Jose Mourinho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and lines in the sand

“Ruben was saying he had a pain in his back but what I was feeling was that he only had this pain when Sydney had the ball.  When Chelsea had the ball he was playing very well. But when Sydney had the ball I think he was more impressed by watching [John] Mikel Obi and [Nemanja] Matic work, instead of him working himself. So, with Ruben, it’s one step back in terms of my relationship with him. If he doesn’t know what it means to play for me and Chelsea, it’s one step back.”

There will be those who take issue with Jose Mourinho’s scathing assessment of Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s performance in Australia this morning and there will also be those who query whether it would have been more advisable for the Portuguese to evaluate the nineteen year-old in private rather than through the media.

But it shouldn’t be taken at face-value: Mourinho is treating Loftus-Cheek like an adult and that’s to be applauded.

Too often young players are allowed to develop a level of entitlement and it would have been easy for Loftus-Cheek, given his recent first-team debut and the accolades it provoked, to ease into a comfort zone over the Summer.

This is Mourinho reminding him that he hasn’t yet made it. 

A first Premier League appearance is a nice moment for any young player, but frequently in the past that’s been allowed to represent too much. There’s a danger to that, especially when a player possesses as much talent as Loftus-Cheek obviously does.

It’s a cliche, of course, to talk of keeping a youngster’s ‘feet on the ground’, but it’s still something that - perhaps - English football struggles to do.  We are all aware of how quickly homegrown potential is embraced and over-emphasised by the media, but club managers in this country probably don’t do enough to combat that and very few seem willing to adopt the kind of stance that Mourinho has done today.

It’s healthy and, actually, Ruben Loftus-Cheek should take it as an enormous compliment.  If he wasn’t a capable player and Mourinho didn’t see a first-team role in his future, then the Portuguese wouldn’t have devoted any media time to him.  If he was just another academy player, one who stood no chance of graduating at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho wouldn’t bother with this sort of covert motivation.

In the past, Eden Hazard has been on the receiving end of something very similar.  When he returned to England in 2013, Mourinho made a point of criticising the Belgian’s work-rate and of doing so in as public a forum as possible.  Hazard responded and, alongside his obvious offensive merits, he has become a vastly improved player without the ball.  Mourinho does this, it’s just his way of shaping talent to suit his own purposes; it’s a badge of honour for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and a moment he is never likely to forget.

He’s a big boy now and he’s got big boy talent - so there’s nothing wrong with holding him to a standard that he’s capable of achieving.

It’s good management.

Follow @SebSB

For uMAXit: Farewell to the evergreen Frank Lampard, football’s superstar Everyman


1 Comment on "Jose Mourinho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and lines in the sand"

  1. Chelsea Alan | Jun 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm |

    Jose is spot on and he knows that it depends on how RLC responds. RLC should apologize to his Manager, team mates and the fans for thinking he is Johnny big bollocks after his recent rise to fame in the media. This attitude needs stamping out immediately otherwise the lad will ruin what should be a glittering career at the very top. I personally thing the lad will respond in a positive manner which is what Jose is banking on. If he doesn’t he will be shipped out of Chelsea before that start of next season as Jose will not put up with show boaters not prepared to do the ugly, boring stuff. Jose will be upset and annoyed that the lad has let himself down so badly and will be looking for that immediate and positive response which is totally on the money.

Leave a Reply