Almost half the season is over; teams are fighting for the top spots in the premier league, while the obvious Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United are in the mix of the top four, one of the giants is missing, its Chelsea. Chelsea is currently at the bottom half of the table at the 15th position as on 22nd December 2015.
A team that did not lost a match in the last season of 2014-15 and won the premier league with an immaculate defence and an ever charging attack with 87 points at the end of the season cannot seem to string a few passes together, with more than capable players like Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Branislav Ivanovic, Oscar, Pedro to name a few. A club with of a value of $1370 million, the team is expected to win, the manager and players are expected to perform as they did in the previous season. Then what is it that such a prolific team failed to be even in the top 10 teams this season so far? What really went wrong?
Here’s a theory,
There are two mistakes that Jose Mourinho made as a manager which led to the downfall of the blues this season;
The “Special One”
José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix a.k.a. Jose Mourinho is a terrific manager, or atleast was till the season of 2014-15.His list of awards and trophies are long, he has won leagues with F.C. Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan and was also awarded FIFA Coach of the year in 2010. Now, those of you who don’t know the style of Mourinho, its win win win. He is straight up, cocky and a self anointed “special one”, unfortunately this time around it took him down.
The first mistake that Mourinho made was the selling of Petr Cech to Arsenal, and bought Asmir Begovic in his place. Chelsea’s first team goalkeeper was and is Thibaut Courtois. A role of keeper in a team is not just to dive and make saves for the team but also to manage the back four (defenders), guide them and position them. A keeper defines the outlook of a team considerably. During this summer transfer window, Mourinho sold his reserve goalkeeper and a veteran Petr Cech to the gunners. Now Cech was a backup keeper in Chelsea with Courtois being the first choice. Though he was a reserve keeper, let’s not take away the credit as to how good a keeper he is, he has the most clean sheets in the history of premier league and managed to secure 7 clean sheets this season for Arsenal compared to just 4 by Chelsea as a whole.
Little did Mourinho know that his prime keeper Courtois will be red carded and banned for three matches in the first match of the premier league against Swansea managing a draw 2-2. Now, his newly bought keeper had to be the man keeping the post for Chelsea for the next few matches. To add to the miseries, the next match was with one of the giants of the premier league, Manchester City. Not an ideal match to put your newly bought keeper up for the job. Sure enough, City hammered the blues 3-0.
To illustrate my point further, the next few matches did not go well for the blue lions; they barely managed a win against West Brom (3-2) and lost to Crystal Palace, Everton, West Ham, Liverpool and Stoke City subsequently. One thing common in all the losses was the man between the cross bars for Chelsea, the new reserve keeper Asmir Begovic. Had Mourinho not sold the ever reliable Cech, the story could have unfolded differently for the blues.
The second mistake Mourinho made was being Mourinho. He has always been a manager that has brought out curiosity in managers and fans of other teams, the Portuguese clearly has talent for the job he does with the trophy cabinet of his, but his constant shows of cockiness in the press make him a person that interests, amuses and brings out the urge to see him smashed in the b*llocks by those in the football world.
Here are some of his orations to the media to illustrate my point,
“Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.”
“I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea.” – On Arsène Wenger
“I saw their players and manager go for a lap of honour after losing to us in their last home game. In Portugal if you do this, they throw bottles at you.” – On Manchester United
“Everybody is crying that Chelsea keep winning and winning and winning so I think that draw at Goodison Park makes everyone happier. It gives people more hope and brings to the Premiership what everybody was waiting for.”
Mourinho takes it head on with everybody, but that is because the team is winning, when you are not winning you cannot be commenting on the managers of other clubs or on your own player performances, the attitude of players and the staff around you changes when you directly criticize them on the international media.
Filipe Luis a Chelsea player for one season who was sold to Atletico Madrid had this to say about his former manager, “He has his way of talking to the press, especially when the team loses, which can sometimes be damaging to certain players. Some players benefit from criticism but for others, they don’t,”
Talking about your player in a public manner, needs to be just enough, enough to motivate the player and not ridicule him, he created a situation of negativity by blaring criticism about his players on media. Criticism of Hazard from Mourinho is not new, back in May he famously admitted he was frustrated with the Belgium international for not being the “kind of player ready to sacrifice himself 100 per cent for the team”.
Managers have a reason they always do, they have some tactical or some positional strategies, and perhaps this brash and self-righteous attitude of being right took Mourinho down.
The Falcao experiment failed miserably with him scoring only 1 goal out of the 9 games he played with a goal in every 214 mins, which is not what you want from your striker but Jose was persistent to keep on playing with him. Also, not playing your best players when you are losing will not get you back on winning ways, no matter how well you strategize your game and your opponent you need to put your best team and best players on the team sheet. Well, look at LVG.! Mourinho benched the likes of Terry, Fabregas, Costa, Pedro and Ramires for a majority of the matches, the like of players who have the capability to get the ball up in the right area and create scoring opportunities. You cannot disturb the core of your team, especially when you are not on the winning ways. The downfall was inevitable.
An incident between Mourinho and Diego Costa when the latter threw his bib at his manager for not making him play in the matches against Tottenham and Bournemouth showing discontent between the two. Other silent spat that evidently happened between Mourinho and Hazard was in the match against Leicester which they ended up losing 2-1. In the first half of the match Hazard took a light fall on his hip and could not play further so was substituted. Some football pundits think the fall was not enough to cause an injury, and it seemed like the winger did not want to play further and was not really injured, but these doubts were given a little bit of facticity when Mourinho in his post match said, “I don’t know what is wrong, the only thing I know is in 10 seconds he made the decision himself. It must be a serious injury because he just left the pitch and just made the decision not to go in.” when asked about Hazard’s injury. A manager oblivious of a player’s injury is unknown of and a vague statement as such legitimized some sparks between the two.
Few poor decisions can lead to a catastrophic failure and there cannot be a better analogy for a catastrophic failure – The Chelsea Story. The special one collapsed for the first time and the fall was hard, very hard. On 17th December Chelsea sacked Jose Mourinho as its manager and appointed Guus Hiddink as the new interim manager.
The fans and the players will expect the results to change with a change in the managerial head and so will the football lovers around the world.
About The Author
I’m a law student, studying in UILS, Panjab University, currently in my second year. A football lover, enjoy watching the game and an ardent Arsenal FC fan