Is this Premier League Manager's Reign Coming To An End?
Not many teams were as dominant as Chelsea in their domestic leagues last season, running away with the Premier league title and only losing just three of their 38 league games. They made Stamford Bridge a fortress last season, they had an unbeaten home record which saw them only drop eight points on their own patch. Many tipped Chelsea and Mourinho to retain their title this season, but what has gone wrong at the Bridge?
It would be easier to answer what has gone right. Chelsea’s season hit the rails very early on, Mourinho stated in pre-season it would be “difficult” to “motivate” his players for the upcoming season after such a good campaign in 2014-15, he wasn’t wrong.
Firstly, the shambles that we will refer to as the “Eva Carneiro issue” which occurred in Chelsea’s opening game, a 2-2 draw against Swansea. “The Special One” ridiculed the then Chelsea team Doctor for rushing onto the pitch to treat last season’s player of the year Eden Hazard. An over-reaction in the extreme from Mourinho, what followed was her being removed from match-day duty and eventually dismissed by the club, something bizarre was clearly going on behind closed doors.
Chelsea have been a mere shadow of the side that was cutting through opposing defences almost at will last season. After 17 games this season their record is a pale comparison to the one that saw them lift the Premier League title last season. Only five wins and three draws in all competitions which has seen them drop to 15th in the league table, they are currently third in their Uefa Champions League group and already out of the League Cup courtesy of a defeat at Stoke City on penalties. Mourinho has suffered a staggering 9 defeats in all competitions which is already more than in the whole of last term.
On Monday it was widely reported that an unnamed First Team player stated to Radio 5 Live’s Garry Richardson that “he would rather lose, than win for Mourinho”. Many would accept that while that comes across as hugely unprofessional, it also paints quite a bleak picture from within Jose Mourinho’s club management.
He has for all intents and purposes, blown up in front of the cameras several times this season and we are only in November. Following another below par home performance at the weekend, this time resulting in a 3-1 home loss to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, his future was once again under scrutiny. The writing is on the wall for the Portuguese coach who would appear very close to the end of the line, Chelsea have to their credit stated they are “100% supportive of Jose” but this is a results business and at present he just is not providing what Mr Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea contingent have come to expect in recent years.
Mourinho is running out of time and no matter how “supportive” the Chelsea hierarchy state they are, a club of their size not achieving Champions League football would be a disaster and that is something the club could struggle to come to terms with.
There are murmurings of Mourinho having just two games to save his job, their next premier league game is away at Stoke City on 7th November and anything less than a win could seal his fate. Mourinho would be a hard act to follow and the big question is, “Who is available to take his place?”
The usual names have been thrust into the limelight. Josep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti appear to be the early front-runners. Ancelotti is a strange one as he has already been bitten by Roman Abramovich’s rapid “hiring and firing” policy in the past. Guardiola is more likely and would fit the type of football the Chelsea owner would like to see played by his side. Guardiola in the last season or so has continually been linked with a move away from Bayern Munich and has stated he has a “desire” to manage in England with London a preferred destination. However any deal for the highly regarded coach would surely need to happen next Summer, thus requiring an interim appointment, much like when Rafa Benitez took the reigns in the 2012-13 campaign.
The current predicament that Mourinho finds himself in is new found territory, but is of all his own making. No matter how many times he continually points the finger at the absurdity that is “a referee campaign against Chelsea”, or brings up Arsene Wenger in a press conference. The Chelsea fans expect him to find a solution, a solution that is evading him and has done since August.
You can point the finger at the club not financially backing his desire to buy a top centre back in the Summer, but this is basically the same squad as the previous season and he has not been able to motivate his players to kick on and go again, that is his job and thus far he has failed.
For all his achievements in the game and their have been many, eight League titles and two successful Uefa Champions League campaigns are among them. He is developing a reputation (if he hasn’t already) as a journeyman. Since his first managerial appointment in 2000 at Benfica he has had six different clubs and not stayed more than three seasons at any of them. His last three clubs have been Chelsea (2004-07), Real Madrid and Inter Milan and all have had a very similar pattern. He has had numerous arguments with the hierarchy or personnel of those clubs which in turn have seen his departure, the current situation at Chelsea would appear to be a carbon copy of what the football world has become very familiar with.
It still remains to be seen whether Mourinho can turn things around, the signs are ominous for their fans who are still loyal to the former Real Madrid coach, but it would be a brave man to back him still being in charge when the transfer window re-opens in January.
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