No team has retained the Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s marauding side won three in a row from 2007-2009. That team was truly world class from top to bottom with an equally world class manager steering the ship. This is specifically why I chose Chelsea to retain their Premier League crown this season. Chelsea are hardly world class but then again, no team in the Premier League is littered with that level of talent these days. So Chelsea, a model of defensive and overall stability should have been the best of a bad bunch. Manchester United are managed by a man who seems a little unstable, Manuel Pellegrini may be too nice to command the respect of his expensive dressing room while Arsene Wenger has lost the magic of days gone by. It all seemed to make sense to me. What I’ve seen this season shows that in football there is nothing at all like “sense.” Anything that can happen will happen. Chelsea’s rapid decline into mediocrity has been startling.
Mourinho is known for building from the back. His teams are resolute, tough to break down and will hit you on the counter attack. After so doing – and as we have discussed on many a podcast – Jon Obi Mikel will be brought in to pass sideways until the opposition is bored to death. Annoying? Yes. Effective? Even more so. This season, Chelsea are as porous as the US-Mexico border. John Terry looks like he needs to be in a retirement home and his replacement Kurt Zouma fluctuates between Kolo Toure at Arsenal and Kolo Toure in his Brendan Rodgers-managed form (fyi – that’s a very bad thing). Branislav Ivanovic who I lauded as the best right back in the league needs to go right back to Serbia and never come back, at this point. He’s simply the worst player on the team and you had better believe that opposition wingers are told to target him. I once said he’s built as solidly as a Soviet-era KGB agent. Well right now that PTSD is kicking in hardcore.
Granted, Thibaut Courtois’ injury doesn’t help what used to be a settled defense but let’s not forget how drunk he looked on opening day. Asmir Begovic deserves a lot of credit for how he’s stood up to his task as last line of defense with these jokers ahead of him. The thing is, Jose noticed the issue with his defense early on which is why John Stones was pursued as heavily as he was. Problem is, he didn’t sign Stones and decided he didn’t want any one else. That’s mighty Wenger-esque of Jose to not solve a problem he knew needed addressing.
In attack, Chelsea are even more of a mess. Diego Costa scored a lot of goals in his opening season but he’s heavily reliant on Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas who haven’t deserved the shirts on their backs this season. Costa struggled with form and injury towards the end of last season, so a striker to compete with him or even replace him must have been top of mind. Again, Mourinho decided that he had to act and indeed he did, by bringing in Radamel Falcao. Jose must think he’s Jesus and that Radamel Falcao is Lazarus. Anyone who saw Falcao play for Manchester United and Colombia over the last year knew El Tigre was no longer a fierce predator but a tame house cat. I thought that he’d have seen similar things in Falcao that were evident in another former Atletico striker who ended up at Stamford Bridge, Fernando Torres. Someone like Alexandre Lacazette should have been pursued to play with or instead of Costa if need be. Perhaps even just playing Loic Remy more often? Just anything but Falcao.
No matter what anyone tells you, the mood within Chelsea is just not right at the moment and it’s all Jose’s fault. Players are lacking confidence and it’s in the managers job description to do something about that. The players are no longer running into proverbial brick walls for him. Aside from that, the spat with Eva Carneiro is further proof that the Special One may need to have his head examined. Blaming a member of the medical staff for tending to an injured player on the request of the referee is ludicrous. Yelling what appeared to be sexist remarks at her is inexcusable. You’d expect a man with a daughter should know how to address a lady in a respectable fashion (pun intended).
For me, that incident came as a result of mounting pressure. Whether he admits it or not, the axe of Roman Abramovich will not be patient for too much longer. Then what would become of Jose’s legacy? He’ll be remembered as a serial winner but also as a serial loser, unable to create a lasting dynasty of any sort. Unable to blood in youth players who can push the first team players and hold them accountable. Unable to control his players, unable to respect women. A brilliant man with so many obvious flaws.
Chelsea now sit in the bottom half of the Premier League table and are coming off a loss at Porto, the club where the Mourinho legend began. Now they have to face Southampton at Stamford Bridge. In past years, you’d have predicted a Chelsea win without much trouble. Now we’re not sure what to expect. Chelsea are confusing and confused and that’s a reflection of their manager’s current state of mind.
Jose, it’s time to earn your legend status and turn this ship around.