One of the attributes legendary football boss Sir Alex Ferguson was most credited for during his 26-year tenure at Manchester United, aside from his ability to continually stay one step ahead with the changing nature of modern formations and tactics, was his moxie, intuition and wisdom when it came to man-management.
At Old Trafford, Ferguson lived by the creed that not one of his players would ever become bigger than the club and, if the day ever arrived where they thought that to be true, then that same day would spell the end of their career at the M16 outfit.
Any player would also have problems if they ever attempted to dictate what days off they should have, what time training should start, what exercises and drills they should engage in during morning and/or afternoon sessions and what the discipline should be.
Ferguson always retained control. Of the club culture, of his playing staff and of attitude. He was also a master of playing different roles… he could be an educator, a coach, a paternal figure, a nurturer, a good cop and/or a bad cop.
In Jose Mourinho's second spell at Chelsea, The Special One is reminding British football audiences precisely why he deserves his self-claimed moniker. In a matter of months he has fulfilled a number of the aforementioned roles in order to get the most out of his squad.
When it came to Juan Mata, he had no issue playing a bad cop to the media and, to a lesser extent, to the club's own fans as he was implored to regularly select the skilful playmaker who had won the club's player of the year award for two consecutive seasons.
Finally, he gave a reason… he wanted Mata to work harder. In a Premier League built on the foundations of stamina, endurance, physicality and work-rate, his intention was to develop Mata into an even greater athlete. The message was sent and, thus far, the Spaniard has responded.
The timing of Fernando Torres' adductor muscle injury is, indeed, cruel, as the maligned striker appeared to be on the cusp of performance - and career - resurgence. When it came to the former Liverpool talisman, Mourinho adopted the role of nurturer. He put his faith in the player, the player responded but Jose refused to accept the credit, allowing Torres himself to bask in the commendation.
This week, Mourinho has played another different role - one that would not be out of place in the Ferguson textbook of man management. The role he played with regards to Eden Hazard is that of a father scolding a poorly-behaved child/teenager.
Considering the player in question is a 22-year-old man, there may be some who believe the attitude to be of a condescending nature, but Hazard had committed a sin to Mourinho as the coveted Belgian attacker, in the words of the BBC, 'missed training'.
In dropping Hazard from his first XI for the 3-0 victory over Schalke in the Champions League, Mourinho effectively sent Eden a message… 'we can win without you', while also demonstrating that anything less than constant punctuality will not be tolerated.
'He is a kid and kids make mistakes and fathers have to be clever in the way they educate their sons,' said Mourinho, as quoted by the club's official website. 'He didn't play, he wanted to play, he is sad because he didn't play, we won without him and Saturday he is back, end of story.'
Hazard is one of Chelsea's marquee names, one of the better performers and a player who, no doubt, would have his pick of elite clubs if he was ever available on the transfer market, however, Mourinho showed that no matter who the Blue is, they are not exempt from discipline.
No player has more control than he does and, in a squad as full of big names and star power, that, at Chelsea, is a vital ingredient for short, medium and long-term success.
image: © thearcticblues