Actor Phil Daniels talks Mourinho and the managerial merry-go-round at his beloved Stamford Bridge.
By Oliver Pycroft
Photography Neil Bedford
This article first appeared in Issue 4 of The Green Soccer Journal, Autumn Winter 12/13
Will this season be a hangover or a vintage for Chelsea?
I don’t know. I don’t think a hangover so much, but I think they might find it difficult with Oscar and Hazard and these new buys for them to blend in. People just expect them to turn up, don’t they? And it takes a while, even Drogba took more than a year, and Ramires, and he’s a very good player. So I think it’s going to take a while.
Did you manage to get to the Champions League final?
No, circumstances beyond my control, I could have gone but I couldn’t make it. But it was some final. I think out of all those games, though, the moment I jumped about the most was when Torres scored against Barcelona. Him looking for someone to pass to and realising, ‘I’m on my own, I’m going to have to be a big boy at Chelsea’.
And this season, do you think Torres will finally cement his place at Stamford Bridge?
Well, it looks like they’re going to go with him. They haven’t got anybody else. But you don’t know with Torres. They can buy all these players to feed him and he still might not take the chances. I don’t think he’s ever going to be what he was at Liverpool those two or three seasons. But I’m sure he’ll get the chance, he’ll know he’s number one striker… otherwise we’ll have to get Drogba back, won’t we?
Who was your favourite Chelsea manager?
It’s difficult to say really. I liked Sexton, but when he sold Osgood and Hudson I went off him. But you know, Mourinho was fantastic for us but I was kind of feeling he should go when he went.
It seems to have taken a long time to lay Mourinho’s ghost to rest, doesn’t it?
It just goes to show how naïve you are as a fan, in a way. We wanted to ‘play more expansive football’ and this, that and the other and then all of a sudden it’s time for him to go.
And Andre Villas-Boas?
I was the first to go off him amongst the few of us that do the show. I was the first to say, ‘Get rid’. When he first came everybody believed that this revolutionary sort of system would work.
It didn’t take long to see the cracks with Villas-Boas, though?
Well you can’t walk in and tell Drogba you don’t rate him and tell Lampard he’s past it and expect them to sit down and take that. I know footballers: anyone who hasn’t played professionally and tells you you’re not a good footballer, they’re not going to respect. It’ll just go straight out the window and I think that’s what happened. And you know, a disciplinarian as well, I think there’s very few these days, very few. You’ve got to be pals with the players. If I have a director that I don’t like, it’s not going to be a happy show.
Have you ever been offered a footballing role?
There’s talk of me playing Charlie Hurley (Reading manager in the 1970s). Paolo Hewitt’s done the script; it’s about Robin Friday, called The Best Player You Never Saw. There’s a script now. Charlie, he looked after Robin.
Do you consider yourself an emotional football fan or a philosophical one?
I can’t stand it, getting beat, I really can’t stand it. But it’s been so good since we’ve been better than Arsenal and Tottenham really; we’re above them. It’s great that we won the Champions League like we did, it upsets Arsenal even more that we did it without even playing any decent football. Personally, I would have liked to kick Arsenal out the Champions league but Spurs is a good second.
Having enjoyed playing the role of a quintessential anti-hero, how did you deal with Chelsea’s transition to being a megaclub?
I don’t know, there’s times when you think, ‘I kind of preferred it’. But when you’re watching it’s still Chelsea. But, you know, I kind of remember those second division days, and they were good fun too, getting promoted or not getting relegated had quite a good buzz to it. We played a team once – I remember going to see it – in the Cup Winners’ Cup; we beat them 21-0 and they had a bloke with one arm playing on the wing!
Have you ever met Roman Abramovich?
No, but I’ve seen him walking down the King’s Road in his jeans with a couple of mates and you think, ‘Have they got Uzis?’