Source Pravda.Ru

Chelsea's onfield glory tarnished by Mourinho, backroom team

Chelsea has reached the semifinals of the Champions League and is almost assured of winning its first league title in 50 years.

Instead of glowing with pride, however, the Blues are under fire for an arrogant attitude toward European soccer's governing body, accused of trying to poach one of Arsenal's stars and could be eclipsing Manchester United as the most hated team in English soccer.

Jose Mourinho's team reached the last four of the Champions League despite losing at Bayern Munich 3-2 on Tuesday. The English leaders won the first leg 4-2 and advanced 6-5 on aggregate.

Despite the impressive performances of Mourinho's players on the field, the eccentric behavior of Chelsea's coaches and administrators has taken away much of the glory.

The manager and his coaching team have been accused in the media of taunting UEFA after its decision to ban him from the bench for the Champions League quarterfinals against Bayern.

UEFA suspended Mourinho for accusing FC Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard of colluding with referee Anders Frisk during the first half their Champions League second round game at the Camp Nou.

Mourinho remains convinced he was right and, in a bizarre series of events at both news conferences, Chelsea has angered UEFA and puzzled the media with strange behavior.

With Mourinho banished from the bench, there was speculation that he was breaking UEFA rules by talking to his backup coaches by phone during the first leg victory over Bayern. The coaches swapped pieces of paper and one of them appeared to be fiddling with something under his woolen hat near his ear.

Chelsea denied doing anything wrong. But the club's decision to send just a fitness coach to a major pre-game news conference along with a player who has seen just two minutes of action all season was interpreted by the media as arrogance and a swipe at UEFA.

"It is not appropriate," said match delegate Wolfgang Eichler, who will be UEFA's chief press officer for the 2008 European Championship in Austria and Switzerland.

"The situation is very tense between UEFA and Mourinho. Chelsea did not even bother telling us who they intended putting up (for the interview). This is not ideal and I will have to report this to UEFA."

Mourinho's behavior at the return leg in Munich also made headlines.

He took his seat inside the Olympic stadium but, unhappy at his apparent lack of privacy with TV cameras focusing on him, walked out and took a taxi back to the team's hotel.

Chelsea spokesman Simon Greenberg said he hoped that UEFA would now concentrate on Chelsea's performances on the field.

"I think everybody at Chelsea feels we want to get back to talking about football and the brilliant performance of the team to get to the Champions League semifinals," he said Wednesday. "Despite one or two issues last night, we want to put the all of the matters relating to Jose's ban behind us. I am sure UEFA will want to do the same."

The club's behavior at home, however, has also made headlines for the wrong reasons.

Chelsea already faces charges for allegedly trying to lure England defender Ashley Cole away from Arsenal while under contract, and the Premier League on Wednesday announced the names of the three-man disciplinary committee that will hear the case in the next few weeks.

Cole and his agent met Mourinho and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon at a hotel in London and the club has been charged with making an illegal approach to the player.

Meanwhile, the Blues could face a similar investigation over a meeting Kenyon had with Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and his agent at a restaurant in London.

Chelsea issued a statement strongly denying any impropriety and said the meeting was purely accidental with Ferdinand going to the restaurant to pick up some paperwork from his agent.

But the story will add weight to suggestions that Mourinho's team, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, tends to play by its own set of rules and doesn't adhere to the regulations laid down by the Premier League, the Football Association and UEFA.

ROBERT MILLWARD, AP Soccer Writer

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