It is perhaps unsurprising that Chelsea’s latest defeat sparked a series of social media posts that at least questioned Jose Mourinho’s position as manager and directly called for it to end.
The culture of modern football, which can often see managers under pressure very early regardless of past success, Chelsea’s own recent tradition of making dismissals midway through the season as well as Mourinho’s own extremely high standards have meant this season’s travails have created the scenario that many thought impossible in August- the job of Chelsea’s most successful being put in doubt.
The 2-1 loss to West Ham yesterday afternoon was a microcosm of Chelsea’s season thus far. The sloppy lack of concentration that led the opening goal, the brief resurgence in the second half following equally poor defending from the home side and then the killer mistake that was eminently avoidable. That the officials made two decisions to Chelsea’s detriment- one right and one wrong- and Chelsea’s lack of discipline thereafter only sought to make the game even more representative of the Premiership champions’ poor season so far.
Mourinho did not speak to the press following the game and it was later revealed that he was dismissed from the sidelines at half-time by the referee. Given his fine and suspended touchline after the home defeat to Southampton three weeks it was probably a good thing, one can only be grateful it is not the custom for Premiership managers to vent their anger on social media.
The ire of many fans on Facebook and Twitter was aimed at a combination of the referee- primarily for disallowing Fabregas’ goal when he was onside- the poor performances of many of last season’s star players and Mourinho himself. The Portuguese’s continued trust in the below par performers such as Fabregas, Matic and Hazard- though the Belgian was dropped last week- is often cited along with his insistence on blaming officials himself and his supposed arrogance.
Nobody can hold the opinion that Mourinho is blameless, or in fact that all those charges hold a degree of truth, but nor can anyone deny his past achievements- the cliche of him being only able to win with money being almost completely baseless. Those directly calling for him to leave appear to have no pertinent alternative, leaving the more level headed of us to think their opinion is largely punitive. Diego Simeone has been linked but chances of him leaving fourth placed in La Liga Atletico Madrid for a Chelsea in apparent free fall in October are fanciful, as are ideas that Chelsea could pry back one of their less successful but more mellow managers- namely Carlo Ancelotti- having already sacked him are equally stupid.
During his recent seven minute speech after the loss to Southampton Mourinho struck a certain point, that being this one a moment of acute crisis for Chelsea. The decision the club makes on its manager could define it for the next few years, just as the Portuguese’s original departure in 2007 did as the club looked all over the continent for someone to sufficiently replace him.
The troubles with Chelsea are deeper than the manager and cannot, and will not should club decide to replace him, be fixed. There are traces of 2007 at this certain time, the biggest being the clear and obvious lack of able recruitment in the summer. Rather than looking for a quick fix in the shape of a new manager, the club should examine why it has not given the squad the refreshment it desperately needs and what Mourinho requested the moment last season was over.
This is not a time for Chelsea to make such a drastic change in the manager’s seat. It was only a few years ago that the club were mocked throughout Europe for sacking managers too early, a policy that prevented the team from challenging for the biggest honours on a yearly basis. Those in disagreement are themselves guilty of having very short memories.
This season has gone from being one where Chelsea could push on from winning back the Premiership title to winning in Europe to a campaign where the very involvement in the Champions League beyond this season is under threat. The club need to look beyond the fact they have almost certainly relinquished their domestic title and hold fast so that can start again next season by backing their manager both by keeping in his job and giving him the funds to improve the squad in January and the summer.