Was last Christmas the beginning of the slide for Chelsea?
When Andy Carroll scored just about the most ‘Andy Carroll’ goal he possibly could, to give West Ham a 2-1 victory over Chelsea, not only did it result in West Ham going to the dizzy heights of 3rd place, but it also perhaps spelled the end for Mourinho’s second stint in the Chelsea dugout.
It is hard to pinpoint the main reason behind their abysmal performances this season; some pointing to Mourinho consistently arguing with referees, pundits, commentator resulting in a distracting side-show for the players. Other factors such as Hazards poor form, the players being tired from the previous season’s efforts, and the lack of signings in the summer have been bought forward as to why the Special One is seeming like anything but that.
Many of the bookies have Mourinho as favourite to be the next manager to depart the Premier League, and last night’s defeat at the hands of Stoke only made this seem more and more likely. THere was an air of inevitability as Hazard stepped up and missed that penalty, and in this cruel world we live in; Mourinho’s golden boy from last season may have just tapped that nail ever so slightly more into the coffin. Listening to Mourinho’s post-match interview, it became clear when the cracks began to show for Chelsea. This may seem like a distant memory now but do you remember when Mourinho claimed himself to be “the Happy One”? Now do you also remember when that self-proclaimed nickname started seeming highly amusing? If not then fear not; as I take us on a trip down memory lane…
It was the 28th December as Chelsea drew 1-1 to a very decent Southampton side, however, Mourinho claimed after that game that there was a “campaign against Chelsea,” due to them not being awarded a penalty. Not only was he talking to officials whilst saying this, but also pointing the finger at “people, pundits and coaches”, claiming they “react in ways to Chelsea that they don’t react to other teams”. Mourinho’s belief of this campaign remained into the 2015/2016 season, as he continued to speak negatively of referees;claiming that “referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea”. This comment landed him a whopping £50,000 fine, and his antics continued as he got sent to the stands against West Ham. This, combined with the Eva Carneiro saga at the start of the season, is surely going to have a negative effect on the squad and the overall mood currently at Chelsea.
It may seem odd for me to be pointing to the middle of last season as the start of the downfall of Chelsea, as they only lost 2 games after the turn of the year, but it was at around this time that potential weaknesses started to show. I pinpoint this as it was not only the point in which the relationship between Mourinho and everyone outside of Chelsea football club became slightly sour, but also when it seemed obvious that this was a Chelsea side that if they were going to win the league, would need to show extremely high rates of fitness and determination due to having a small squad. Alongside this they were also going to need an extremely good Eden Hazard. Both these things came in abundance, however, the former could only last so long; and without the latter this season Chelsea have looked extremely unimaginative in their play. It is clear that due to lack of depth in Chelsea’s squad, combined with their valiant efforts last season, they would need fresh legs in the summer, and other than Pedro who has hardly been spoken of since his signing, this really didn’t come. Alongside this they have last season’s PFA ‘player of the year’ being unable to replicate his form. Hazard was fundamental to the success of Chelsea title success, without this they have become so reliant on set pieces and hit-and-hope football that we really did not expect after the exciting football we saw from them last season.
The negative impact of Mourinho picking fights with everyone who dare defy him, the fall of Eden Hazard and the lack of summer signings all add up to a bad start to the season for Chelsea. They are in serious need of someone to bring in some new signings in the January transfer window, and they are in serious need of someone to help Hazard get back to his best. However, if they do not take all three points off Liverpool on Saturday it is hard to see whether or not Mourinho will be the man to do this.
Featured image: all rights reserved by Ronnie McDonald.
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