ONE of the most famous faces in the world of sport was sacked, again, by Chelsea last week. The self-proclaimed ‘special one’ at Chelsea, the ‘only one’ at Real Madrid, showed the pitfalls of being a manager, especially at a club like Chelsea. The Portuguese has done it all: he was won the Premier League three times, La Liga once, Seria A twice and the Champions League twice. Some have suggested that there was a harshness in his sacking; that Roman Abramovich demonstrated no loyalty in getting rid of the man who won them the league title (and convincingly at that) in May and, along with the example of former Swansea manager Garry Monk, how Premier League clubs are not allowing managers any time to develop because of the financial repercussions if they are not successful in their goals.
However, once you unpick the various factors which led to his downfall, perhaps it is not as surprising as initially claimed. Firstly, and crucially, he undoubtedly lost the dressing room. No matter who you are, when this happens, this is only going to affect the players in a negative way. Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas seem to be two players mentioned who are happy to see their former manager replaced; even more obvious is how these two Spanish internationals have certainly not put in their best performances for their former gaffer so far this season. Neither did Eden Hazard, the league’s best player last season. Clearly, the London side still possess some world-class players and should be in the top four, at the very least.
Previously, Mourinho has a history of struggling in his third season, especially with his records at Real Madrid and Chelsea. In his first spell in England, he won the league in his first two campaigns but faltered in the third where he was replaced by the same manager who has replaced him now: Guss Hiddink. Although the Russian manager has inherited a completely different situation this time around, he can still make the team go on a good run of form, although the extent of where they can even finish in both the league and in Europe is hotly debated. At Real Madrid, not least due to the Iker Casillas controversy where he dropped the Spanish goalkeeper and in doing so attracted some real enemies, something he could never recover from. This led to Real Madrid “only” finishing second, and losing in the Champions League semi-final and Copa Del Rey final to Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid respectively. Clearly, this is a world apart from Chelsea’s performances this season, but it was not what Florentino Perez and the Real Madrid fans expected so he had to go. Chief among the reasons for this was also the aforementioned controversy he caused as well as such incidents as eye-gauging the late Tito Villanova.
Thirdly, something which has no doubt exacerbated his demise at Stamford Bridge is the growing competitiveness of the Premier League, as seen by performances from most notably Leicester, but also Watford and Crystal Palace. This, certainly, cannot explain why Chelsea currently find themselves in 15th place, but it can explain some of this season’s defeats, compared to his spells at Chelsea last time and perhaps even at Real Madrid. If you do not put the effort in in Britain’s most elite league, you will be severely punished.
Pedro aside, there does not seem to have been any effective summer recruitments. Indeed, former Chelsea employees Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne demonstrate how over the last few seasons Chelsea have sold some quality players but have not always replaced them. Diego Costa played well last season, but Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto and Radamel Falcao have not done anywhere near enough to consider themselves worth of replacing former hero Dider Drogba. Romelu Lukaku and Daniel Sturridge were both not given a proper chance at the striker’s position, and whilst not all of this is Mourinho’s fault (as he was not there when Sturridge was sold to Liverpool), he has not replaced the problem either. Even Nemanja Matic was brought back from Benfica at great financial loss. There seems to be no genuine transfer policy, just like Manchester United.
If you place all of these factors together, perhaps it is not as surprising to see Chelsea not at the top of the table. The surprise, though, is that it is Leicester City who proudly sit first in the Premier League at Christmas and Chelsea are only three points ahead of the relegation zone. Certainly, the Blues still have time to put a run together to finish somewhere in the top half, and the summer will see them appoint a new manager; Pep Guardiola or Diego Simeone may be looking closely at that. However, what will happen to Chelsea in the long-term, nobody really knows. The club have become enslaved in the culture of sacking instead of backing the manager and this cannot be sustained in the long-run. It is also no surprise then that no young English talents have prospered there, since they never get the chance.
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