Friday, August 18, 2017

A special headache for the Special One.

Jose Mourinho

It is no longer news that the self-proclaimed “Special One”, Jose Mourinho, has been having some not-so-special moments as the coach of the defending champions of the English Premier League, Chelsea, since the beginning of the 2015/16 season. The Blues have won three, drawn two, and lost an alarming five of the 10 games they have played so far this season, a result which has seen them languishing in the 15th position with 11 points on the Premier League table. This is a shock to many and their worst start to a Premier League season in 37 years!

Mourinho’s seven-minute rambling to one question after his side’s defeat at Southampton was reminiscent of a man clutching at straws out of desperation.

He cut the figure of one afraid of getting the boot after his second coming to a club he clearly loves so much. And even though, penultimate Saturday’s home win over fellow relegation battling Aston Villa appeared to mark a resurgence of sorts in his side, last Saturday’s loss to West Ham and Wednesday’s Capital One Cup exit have once again rekindled fears about the current champions’ chances of winning any silverware this season, or even securing a Champions’ League place.

After the loss to Southampton, it looked almost likely that the Chelsea boss would be on his way out of Stamford Bridge, and effectively become the third manager to bite the dust after the sacking of Dick Advocaat of Sunderland and Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool. The usually composed Portuguese went on and on about the unfair treatments constantly meted out to Chelsea by match officials and insisted that he would not resign unless he was fired, maintaining that he was still the best man to lift the club out of their precarious situation. His “first-to-attack” strategy of literally asking the club management to either back him or sack him paid off, as the Chelsea board have since issued a statement reiterating their full support for him and affirming his position as manager of the club.

Mourinho survived that loss…and yet another to high flying West Ham United, but one cannot help but wonder how patient Roman Abramovich will continue to be should Chelsea fail to win their next home game to Liverpool.

The Russian billionaire has in time past been quick to flash his “red card” when Chelsea had looked unlikely to make top four; the unceremonious exit of Felipe Scolari, Andre-Villas Boas and Roberto Di Matteo are cases in point. Feelers have it that the only reason why Mourinho is still being retained as the coach of the Blues is because the Chelsea owner has opted to be cautious about making a hasty decision this time round, considering the manner in which he parted ways acrimoniously with the “Special One” during his first spell at the club. Apart from the veiled threat to his position at his beloved Chelsea, the 52-year-old can’t seem to stay out of trouble and has to contend with unending charges of misconduct against him by the English Football Association. The latest of which could see him face more disciplinary action after being sent to the stands at half- time of Saturday’s loss to the Hammers.

Apart from the much publicised row and subsequent fall out with popular team doctor, Eva Caneiro, which not a few people have blamed Mourinho for, there have been rumours about all not being well in the dressing room, especially regarding the dropping of Skipper John Terry, as well as some senior players for some crucial games, most importantly, their Champions League clash with Porto. But the Chelsea captain and a few other players have refuted this claim.

Nevertheless, what is more worrisome is that Mourinho doesn’t seem to have identified the problem with his team at the moment; a prerequisite for finding a solution to any problem, for how can one solve a problem that he has not identified? Another school of thought which consists of the former Inter Milan, England and Russia manager, Fabio Capello, believes that the Portuguese is usually bereft of ideas during his second season at a club, an opinion I find difficult to agree with given the successful spells the Chelsea coach had both in his first and second seasons at Porto and Chelsea.

Apart from his thorough understanding of the Blues having spent a good number of years with them, his impeccable career achievements as a coach who ranks among the world’s best when it comes to getting results is certainly not in doubt.

Very few managers can boast of Mourinho’s pedigree. The stats speak for him! Which is why he is also regarded by many players, coaches and commentators as one of the greatest and most successful managers in the world. The charismatic Portuguese is one of only five coaches to have won the Champions League with two different teams. Not forgetting the fact that he has won league titles in four different countries!

We seem to have forgotten so soon that just five months ago, this man spectacularly delivered his third Premier League title for Chelsea. At this stage last year, Chelsea were not only unbeaten, but had an 80 per cent win ratio. There are still 28 games to be played this season and I believe that if anyone can lift Chelsea out of the doldrums of directionless despair that they have found themselves, it is Mourinho. In fact, I would go out on a limb and predict a Champions League spot for Chelsea at the end of the season, even though that would be nothing short of a miracle as history has shown that no team has finished in the top four with fewer than 13 points at this stage of the season.

Quite a number of people also superstitiously opine that Mourinho’s “many sins” have come to find him out; citing his flippant tongue and friction with a couple of people (especially Eva Caneiro and Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger) as reasons for his team’s recent misfortune. For now, I am glad that the controversial Chelsea boss gets to keep his job. Aside from his obvious knack for grinding out results and his unquestionable knowledge of the game, what would the Premier League be without the shenanigans of the “Special One?” I am also not ready to see his rivalry with Wenger fizzle out just yet; an almost certain prospect if Mourinho were to leave Chelsea now.

One thing is sure at the moment; Jose Mourinho needs to calm down, talk less, strategise and find an immediate solution to his faltering side, or he just may be the fourth managerial casualty of the Premier League season sooner than later.

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