Mourinho for the sack? How things turned nasty at Chelsea

Poor form, few signings, medical dramas and bruised egos at Chelsea could leave Mourinho facing another short-lived reign

Jose Mourinho
(Image credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

After winning the Premier League at a canter last season Jose Mourinho spent much of the summer baiting his managerial rivals, but now he's the man in the firing line after Chelsea made a poor start to the new campaign and the Portuguese proved he is still a lightning rod for controversy.

The odds on Mourinho, now in the tricky third season of his second spell at Stamford Bridge, losing his job have been slashed to 10-1, making him second-favourite for the chop after Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat.

The season may only be two games old but already the Chelsea manager has serious problems to address on and off the pitch.

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It's not as it the Blues' problems have come from nowhere - commentators spotted the warning signs a while ago. The Blues were average in pre–season and looked out of sorts in the Community Shield.

"Surprised by Chelsea's 3-0 defeat to Manchester City? You haven't been paying attention," says Danny Griffiths in Metro. "A club of Chelsea' stature should not be losing to teams like New York Red Bulls as they prepare for a new campaign.

"Chelsea lack balance and top stars are failing to click," he adds


The form of Chelsea's stars is one thing, but the tactics and formation are directly down to the manager, and his approach to the game against Man City left many people baffled.

Alan Shearer of the BBC was shocked to see Cesc Fabregas playing alongside Nemanja Matic at the base of midfield, instead of Ramires, who successfully snuffed out the City threat when the two teams met last season.

"Fabregas did not look like he knew whether he was meant to be an attacking midfielder or a defensive one. He ended up being neither," says Shearer. "Too many times they went at Chelsea straight down the middle through David Silva or Sergio Aguero and it was too easy for them."

The substitution of John Terry raised even more eyebrows. It was the first time Mourinho has ever subbed the defender in a Premier League match, but he later explained that he did so in order to get his fastest player, Kurt Zouma, onto the field and play with a high defensive line. Against a team like Man City, who rely on speed and movement, playing a high line is risky and unlike Chelsea.

Lack of signings

There has been speculation that Mourinho subbed Terry (and also sent on Juan Cuadrado, a player the manager appears not to trust) in order to send a message to owner Roman Abramovich, making it clear that he was in need of reinforcements.

That was the conclusion of Graeme Souness on Sky Sports. He may be incorrect, but if his assumption is right then Mourinho is playing a dangerous game; sacrificing Premier League points to make a political point.

But it is undeniable that Chelsea's transfer business this summer has been underwhelming. Writing for website The Sack Race, Andy Dillon of The Sun says: "There is growing evidence that maybe Mourinho is struggling in the one area where he really needs to get it spot on – the transfer market.

"Splashing big bucks on established names is no real risk but digging out the nuggets who can improve your team, and in these financially aware days your club's Financial Fair Play standing, requires more of the grey matter than the green stuff. Mourinho has not been that special in this regard for some time."

Bruised egos

Terry may have been taken off against City to give Abramovich a glimpse of Chelsea's future without their talisman, but Terry is still part of the Chelsea present and by Mourinho's own admission he was "not dancing" after being taken out of the firing line. Then there is the question of how Abramovich feels about apparently being sent such a stark message in the middle of a game against one of his side's biggest title rivals.

Terry is the leading player at the club, and Abramovic is the paymaster, Mourinho would not want to make enemies of either, or to use them as pawns.

Making enemies

This season Mourinho appears not to care who he upsets, as last week's medical drama concerning Eva Carneiro proves. But he may have made a big mistake, says Michael Calvin of The Independent. His "sustained petulance and unseemly arrogance" during the row over the treatment of Eden Hazard have left him "uniquely vulnerable".

"His achievements demand deference," Calvin says. "His status as the pre-eminent strategic coach of his generation is well merited and constantly renewed. Yet he has lost control of the agenda in a manner which hints at a fundamental weakness."

Third season syndrome

The Portuguese has only lasted more than three seasons at a club once before, in his first stint at Chelsea, and he walked out on the Blues early in the fourth campaign. He never made it that far at Porto and Inter Milan, and his final third season at Madrid was a poisonous affair. This Chelsea campaign looks as if it could be similar.

"Whatever happened to the normally excitable Jose Mourinho? Has something been going on?" asks Paul Wilson of The Guardian. "All of a sudden the Chelsea manager is a study in detached insouciance, wearing an expression as dark as his suit and resolutely refusing to react to anything. Perhaps he feels people might be watching him."

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