In Depth

Mourinho doctor row: a case of Chelsea third-season syndrome

Club doctor Eva Carneiro thrown off the Chelsea bench after being criticised for treating Eden Hazard on the pitch

Less than a week into the season and the Jose Mourinho show is in full swing after the Chelsea manager was cast as the villain in a medical drama as outlandish as anything dreamt up by Casualty – and which could also have an influence on Mourinho's long-term prospects at Stamford Bridge.

The bizarre row blew up in the wake of Chelsea's 2-2 draw with Swansea on Saturday, when the Portuguese rounded on first team doctor Eva Carneiro, calling her and other medical staff "naive" for running onto the pitch to treat Eden Hazard during the closing stages of the game.

Mourinho justified his comments by explaining that their intervention temporarily reduced Chelsea to nine men. Under Premier League rules players who require treatment must leave the field of play, meaning that Hazard was taken out of the game. The Blues were already a man short after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off.

Mourinho's comments could be seen as typical piece of bluster from a manager who routinely stirs up controversy in order to deflect attention away from his team's shortcomings. However, things began to escalate when Carneiro posted a message on Facebook thanking "the general public for their overwhelming support" after her public dressing down.

That did not do her any favours and it appears that she has now lost her place on the Chelsea bench after Mourinho instigated a "backroom shake-up", reports the Daily Telegraph.

"It is understood that while Carneiro will remain Chelsea's first-team doctor, she will not attend training sessions, games or enter the hotel. As things stand, she is not expected to be on the bench for Sunday’s trip to Manchester City," says the paper, which suggests the move will not earn Mourinho any friends at Stamford Bridge.

"Carneiro is highly respected for her work by Chelsea players, who were genuinely shocked to find out her working regime will change," says the paper. "There is also a feeling that she did little wrong on Saturday, with Hazard reacting as if he was badly injured."

It remains to be seen whether Carneiro accepts her new role, and if things turn nasty, she may have a case, suggests The Independent.

"Footage shows that in the moments before the Chelsea medical team entered the field of play the referee [Michael] Oliver twice turned to the bench after Hazard went down, following a challenge from Gylfi Sigurdsson, and signalled for the pair to come on. If Carneiro was to take her case further then Oliver's intervention in the sequence of events would be a powerful piece of evidence on her behalf."

Had she ignored the referee's call she would have been in breach of General Medical Council guidelines.

"It sounded, at the time, as though Mourinho was using a tactic to divert attention away from a disappointing result, but his frustration at the club's doctors has been building, despite the squad's injury record being generally excellent last season," says The Guardian. "Mourinho said on several occasions over the summer the medical staff had to improve, a sentiment that was motivated, perhaps, by his annoyance at the hamstring problems that have affected Diego Costa."

But there is "little doubt she has the sympathy of the public on her side" in the latest row, says the paper.

Are the cracks in Mourinho's regime starting to appear?

Mourinho is now in his third season at Chelsea, and history shows that he rarely lasts longer than three seasons at a club. He left Porto in 2004 after two seasons, his first stint at Stamford Bridge lasted just over three years, although his relationship with Roman Abramovich began to sour during his third campaign in charge. He walked out on Inter Milan after two seasons to coach Real Madrid, but he left the Spanish capital under a cloud after two seasons of success were followed by a third campaign marred by feuds with the media, other clubs and divisions in the dressing room.

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