If you’d have told any Chelsea fan in May that seven months on from celebrating a Premier League title, their team would be a point off the relegation zone, they would have laughed in your face.
Yet here we are. And who is to answer for this? 'The Special One', of course – no matter who he chooses to blame.
Fans have been left feeling deflated and discomfited over this year’s campaign, which has witnessed nine losses in 15 games, the final nail in the coffin coming from Leicester City and Claudio Ranieri – the man Jose replaced at Chelsea in 2004.
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However, many fans believe that it was wrong for him to go, and that ‘any minute now’ this ever-expanding rough patch would be mowed over and rejuvenated.
Here’s why the decision to sack Portuguese manager was a correct one:
The Chelsea board have handed out P45s for far less than this season’s catastrophe.
Avram Grant, for example, who replaced Mourinho in September 2007, got Chelsea to the Champions League and League Cup finals, was unbeaten at Stamford Bridge and achieved second place in the league. The board sacked him after that season.
Carlo Ancelotti, who won the double (FA Cup and Premier League) in his first campaign of 2009-10, was axed the following May after finishing second and leaving the trophy cabinet bare.
I could go on. But the point is, since their rise to the top of the league a decade ago, the Blues' board have cherished an insatiable hunger for success. Abramovich doesn’t have time to waste, and if managers don’t stump up the goods, they’re out. Simple as that.
It is a difficult situation because sacking a manager mid-season is conceding that the current boss can’t help them and Mourinho is regarded as one of the greatest Premier League managers of all time. So ‘the Special One’ was given special treatment and a backing from the board to turn things around that lasted longer than it should have.
Every club needs change on a regular basis. Whether that is to replace aging squad members or signing the next best thing, you need some switches to keep things ticking. This season has been a prime example of that.
Chelsea’s summer transfer window was rather fruitless.The only big signings being Spanish winger Pedro from Barcelona alongside backup keeper Asmir Begovic and the ever-failing Radamel Falcao. Taking an ‘if it’s not broken why fix it?’ attitude has been the approach to preparations - one of arrogance from the very top of the club, no doubt.
Although admittedly, the board are mostly to blame in this instance – as Mourinho did approach them asking for more cash – the manager dragged out a conquest for John Stones of Everton and gave up on a defensive marquee signing when he didn’t get his man.
Dressing room disaster
And so we reach the very core issue that has bred failure this season: Mourinho’s relationship with his players. The 52-year-old is a man known to pick a fight or two, and instead of on the touchline with an opponent, he’s chosen his own team.
Technical director Michael Emenalo said following the sacking there was ‘a palpable discord between manager and players’. The term ‘lost the dressing room’ gets thrown around too much in football, but when your technical director describes something like that, it’s quite clear the shoe fits.
Fans have constantly said the squad are at fault for “not trying”, and 5 Live’s Garry Richardson said an unknown Chelsea player had even suggested they’d “rather lose than win” for Mourinho, and that the manager himself had said: “I’ve got a couple of bad apples who are causing me problems.”
The only cure for the poor results amassing has to be a significant change. And why keep someone in charge who cannot command his team? This ‘palpable discord’ was only getting worse as the season wore on.
Losses to strugglers Bournemouth, who hadn’t won since early September, and Leicester, who have almost swapped places with Chelsea, showed the board they needed to find someone else.
He is still one of the greatest managers currently in world football, this season doesn’t change that. But those who think that Mourinho was on the way to making things better are simply delusional, and the grinding of gears behind closed doors was only going to continue, dragging the club further down the table.
Chelsea need a fresh approach, and a new voice at the helm, even if it is going to be through their favourite method of appointing an interim saviour to keep them afloat.
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