In an exclusive interview for 888poker.com ex-Chelsea star Wayne Bridge has insisted Jose Mourinho is remaining positive despite another calamitous defeat at the weekend to Bournemouth, in addition to revealing his style of poker play.
How would he describe his style of poker play?
“Rash! I usually just play with my mates for the get-together and laugh. As soon as I’ve had a couple of beers I’m pretty kamikaze.” When asked which of his former team-mates should consider taking up the game his reply makes us dream we could make it a reality. “I’m not sure what his poker face would be like but I’d love to see Craig Bellamy play. His talk around the table would be great and he’d get into people’s heads. Also just for the pure banter Jimmy Bullard would be entertaining.”
Jose Mourinho is remaining positive in crisis
With the champions in disarray from the get-go, losing over half of their opening fourteen games and finding themselves hovering above the relegation scrap in December it is tempting to imagine the Special One scaring the paint off the walls and players cowering in corners. Yet according to Bridge the environment is surprisingly upbeat. “Because I’ve been at football clubs I don’t tend to listen to what is being said because things get twisted. I’ve done my rehab there and it all seems fairly positive. The way players are these days they should be able to deal with any criticism so he won’t be taking a softly-softly approach. He will though be doing all he can to get the best out of those players. Everyone is wondering what the hell has happened but he will turn it around because that’s the kind of guy he is.”
There’s only one winner out of Mourinho and Costa
So far so encouraging for Blues fans but the situation at the club is quite clearly not as harmonious as the picture Bridge paints as Diego Costa’s recent touchline strop illustrated. “He doesn’t lose too many battles does Mourinho and for me there is only one winner out of those two. Obviously he (Costa) has shown his frustration and any player on the bench who thinks they should be playing will do something they shouldn’t. They will end up sorting things out.”
Chelsea won’t make top four
Even so any lingering hopes of a Champions League spot this season is surely a bridge too far? “I speak to people who think it’s not out of reach but for me personally they would have to do something spectacular and it only takes a draw or two. It’s a big ask.” The 35 year old spent six successful years in south west London, earning a league title along the way, and while one of his former charges is presently making headlines of the negative variety another is being lavished with praise.
Ranieri won’t be talking about top four to players
It was Claudio Ranieri who brought Bridge to the Bridge in 2003 in part-exchange for Graeme Le Saux and £7m and the Italian has greatly surprised one and all this term by taking his Leicester side to the lofty heights of the Premier League. What’s his secret? “One thing he did do when I was at Chelsea was he monitored the players a lot. If someone needed a rest they would get it whether that was one day or two day’s training. So all the players were physically top notch. For a team like Leicester the players have started believing in themselves. They started so well and now they’re going out thinking they will win each game.”
Ryan Bertrand is the equal of Chelsea’s Azpilicuerta
Bridge first made his name down at Southampton at a time when quality left-backs were in scarce supply and though that shortage has now been remedied it is perhaps pertinent that arguably the best exponent in the Premier League is Cesar Azpilicuerta, a naturally right footed player. Bridge though believes the Chelsea ace has an unlikely equal.
“Every time I’ve seen (Azpilicuerta) play he looks so solid and he is definitely up there with the best but I’m a Southampton fan so I love Ryan Bertrand. I was playing at Chelsea when he was coming through and he’s a really good full-back.”
Luke Shaw recovery will take longer than people expect
What then of Luke Shaw, another highly promising English left-back who saw his exceptional season halted with a horrific injury in Eindhoven back in September. With Bridge enduring an almost identical break in 2006 here Manchester United fans may want to look away.
“It happened in February and I started the next pre-season training but my ankle just didn’t feel right and I was struggling. I went out on loan to Fulham in January and had six months with them and throughout those six months I felt better and better. By the following summer I felt good. So it was a solid year.”
“It’s going to take time. I know that he is working really hard in rehab. He’s a player who is exciting to watch and he’s definitely got the ability to get back to being the top player he was before the injury.”