Jose Mourinho's response will speak volumes of the man

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All eyes were on Stamford Bridge for what was labelled as a do or die fixture for Jose Mourinho.

Despite public backing from the Chelsea board, many thought a loss to Liverpool would lead to the Portuguese being shown the door.

The Blues' worst ever start to a top-flight campaign came to many as a surprise, but to the thoughtful fan serves as a harsh reminder of how failing to address clear incongruity in a system and specific areas of discrepancy can spell disaster, even after a Premier League winning campaign.


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Perhaps triumphing so flamboyantly led eyes to ignore clear chinks in the chain and compounding that caused a certain negligence to creep in, but in a summer where rivals Manchester United and Manchester City broke the bank to sign big names and Arsenal so astutely added Chelsea stalwart Petr Cech, Mourinho's men floundered and found themselves with measly additions in comparison.

Were it not for the addition of Pedro from Barcelona it would have been considered one of the worst possible summer transfer windows during the Roman Abramovich era.

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Failure to strengthen in the summer aside, the Blues boss was seemingly content with his squad and relaxed their summer pre-season regime.

He wanted to give them a warranted break after their exploits the previous season by allowing players longer vacations, but, in fact, actually went a step further by lowering the intensity of their pre-season training and preparation - a careless mistake by the 'Special One'.

The signs were clear as broad daylight as Chelsea found it difficult to get out of the traps and hit the ground running come the opening day.

Diego Costa and Eden Hazard came into the season overweight and with their heads completely out of the game; Cesc Fabregas - who pulled the strings from midfield - was lacking any coherence in terms of movement and fluidity to his passing game. Meanwhile, the ever-so-dependable defence leaked goal after goal in pre-season which should have sent the alarm bells ringing before the campaign had even kicked off in August.

To the thoughtful fan, this run of form comes as no surprise. The aging John Terry and his defence, the mismatched roles of Nemanja Matic and Fabregas in the middle of the pitch and the over-reliance on Costa (his twanging hamstrings aside) and Hazard for goals and creativity have all come to the fore in an absolute catastrophic title defence.

Lackadaisical in a word is what perfectly describes Chelsea's performances and attitude to games this season. The swagger, intensity, over-accustomed anger and assertion is what we have come to expect Stamford Bridge sides of the past, but is currently unrecognisable. To the observer, it would appear as remnants of Mourinho teams of old.

For the 52-year-old, the story is a familiar one: transform a club in two seasons, win a major title or more and self-destruct in the third, leaving a mess behind for a new manager to clean up before moving on to another club. A similar theme to his previous stint at Chelsea and his spells at Inter and Real Madrid. The 'Special One’s' typical third season syndrome at a club.

The warnings were there for the world to see after the much-publicised row with team doctor Eva Carneiro. Since then it has got quite messy with comments against referees, rants after games, fines, bans and being sent to the stands.

Nevertheless, he was given a chance to redeem himself against Liverpool. Mourinho opted to stick to the side that went out on penalties against Stoke in the League Cup - and it started well, Chelsea took the lead inside the opening exchanges, but it went downhill from there.

Asmir Begovic kicked every single ball high up field without ever looking to build up play from the back while the rest of the Chelsea team were mere bystanders to a Liverpool side far from their best, but who at least decided to make something happen.

The tinkering in midfield left Chelsea without an orchestrator in midfield to circulate possession, leaving Ramires trying to run at players from his own half while John Obi Mikel only sprayed passes either to the side or backward.

Chelsea seemingly tried to enter the game with a counter-attacking strategy, similar to the games they won against Manchester United and Arsenal towards the end of last season, but for that to work the opposite team must attack with ferocity and pace while defending deep and look for killer passes on the break.

None of that materialised though. Liverpool built up play at their own pace and Chelsea once again were caught with their defensive line neither deep nor pressing.

At times, Chelsea let Coutinho and company effortlessly breeze past them rather than force a mistake. Intensity and bite were completely missing while an attacking purpose was nothing short of non-existent.

All in all, a farcical game at Stamford Bridge. Taking nothing away from Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, who may have expected much more from the champions, justifying their initial reluctance to open the floodgates.

The Ramires goal was Chelsea’s only shot on target – a grim statistic highlighting how normal tactics and gameplan cannot be applied to a team in crisis.

Mourinho must go back to the drawing board and re-think his strategies and game plan, but more than anything else: assess and address his weaknesses, something he has failed to do so far.

It’s true the first choice keeper Thibaut Courtois is still injured, but how much could he have done to rescue the Blues?

The Chelsea defence is aging and needs reinforcements, now more than ever. He knew that all too well and yet after a few failed bids for John Stones refused to bring in anybody of equal repute.

His ‘let's see how things go’ attitude to the season was a disastrous mistake to make at this level. Branislav Ivanovic and Terry’s combined performances thus far further echoing the need for a complete revamp at the back.

The need for another midfielder was very much apparent last year as well, with Chelsea’s poor previous Champions League exit a particular exposure.

The question everybody would like answered is: Where has the Mourinho winning mentality gone? His siege mentality and cut-throat approach to games have seemingly disappeared and teams no longer fear his side.

With a large part of the season remaining, Mourinho must stop blaming people, making excuses and start accepting the mistakes, addressing the issues and finding a solution if he is to assert himself as a long-term manager for Chelsea and not the two-season trick pony he has shown himself to be so far.

Perhaps this is a test for the 'Special One' and if he is given time his response to this crisis will speak volumes of the man.

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