi (third from the right) gestures behind the head of British Prime Minister David Cameron during a photocall outside 10 Downing Street in London, on September 16. While many are outraged, Will Batchelor asks 'what's up doc?' with all the controversy. Chris Harris / AFP

With apologies to Humpty, you have to break a few eggs to make a Chelsea

Jose Mourinho is becoming so obsessed with eggs that we may soon have to call him “The Speckled One”. Or perhaps “Jose Meringue-ho”.

“I have beautiful young eggs. Eggs that need a mum, or in this case a dad, to keep them warm during the winter. When the weather changes, the sun rises, you break the eggs and they are ready for life at the top level.” – Jose Mourinho, speaking this week about his young Chelsea FC players.

Is Jose Mourinho, who apparently likes to hatch more than plots, angling for a new nickname?

The man is becoming so obsessed with eggs that we may soon have to call him “The Speckled One”. Or perhaps “Jose Meringue-ho”.

This is the second time he has compared his players to eggs. The first was six years ago, towards the end of his previous spell at Chelsea.

“When the Class 1 eggs are in Waitrose [the upmarket British supermarket chain] and you cannot go there,” he said, “you have a problem.” Two days later, the yolk was on him as he was shown the egg-sit door.

Then Inter Milan shelled out for his services and he won them the European Coop.

Two references to eggs in six years may not sound like an obsession but it is two more than most football managers summon in their careers.

Apart from those who work as television pundits and comment that any player who seems even remotely sluggish during the Easter Monday fixtures has “obviously had too many chocolate eggs”.

But that is, one assumes, more a matter of contractual obligation than personal choice.

For a man who is rumoured to give a lot of thought to what he says, Meringue-ho seems remarkably ignorant about the hatching process.

I’d always assumed eggs were self-hatching but am willing to be put right. If he could tell me which creature waits for a sunny day before merrily hammering open its own eggs, I’ll be happy to publish a correction.

(Don’t hold your breath on this. Meringue-ho, remember, is the man who said of a veteran Benfica coach: “This could be the story of a donkey who worked for 30 years but never became a horse.” Again, I’d argue that this statement betrays a woeful ignorance of animal husbandry. Donkeys, regardless of how hard they work, do not metamorphose into horses.)

I mention this not to be a pedant – well, not solely – but also to question his credentials as a mother hen. Yes, his nest-feathering skills are second to none but let’s take a look at how his previous Chelsea “eggs” fared after his careful incubation.

Adrian Mutu: Cracked.

Arjen Robben: Poached (by Real Madrid).

Andriy Shevchenko: Flat pancake.

Michael Ballack: Left on shelf, went rotten.

Indeed, it was mainly the fully fledged chicks already pecking around Stamford Bridge when Mourinho arrived who went on to achieve greatness.

It was John Terry who grew up to become the proud, strutting and undisputed cock of the club. It was Frank Lampard who has now lain so many golden eggs that the club cannot bear to throw him in the pot. Even the free-ranging Joe Cole went on to become a little Red rooster (and is now a little Claret and Blue rooster).

So, a word of warning to Mourinho’s young players.

Yes, you have a charismatic and undoubtedly gifted man as your coach.

Some of you will thrive under him but success is not guaranteed. Many of you will be let go to supposedly inferior teams in lower leagues. Who knows, you might even end up, en masse, at the meagre Swiss outfit that turned you over on Wednesday night.

A phenomenon that the eggstroverted Meringue-ho might describe as “putting all my eggs in one Basel kit”.

*

*

SAY, ‘WHAT’S UP DOC?’ OVER ALL THIS FUSS

*

Rugby union star Manu Tuilagi sparked controversy this week when he made a “bunny ears” gesture behind the head of David Cameron, the British prime minister, during a photo call to celebrate the British and Irish Lions’ victorious tour of Australia.

The juvenile prank led to a predictable avalanche of media hand-wringing about cosseted professional athletes setting bad examples to impressionable young fans.

The usual old ground was raked over – including the notoriously boorish behaviour of some England cricketers in the prime minister’s garden after the 2005 Ashes victory.

But aren’t we looking at this “problem” the wrong way?

The issue here is not the childish behaviour of sportsmen, which was ever thus, but the grey area in which the politicians position themselves.

If a political leader wishes to soak up the reflected glory of a successful team, they must become truly part of that team.

Never mind the awkward “grip-and-grin” photo call, held weeks after the triumph at some ghastly, out-of-context garden party.

They should get themselves on the pitch – preferably in full kit, a la John Terry – as soon as the final whistle goes.

That way, they still get their glory but any pranks by “teammates” (which, remember, is how they express affection) are simply taken in the giddy spirit of the occasion.

Never mind bunny ears. If Mr Cameron had been on that pitch in Sydney, he could have been the first world leader to receive a televised Gatorade shower, pile-on and Vuvuzela blast down the lug hole – and still emerged with his dignity intact.

sports@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Retreat at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa will screen IPL games on request. Lee Hoagland / The National

Top five places to catch an IPL game in the UAE

Enjoy all the 20/20 cricket action at a sports lounge near you – whether in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain or Dubai

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 When this 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on June 17, it is expected to attract a world record bid for a single stamp of up to $20 million (Dh73.4m). Courtesy Sotheby’s

Rare 1856 stamp up for auction at Sotheby’s

This is one of the world’s rarest stamps and when it goes up for auction in June it should fetch $20million. Its history since it was issued in 1856 is fascinating – and includes one murderous chapter, as Jonathan Gornall reports

 An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi. Hoang Dinh Nam / AFP

How Flappy Bird made app developer $50,000 a day

The game propelled the unknown Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen to rock-star status.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Fans braved long queues and early morning hassles to buy IPL tickets in person rather than buy them online, such has been the enthusiasm for the tournament. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Love it, hate it but IPL is too big to be ignored

The tournament steamrolls its way through life perennially from the throes of extinction to the prospect of expansion; alive one moment through its on-field spectacle, dying the next because of another off-field wrangle.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National