Jose Mourinho under fire for criticizing Chelsea medical staff
LONDON (AP) — After only one weekend of the English Premier League season, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is in familiar territory: Embroiled in an irrational dispute and his conduct being denounced.
The unexpected target of Mourinho's ire is the club doctor, whose misdeed appears to be her eagerness to race onto the field to treat an apparently injured Chelsea player.
Eva Carneiro is set to lose her match-day role on the Chelsea bench after Mourinho publicly criticized the actions of his medical staff following the opening-day draw with Swansea.
In stoppage time, with Chelsea already down to 10 men after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off, Eden Hazard was brought down at Stamford Bridge.
The immediate reaction from Carneiro and physiotherapist Jon Fearn was to leave the bench to treat Hazard. The protocol — designed to limit time-wasting by teams — required the winger to leave the field for a short time, temporarily leaving Chelsea with only nine players as the Premier League champions chased a winner.
"I was unhappy with my medical staff. They were impulsive and naive," Mourinho said after the game. "Whether you are a kit man, doctor or secretary on the bench you have to understand the game.
"You have to know you have one player less and to assist a player you must be sure he has a serious problem. I was sure Eden did not have a serious problem. He had a knock. He was tired."
But if a player appears injured it is the duty of the team's medical professionals to immediately take control — not the coach. At that point, Britain's Football Medical Association stressed Wednesday, players become patients of doctors and factors "such as the stage and state of the game cannot be part of their consideration at such time."
In a statement, FMA chief executive Eamonn Salmon said players must be treated "without prejudice to the interests of anyone else, including the club employing them."
Carneiro and Fearn "acted with integrity and professionalism at all times, fully cognizant of the rules of the game and in full accordance with that duty of care to their patient," Salmon said.
Amid public scrutiny of Mourinho's decision to blame the setback at the start of Chelsea's title defense on his medical staff, Carneiro published a rare social media posting on Sunday.
"I would like to thank the general public for their overwhelming support," Carneiro, who previously worked for the British Olympic Medical Institute and UK Athletics, wrote on her verified Facebook account. "Really very much appreciated."
At a club which frowns on back-room staff beyond Mourinho and assistant coach Steve Holland speaking publicly, such a public comment will not have gone down well — particularly as it appeared to expose friction within the club.
Now it is widely reported that Carneiro's responsibilities will be downgraded with the Gibraltar-born medic losing her role around matches and training sessions.
Chelsea's public comment that "we don't comment on internal staffing matters" is only likely to increase attention on Mourinho's news conference ahead of Sunday's match against Manchester City.
It's a far cry from the tranquil end to last season when Chelsea strolled to the title.
According to former Liverpool medical chief Peter Brukner, Mourinho's treatment of his medics has been "appalling."
"They were doing their job and they've been criticized very publicly," Brukner said on Talk Sport radio.
"The medical staff deserve a public apology, and I'm very disappointed the club hasn't come out and done something to support them."
Mourinho finding a distraction or a scapegoat is nothing new. Usually, though, the targets to deflect from his team's shortcomings are referees or the media.
By picking a row with a Chelsea colleague, Mourinho has revived memories of the fall-out with owner Roman Abramovich which led to his first period in charge ending in 2007.
That came a month into his third season in charge — a milestone Mourinho is just weeks away from reaching in his second spell in the west London club's dugout.
Given Mourinho only signed a new four-year contract last week, his future seems secure. But the doctor dispute in the opening days of the season shows that the self-proclaimed "Special One" is doing little to live up to his pledge on returning to Chelsea in 2013 to be the "Happy One."