Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Blues Dig Deep to Beat Rovers

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Blues Dig Deep to Beat Rovers

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Stone

Jose Mourinho exchanged a congratulatory embrace with Roman Abramovich at Old Trafford in the first sign of a thaw in the frosty relationship between the two that threatens to end in a messy summer divorce, writes Simon Stone.

Mourinho bumped into the Chelsea owner in the directors' suite at the Theatre of Dreams in the aftermath of the extra-time FA Cup win over Blackburn which confirmed a May 19 showdown with Manchester United at Wembley.

The conversation was brief but it could mark the start of a more productive relationship between the pair, who have not spoken to each other since the beginning of January.

"I have met him (Abramovich) and we had a hug," said Mourinho. "I told him congratulations and he said the same. That is normal." After months of uncertainty over his position, Mourinho has asked Abramovich to make his intentions clear.

A five-second conversation in a packed bar-room will not achieve that but peace talks presumably cannot be far away and with Chelsea still gunning for an unprecedented quadruple, Abramovich must be having doubts over the wisdom of letting Mourinho go.

Certainly it is hard to imagine Chelsea finding a replacement capable of instilling such a fierce fighting spirit in his players.

Just five days after scoring a last-gasp winner against Valencia, Chelsea delved deep into their reserves again, bouncing off the ropes to beat Blackburn courtesy of a Michael Ballack strike after at one stage appearing to be there for the taking.

If Morten Gamst Pedersen had converted a late chance, or man of the match Petr Cech not kept out John Terry's goalbound back-header, the Blues almost certainly would not have recovered.

"I was afraid," said Mourinho. "If they had scored at the end of normal time, the game would probably have been over. But my team were heroes again."

Mourinho admitted he was worried about the damaging mental and physical toll so many hard games are having on his team, especially given the report he got back from Eastlands on Saturday, where Champions League semi-final opponents Liverpool played a bore draw with Manchester City. …

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