Just five months ago, Chelsea were celebrating becoming Premier League champions. The smile had finally replaced the scowl on Jose Mourinho’s face and the way his side waltzed to the crown suggested an era of dominance lay in store.
How long ago that all seems now. The Blues’ 3-1 defeat to Southampton in front of a furious Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening has consigned the party of less than half a year ago to distant memory. Just eight games in and already their hopes of retaining their title have been dashed.
Mourinho has never been one to admit defeat. Protesting has become a regular part of his style ever since he introduced himself to the world with Porto 13 years ago. But if these defeats continue to increase in regularity then walking away from the capital may be the only way of salvaging his reputation.
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Though he will not admit it, but the Portuguese has got everything wrong this term, even before a ball had been kicked. With Diego Costa’s battles with injury and discipline forcing him into the transfer market, the Blues boss swooped for Radamel Falcao who was insipid and lacklustre in their latest crushing defeat.
Then came the Eva Caneiro affair which has reportedly divided the dressing room and turned the entire world’s attention to Stamford Bridge.
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The medic, now axed from the club, was on the receiving end of Mourinho’s wrath on the opening day of the season and her departure has presented the manager with more problems than solutions.
Rumours of a spat with Costa and his decision to often overlook John Terry have further soured the current campaign. Despite having won the club three league titles across two different spells, the current malaise is threatening to become a tumour that could ravage his standing in the game.
Although he has won league titles and European gongs galore, Mourinho has never appeared the same charming, smiling character ever since he left Real Madrid after a trophyless season in 2013.
Many put that down to him missing out on the Manchester United job – which was bafflingly given to David Moyes – but it may in fact, stem from his fear of failure and worry of becoming like fierce nemesis Arsene Wenger who he often mocks for his periods without silverware.
At Madrid he won the league but failed to deliver La Decima, the tenth European crown the Spanish giants desperately craved. That former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti achieved the feat in his maiden campaign one year later only served to rub salt into the wounds.
If Mourinho stays at Chelsea then he could yet turn them around. They trail Manchester City by 10 points but still have 30 games to transform their fortunes. But failure would leave a scar and, with years of management ahead of him, could be a scar to haunt him for the rest of his career.