LONDON – Even when he decides to keep his mouth firmly shut there is no keeping José Mourinho out of the headlines. The Chelsea manager is up on a misconduct charge form the Football Association and responded by deferring his Friday afternoon pre–match press conference for Saturdays Newcastle match to his assistant Steve Holland. Mourinho faces a possible ban and fine following comments he made about what he feels is a clear campaign against his club related to controversial incidents and decisions surrounding the awarding of penalty shots in recent matches. What appears to have sent the FA over the edge was his tagging as a scandal the booking of Fabregas in the December 28 match at St-Marys. Something Holland did face questions on were the recent reports linking Chelsea with Lionel Messi. He informed the media throng gathered at the clubs training facility they were not at all looking at shifting players out, nor bring any in during the current window. A Chelsea spokesperson informed TSN.ca, As a matter of policy we dont comment on transfer speculation and rumour in the media when asked to comment on the reports which were sparked into life Monday after Messi followed Chelsea FC and a few players on his Instagram account. Coupled with an alleged rift with his manager. The 44-year-old Holland believes a Messi deal by any football club in Europe is impossible. When you look at the numbers being mentioned around the Messi deal, I think its almost an impossible deal for any club working within the restraints of financial fair play. The astronomical numbers bandied around certainly bear out Hollands most rational take. CIES Football Observatory, a Swiss company with a highly regarded football business research group who only yesterday released their 2015 Index on the Worlds Most Valuable Players have placed a €220m [$310m] bounty on Messis head. Then on top of this figure would be the financial commitment towards his salary. Any such five-year deal would nudge it through the half billion threshold. Even the Steinbrenners would baulk at that number if a young Lionel had picked up a baseball bat. Last time of course Messi faced Chelsea was the Second Leg of the 2012 Champions League Semifinal at the Nou Camp which we all know finished in tears for the 2014 Ballon dOr nominee. Missing a second half penalty in that game runs Messis scoreless streak in the competition against the BPL league leaders to seven matches. A significant statistical anomaly when factoring in the Argentine has a phenomenal 75 goals in only 92 appearances to become the highest scoring player through the six decade-plus history of the European Cup. You can be guaranteed the thorough planner that is Mourinho would have used his freed up time Friday afternoon to run a final rule over the Newcastle Presentation he delivered to the Chelsea squad which occurred shortly after Hollands press conference wrapped up. At least Mourinho would not have had to include mention of those now infamous St-James Park ballboys who he directly laid blame on for Chelseas first defeat of the season back in early December. His opposite number that day Alan Pardew is no longer in Mike Ashleys firing range. Those shoes these days are filled by Pardews assistant John Carver, a Geordie man from birth which the desperately underserved Toronto FC supporters know very well. Carver was in the dugout next to Pardew during the corresponding fixture last season which certainly brings back happier Newcastle memories for Mourinho. On the back of an Eden Hazard hat-trick Chelsea won 3-0, a result which pole vaulted Chelsea to the top of the league. That was early February 2014, but as we all know now during the run in the little horse continually slipped up against some rather unfancied horses. That included losing at home to Sunderland, which spelled the end of Mourinhos extraordinary unbeaten home record in the league - a run which stretched back to his first term which began in 2004 and in all totalled 78 matches. Hazard, who continues to impress and improve since joining the SW6 ranks in summer 2012, has certainly charmed his fellow Belgians into following his Chelsea career up close. A significant number of them will be traveling from Brussels for the match. Some of those were early arrivals and certainly added to the atmosphere Friday afternoon in one of the various food and drink emporiums inside the main entrance of Stamford Bridge. Speaking to the traveling support and again adding a cultural flavour to yet another sold out Stamford Bridge Saturday afternoon will be a 3,000 strong Toon Army who will have traveled down from their native northeast, a distance from London which is further than Brussels. Unlike Abramovich, who for obvious reasons is adored by the supporters of the club he owns, his opposite number Mike Ashley is disliked and mocked by most, if not all Newcastle supporters. The mere fact he chose not to move up to the northeast from his northeast London palatial-type home which has more rooms than an average sized hotel did not endear himself to the Geordies. Renowned for his drinking ways Ashley could likely be at Stamford Bridge tomorrow. I wonder if hell dare sit himself inside the Matthew Harding stand, named for the iconic Chelsea director who sadly lost his life when flying home following a Chelsea match away to Bolton in 1996. Harding used to hold court in a local pub before matches. The talk Saturday in those pubs surrounding Stamford Bridge will be dominated by the alarming run of BPL form for Chelsea. That most recently includes a rightful 5-3 drubbing at the hands of a rampant Tottenham and well see if they can address it against a club who are seeking the season double over Mourinho. Noel Butler can be reached at: Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca @TheSoccerNoel Stars Jerseys 2020
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