Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been at Stamford Bridge for the best part of 11 years now - and he’s proven, on numerous occasions, that he’s not afraid to make bold decisions when required.
The boldest decision of his Chelsea tenure to date came back in September 2007, when the Russian billionaire had grown tired of Jose Mourinho - or, rather, his team’s negative football. Abramovich subsequently told Mourinho to walk or be sacked, so the mutual consent line was rolled out before the Portuguese coach found himself a new job with Inter Milan.
Seven years later and Abramovich could well find himself in another similar situation. He re-hired Mourinho after patching up his relationship with the former FC Porto coach, whose reputation was bolstered further thanks to his successful spells with Inter and Real Madrid, while the Chelsea fans made it crystal clear that no-one but Mourinho would be good enough for manage the Blues.
However, Mourinho’s return has not worked out as well as either he, Abramovich or the club’s supporters had envisaged. It’s now almost certain that the Portuguese will end his first season back at the Bridge without a trophy - which, for a club blessed with such a star-studded squad, is bordering on unacceptable - while he has also fallen out with several of the club’s players.
In fact, it’s starting to resemble his final year at Real Madrid, where he ended up alienating himself from just about every player at the club thanks to his unpredictable and arrogant personality. Mourinho used to be a coach that every footballer loved playing under. But, somewhere along the line, he’s changed.
Even Juan Mata, one of the most placid and universally-liked footballers the Premier League has ever had, was visibly disgruntled by Mourinho after being bizarrely omitted from the team in the first half of this season before being sent on his way to Manchester United.
The Chelsea boss has also alienated himself from one of the best young strikers in Europe, Romelu Lukaku, who could leave Stamford Bridge this summer - while Eden Hazard, the player Mourinho described as the best youngster on the planet not so long ago, is also fed up with his manager.
No player is bigger than the club, of course, but neither is any manager. And Mourinho has reached a stage where his decisions and comments are beginning to harm Chelsea as a football club.
Hazard is, as Mourinho says, arguably the best young player in the world - he must be kept, and kept happy. The £80m-rated Belgium international has enjoyed a fine season and didn’t deserve to be publicly castigated by his manager for switching off against Atletico Madrid recently. That’s a tactical matter that ought to be resolved out on the training pitch or inside the manager’s office.
It may soon get to the point where Abramovich must decide whether to allow Mourinho to continue on his path of destruction - which will cost Chelsea more of their most talented players, following the sale of Mata - or nip it in the bud this summer and agree, for the second time, to mutually part company with the divisive Portuguese coach.
If Pep Guardiola becomes available, though, you can bet your bottom dollar that Abramovich - a long-term admirer of the Bayern Munich coach - won’t even wait for Mourinho to agree to leave Stamford Bridge.
This time he will sack him.
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