Ref! On Mourinho and Chelsea

The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.


Evening lads. I won’t beat about the bush. I am gasping for a pint. Dave, here’s a 20, would you mind? Lovely, so I can tell the rest of you all about it. Well, I was at the Liberty Stadium for Swansea-Arsenal, and an entertaining game it was too, but that’s not what we want to talk about, is it?

It’s all about Jose Mourinho. What the four asterisks is going on at Chelsea? Exactly, Dave.

It all started with the doctor business, the Carneiro woman – no, really, that’s where all the trouble started. I’ve seen her up close, mate, and let me tell you she is a bit of all right. And I think Mourinho liked that element, the showbiz angle. It was all very Chelsea, wasn’t it? Playboys, always have been, right from the 60s with Osgood and Eddie McCreadie’s pink shirt and boozing up and down the King’s Road.

So they get bought by a Russian billionaire and they start winning things and they’ve got a charismatic manager. Then he leaves, but his soul never sets foot outside Stamford Bridge because it knows he’ll be back. And sure enough he does return, but in the meantime they’ve won the Champions League without him, whereas he didn’t manage it first time round

He’s getting older – hear me out, Gary – and he can’t just do a sort of Round Two, plus he’s got some hard decisions to make about David Luiz and Fernando Torres etc, which he does. But now the club’s lacking a bit of glamour, but suddenly, what’s this? A nice looking woman hanging around the pitch on match days. Can’t do any harm, can it?

But somebody with an ego like his can’t have co-stars hogging the limelight, even though, as I mentioned a few week ago, I reckon she had something going with the owner, Roman Abramovich. So Mourinho finds an excuse to get rid of her.

And it’s been all downhill from there, hasn’t it?

Now, someone like Abramovich, he didn’t get where he is today by being nice. It doesn’t just drop into your lap and change your life – just doesn’t happen like that. Okay, Baz, granted there was the time when Johnny Boothroyd’s uncle died and left him the burger van in Clacton – and Johnny never looked back until the heart attack – but that was an exception, a freak occurrence if you like.

The point is, nobody knows what’s going on at Chelsea, but you can bet your life there’s more to it than meets the eye. Half the side is off form at the same time. That is suspicious.

You remember the Ice Bucket Challenge last year? When you did one – and yes, thank you, Dave, my nipples have finally thawed out – you had to nominate somebody else. And Eva Carneiro nominated Branislav Ivanovich. It’s the kind of thing you do to someone you’re fond of, isn’t it? And now Ivanovich has aged 10 years over the summer.

Well, come on, lads. I don’t know what it is, but something’s going on. Abramovich hasn’t sacked him yet, but why not? To make him suffer? I’m the last to want to start rumours, but you’ve got to wonder, haven’t you?


Ref! On Rodgers and Newcastle

The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.


That’s right, lads, I had the privilege of being the ‘man in the middle’ as you put it, at the City of Manchester stadium for City’s demolition of Newcastle. To tell you the truth, when a game is as one-sided as that, the problem is to keep your concentration. If you’re a fair-minded person you want to see a balanced game. You don’t want to see anybody get whipped 6-1, and apart from anything else you worry that you’ve lost count.

Newcastle, I don’t know, they’ve just been left behind, haven’t they? In today’s technological terms they need to shut down and reboot. They’ve tried everything – they even tried Alan Shearer as manager a few years ago, just because the fans think he’s God. They had to appoint him and let him fail so they could move on, but where have they moved on to? I know somebody was bound to give Steve McClaren another chance in England, but that’s the problem with the Geordies, they’re too sentimental.

Only they would have persevered with John Carver as long as they did, purely because he’s an honest-to-goodness local boy, and when they finally saw sense, they give the job to a nice guy who has demonstrated repeatedly that he’s not going to be successful in English football.

And now the poor sod’s got the weirdest haircut in the Premier League, with that little tuft at the front. Used to be a quiff and you can tell he’s still proud of it, but it’s like a bird standing on the beach when the tide’s gone out.

Fair enough, Dave, his follicular problems have nothing to do with his ability as a manager, and he’s endured enough ridicule, but you can’t help noticing, can you?

So who’s next up there in Liverpool? People are talking about Jurgen Klopp, who’s regarded as a bit of a guru, plus we don’t know that much about him, which is always good when you’re speculating.

Sam Allardyce is available but you can’t have that. Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a black and tan. You’ll have to explain to the barman, cos he’s only a nipper. Half a draught Guinness topped up with a bottle of pale ale. And then you can watch while he makes a mess of it – see you in half an hour, mate.

No, I reckon they’re going to go for someone really unlikely. Baseball coach with transferrable skills. Sir Clive Woodward. Nigel Clough. Drew Barrymore. They’re desperate enough, Baz, yes – you’re on the ball tonight, what’s the matter?

Jose Mourinho? Stranger things have happened, but nothing as strange as that. Abramovich probably can’t believe what’s happening, but when he leaves the denial phase he’s going to do something, isn’t he? He’s ruthless – they have to be, shady characters like him.

You know what I reckon? He was having it off with the doctor, Eva Carneiro. Then he got tired of it and told Mourinho to get rid of her.

Like Bill Shankly said, Baz, the only thing that surprises me is that I can be surprised.