In Depth

Mourinho takes aim at Le Saux over Chelsea Tel Aviv trip

Was manager's swipe at former Blues star a reaction to criticism over the Eva Carneiro affair?

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Even in times of crisis Jose Mourinho's gift for confrontation remains undimmed. Ahead of his side's game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Chelsea boss took aim at former Blues star Graeme Le Saux.

The Blues manager managed to direct a barb at the ex-England player while praising his players' willingness to travel to Israel despite security concerns in the country.

Le Saux was one of six Chelsea players who chose to stay at home rather than play in Israel in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and Mourinho was at pains to remind him of the fact.

The Chelsea manager admitted that a trip to Tel Aviv was "not the same" as a trip to Stoke or Newcastle, particularly in the light of the terrorist attacks in Paris and continuing unrest in Israel. But he added: "I didn't have a single problem within the squad. I didn't have a Graeme Le Saux. I had everybody without fears, just wanting to come. I even had a player whose wife is going to have a baby either tomorrow or the next day, but he's here, focusing on what he can do for us.

"I got from them the sense of responsibility and of course everybody is here. Nobody even tried not to go."

The reason Mourinho chose to mention Le Saux was not hard to fathom, according to The Times, which says it was "apparent payback for the defender's column in The Times in which he was highly critical of the manager's treatment of Eva Carneiro, the former club doctor".

Le Saux had claimed that the unsightly spat between manager and club doctor could deter women from becoming involved in football and could set the sport back 30 years.

Marcel Desailly, Emmanuel Petit, William Gallas, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Albert Ferrer were the other players who elected not to travel to the game in Israel, recalls the Daily Telegraph. It adds: "The decision of Le Saux and co not to travel to Israel in 2001 opened opportunities for a host of youngsters, including John Terry."

Mourinho has faced criticism this term for not giving his youngsters, including prospects like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, enough game time.

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