Jose Mourinho said a funny thing last week. Asked to defend his 23 million pound acquisition of Michael Essien from Lyon, he said paying that kind of money was simply the new reality of the game. Unusually for a braggart as shameless as the self-styled “special one,” he neglected to mention his own part in bringing about this near reality of hyperinflated transfer values. The prime example, for me, has been Ricardo Carvalho, a very good center back, to be sure — in fact, he has been the subject of a 6 million pound offer by Real Madrid when Mourinho swooped for him. For some reason, Mourinho paid 20 million pounds for Carvalho – an amount so absurd I couldn’t help wondering whether it was some form of payback to his old club, Porto (to whom the fee was paid) or some ingenious money-laundering scheme by Roman Abramovich.
Funnier still was the fact that Carvalho, who — justifiably you’d think, given his price tag — wondered out loud why he was being left on the bench when fully fit, prompted Mourinho to publicly dress him down (“kill him” in the words of the special one), drop him from the squad altogether but also to warn that he wouldn’t be allowed to move to another club. Welcome to the Hotel California. Hardly surprising, Chelsea winger Arjen Robben promptly retracted similar comments about his own situation.
Something tells me, though, that these are signs of many more troubles to come in West Landon’s galacticos. Not only does he not have room in a fully-fit squad for too many players too good to be left on the bench (think Sean Wright Phillips vs. Robben; Carvalho vs. Gallas; Drogba vs. Crespo; Del Horno vs. Bridge; Gudjonsen vs. Essien or Lampard; etc.) but he has also drummed into them that, like their boss, they are the best in the world. Some have clearly started to believe that, which is where the special one’s troubles start this year.