Jose Mourinho flipped out when physiotherapist Jon Fearn and first team doctor/assistant medical director Eva Carneiro ran onto the pitch late in Chelsea’s 2–2 home draw with Swansea in their season opener to treat Eden Hazard. Mourinho thought they were impulsively costing the team another player as Chelsea desperately sought a winning goal despite playing with 10 men, since Hazard would have to leave the pitch to be treated once they emerged.
After the final whistle, he called them out in front of the press.
“I was unhappy with my medical staff. They were impulsive and naive,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“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.”
This was all it took for every major media outlet covering the story to turn the matter into a competition to see who could publish the most pictures of Dr. Carneiro (including holiday snaps, her ice bucket challenge video, and one of her eating a cupcake…because that’s all very relevant). It should be noted, however, that she had not changed her name to “Medical Staff” at any point in her life.
Carneiro had long been the obsession of football fans on social media, whose hormone befuddled minds have been consistently overwhelmed by the concept of an attractive woman serving as the doctor for a Premier League club. This was the legitimate media’s chance to finally tap into this. She was the innocent victim of Mourinho’s tyranny. Jon Fearn, who was the first to run onto the pitch and also exists, as well as Paco Boisca, Chelsea’s medical director, were somehow excluded from most discussion of the situation.
With the media focus squarely on portraying her as the sole victim, Carneiro posted a brief message on Facebook thanking the general public for their support. Though she didn’t clarify whether she meant support against Mourinho or the press.
As the story chugged through the week, gaining steam with every click, Mourinho was proven wrong in his criticism as it was revealed that the referee had summoned Chelsea’s medical team onto the pitch to treat Hazard, making their actions compulsory. This only made subsequent reports of Carneiro being sacked from matchday duties and banished from the dressing room more outrage inducing.
Despite the constant updates and reports of possible legal action from Carneiro, Mourinho and Chelsea remained silent until his regular Friday press conference. He said he wouldn’t answer questions about the controversy, but did issue a statement, which effectively deflated much of the week’s bluster and gave the club’s medical director his first namecheck of the week.
“First of all I want to say I have a fantastic medical department with a top leader, Dr Paco Biosca,” began Mourinho, “and with more than a dozen professionals between doctors, physios, masseurs and specialists in different areas. I have a very good relationship with them.
“As they tell me all the time they were never praised so much as they were by me in the last couple of years. Normally when things go well managers keep it for themselves, and when they have problems with injuries is when they speak about the medical department.
“As they also told me yesterday, we had disagreements during this period, we need disagreements to improve, we work together and we improve together. That’s the way we do things. I want to make this very, very clear.
“For some people the bench is very important, and I understand for you it’s also very important, but for other people it’s not important. For other people the most important thing is not what people think you do, it’s what you do.
“The bench is my responsibility, yes,” continued our manager. “It’s my decision, nobody else’s decision. Every week I face a decision about the bench. With 25 players, we have 11 on the pitch, seven on the bench, so seven are not even on the bench. I have to choose. I have seven assistants, only four can go on the bench. I have to choose three of them. We have four kitmen, only one goes on the bench, three stay out.
“With the medical department, only two go on the bench, and we are more than a dozen. It’s important to be on the bench for some, but for others it’s more important what their contribution is behind the scenes, and what they do for the good of the team.
“Jon Fearn and Dr Carneiro will not be on the bench, but it doesn’t mean Sunday is the rest of our season or the rest of our careers. They will not be on the bench on Sunday, that’s clear, that’s my decision, that’s my responsibility, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be in the future.”
So, no one is getting sacked or sued, but Fearn and Carneiro won’t be on the bench for a week, which could be just as much about the public scrutiny this matter has received as it is about Mourinho’s anger.
In the end, this was a dumb thing that many people should have handled better. Mourinho shouldn’t have said what he did, Chelsea should have resolved it before it ran on all week, and the press shouldn’t have been so thirsty.
And that was the first week of the season.