How Jose Mourinho can save his job

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It took Chelsea until December 6 to lose a match last season and suffered just three defeats in total as they tore away from the pack with some wonderful football in the first half of season.

They were unchallenged throughout thanks to some strong defensive displays in the second half of the season as they coasted to the title.

Now, almost a third of the way into this season, the defending champions find themselves well adrift in 16th place with just 11 points from 12 games, 13 off the top four and 15 behind leaders Manchester City.


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It is the Blues' worst ever start to a Premier League season and the worst of any defending champions.

Only Bournemouth and Sunderland have conceded more goals than Chelsea. But, Jose Mourinho's side haven't conceded more than three goals in a match yet, so they are just consistently conceding goals.

They have only managed to keep two clean sheets thus far, coming in games at home to bottom of the league Aston Villa and Arsenal, who were down to nine men.

Last term, the west London side had won nine of their opening 11 matches and only dropped points away to both Manchester clubs in 1-1 draws.

New signings Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were on fire, Eden Hazard was at his typical best and although they had only kept three clean sheets, they had conceded just 11 goals, half the amount they have let in this season.

They had also scored 28 goals, compared to a paltry 16 so far this season.

So what's changed?

Negative style of play

Mourinho's teams over the years have always been known for not playing the most expansive and attractive football, especially in recent years, but - whilst resolute in defence - Chelsea were actually very entertaining to watch for the majority of last season.

The team appears to have lost the ability to break teams down when they dominate possession and therefore frequently get caught out on the counter-attack.

Manchester United versus Chelsea in December will not be one for the purists as they have both adopted a very similar style of play this season.

The only difference being United can actually defend and find themselves in fourth place in the league.

Individual performances

The players themselves have looked a shadow of their former selves compared to this time last year. From the back to the front, the likes of Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, Fabregas, Hazard and Costa have all underperformed in almost every match this season.

Those seven, along with Cesar Azpilicueta, were the stalwarts of this Chelsea side, playing week-in, week-out and performing to an exceptionally high level, defensively in particular.

Fabregas was laying on the goals for fun last year, assisting an incredible 15 goals in the first half of the campaign, but only managed three more after looking set to destroy Thierry Henry's record of 20 in a season. Unfortunately for Chelsea and Mourinho, the Spaniard like many others, have started the season looking out of shape, form and luck.

Hazard, who swept up all of the individual awards last season, has been the stand-out struggler in the team but it has been coming.

He has picked up where he left off towards the end of last season as Chelsea look out of ideas when they go forward, however, it isn't all his own fault.

His team-mates give him the ball and then seem to watch him as if they are sat up in the stands or on the sofa watching on a big flat-screen TV in the comfort of their own homes. Nobody seems to move for him or make runs beyond the opposition defenders, it's as if they expect him to do it all on his own.

Pedro appeared to be the player to change that as he inspired them to a 3-2 win at West Brom on his debut, but he has rarely made an impact since then and has also missed several matches of late.

Costa looks the most out of shape after the long break they were given over the summer. It's clear to see their preparation for this season was all wrong, but they should have picked up by now, so far into the season.

The 27-year-old was another player who started very strongly last year and his form dwindled at the back end of last season as injuries crept up on him.

He was suffering from a persistent hamstring injury and despite having the title already wrapped up and being out of every other competition, Mourinho carried on playing Costa and he looked a lot worse for it.

They had Loic Remy on the bench, a very accomplished striker who must have been tearing his spiked hair out at not being given more opportunities to start matches.

One of very few players who can hold his head high and say he's done well is Willian. He's been the best player by a country mile, scoring goals and working exceptionally hard.

It's easy to forget he cost the club £30 million, though, one of their most expensive ever signings, but now appears to be paying a portion of that fee back on the pitch with some great performances.

Disruptive Mourinho must come out fighting

Regardless of what's been happening on the pitch, off the pitch - Mourinho has been destructive, rude and mind-boggling at times.

In his interviews, he appears deluded to what has just happened on the pitch, constantly praising his players for very average performances. It seems his team only has to dominate a match for 10-20 minutes for him to believe they were the better team.

When his team loses, he often eludes to the fact the 'best team' lost and then proceeds to blame refereeing decisions as to why they lost. It's good for a manager to protect his players, but he's taking it too far.

He needs to admit they were outplayed and actually show some respect to the teams who have beaten them.

In the wake of the 3-1 defeat to Southampton, he seemed to have a pre-prepared response to whatever question was thrown at him. It almost turned into a monologue and lasted an incredible seven minutes as he went on one of his biggest rants to date.

In the most recent interview after the Champions League victory over Dynamo Kiev, he was a little more familiar. Not exactly open with his answers, but he wasn't a closed book either.

Despite the fact he eluded to the match being a "must-not-lose", it certainly was a must-win match let's be honest, he had calm responses to most questions and moved on from ones he didn't wish to answer with a little more dignity than in previous weeks.

Mourinho has been in management for quite some time now and has a wealth of experience, but this is something very new to him.

Defeat is not something he is accustomed to and he has not been handling it very well. Once he accepts he has a fight on his hands and his attitude with the media has a huge effect on his players, Chelsea can move on from this and get back to winning matches.

He's allowed to show passion in his interviews, it just needs to be the right kind of passion. The passion we expect him to show in the dressing room and on the training pitch to motivate his players.

Sort the defence out

Clean sheets win matches, just ask Louis van Gaal. They've won three matches by a goal to nil this season and kept an incredible 12 clean sheets in all competitions.

Chris Smalling has been terrific but it's largely a make-shift defence with the likes of Daley Blind, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia all filling in at the back this season.

Chelsea had the best defence in the league last season and they have kept the same back four, so it's difficult to see why they have been such a shambles at the back.

Terry has come under fire and been dropped for several matches but Mourinho should have stood by his captain, who was arguably the best central defender in the league last season, if not in Europe.

Nemanja Matic is another to be heavily criticised and saw red in the defeat to West Ham, another decision Mourinho was critical of, but he had no leg to stand on really.

The goals will come, and they certainly would have won more than enough games this season if they had conceded a lot fewer goals.

If he doesn't change quickly, he must go

Providing he can sort his attitude and defence out, there's no doubt Mourinho will remain in the job, at least until the end of the season.

It would take the biggest payout in managerial history to sack him, although not usually an issue for Chelsea, it's just something Abramovich would rather not fork out for.

A club like Chelsea can't be floundering around in 16th place this deep into the season and he is clearly struggling to get his team playing with more urgency and fight.

If he doesn't change, Abramovich will be left with no choice but to let him go.

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