By David de Winter – Sports Editor
OK, I’ll admit it: I am enjoying Chelsea’s current malaise. Whilst my own team, Liverpool, languish depressingly in mid-table it is comforting to revel in someone else’s misfortune, namely Jose Mourinho’s. The Chelsea supremo has presided over a disastrous start to the campaign with 5 defeats in 10 league matches. The previously unflappable Portuguese has seemed flustered and tetchy in recent weeks, understandable given his team’s run of poor form. So with Roman Abramovich at the helm, a man not known for his patience and tolerance of failure, could Mourinho’s job genuinely be in jeopardy?
Chelsea’s sudden ineptitude is as alarming as it is surprising. However, they are being punished for failing to add to their squad in the summer. Since winning the title at a canter last season there has only been one world-class addition in Pedro (Falcao doesn’t count). By contrast rivals Manchester City bought Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi and Manchester United invested in Bastian Schweinsteiger, Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay. The Blues also lost Didier Drogba who may not have contributed much on the field but clearly played a role off it. Moreover their pursuit of Everton’s John Stones, who they evidently need now more than ever, proved fruitless.
Nevertheless a team of Chelsea’s pedigree should not be hovering three points above the relegation zone. In this current campaign their big performers haven’t fired: goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was suspended and then got injured, Branislav Ivanovic hasn’t been able to scale the heights of last season, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas have looked off-colour and Diego Costa doesn’t seem fit and seems more interested in fighting opposition defenders than locating the goal.
And then there is the John Terry conundrum. The Chelsea captain is no longer the force of old, so much so that he was unceremoniously dropped earlier in the season. Even given that old defender’s saying that ‘the first five yards are in the head,’ JT is off the pace. Without a fully-firing Terry in defence Chelsea are suddenly vulnerable and porous and opponents are not afraid to exploit this.
Where does Mourinho fit in to all of this? The ex-Porto man is still playing his classic mind games, blaming everything under the sun apart from himself for his team’s current woes in a desperate attempt to deflect attention and criticism. Except this time it is not working. He just sounds like a spoilt brat, moaning and whingeing when decisions don’t go his way instead of concentrating on his and Chelsea’s shortcomings. From his shameful treatment of ex-team doctor Eva Carneiro, to the alleged ‘shove’ on a member of the public last week, to his sending-off at the weekend, his behaviour has been of a man struggling to cope with the pressure of top-level management which, for him, is unexpected.
So despite not having managed at Premier League level (unless you count Football Manager) I have some advice for Mr Mourinho: enough with the ego trip; stop blaming referees, the FA and the cosmos. Keep a low profile for a few weeks (difficult for you I know) and concentrate on one thing and one thing only: improving Chelsea FC. Lose the big mouth for once and let the football do the talking.