Who could have predicted that, after 5 games into the season, Chelsea lead by Mourinho will be just two points above the relegation zone, with the worst defence in the league? And Arsenal are up next! With Wenger’s men hoping to repeat their Community Shield performance and Chelsea trying to avoid another shameful lose in what will be undoubtedly the match of the weekend follow the live coverage of the match here.
It’s the third season in his second reign at Stamford Bridge for the former Real Madrid manager. A popular opinion says, that as the second season in each club is very successful for the Portuguese, the third is usually a nightmare and is supposed to be the explanation for The Blues current crisis.
Let’s see if the opinion is right. The first club where The Special One spent two seasons was Porto. After winning the UEFA Cup final with Martin O’Neil’s Celtic in May 2003, the champions of the Primeira Liga started the season in an effective style, getting 13 out of 15 points in their opening five games. So the start of second spell at Porto wasn’t bad.
Season 2006/2007 was his third at the Bridge during the first episode in the club. Although he lost the Community Shield against Liverpool in Cardiff, his team started pretty strongly in the first five games, winning four times. The only loss of point’s was at Riverside Stadium with Gareth Southgate’s Middlesborough, where the host came from behind and won thanks to goals from Emanuel Pogatetz and Mark Viduka.
It was Mourinho’s fourth campaign at Chelsea where it all went wrong – only one win in the opening six games and a boring draw in front of a half empty stadium with Rosenborg in the Champions League meant that on the 20th of September 2007 Roman Abramovich decided to make a change at the managerial seat.
He didn’t have a third year at Inter Milan as he left for Real Madrid after defeating van Gaal’s Bayern at the Bernabeu in the Champions League final. It was after the European championship in Poland and Ukraine when his third and final year in Madrid started. He managed to win against Barcelona in the Spanish Supercup and against Mancini’s Manchester City in the Champions League, but the opening five La Liga games brought only two wins.
Looking at this data one can’t really say, that his third seasons were always bad. So not agreeing the other day during the press conference to the statement, that it is so, Jose was in some ways right. But his reaction was very nervous. Probably more nervous than normal.
When asked weeks ago about his bad record with managers that’s name starts with a P, Jose answered in a relaxed way that he might have a bad record with them, but he also wins the treble when his league season starts with a 2:2 draw. Now he made a direct outburst, suggesting to use the google search engine instead of asking ‘stupid questions’.
It might be coincidence, but it seems, that despite saying refugees are under pressure, not him, he is feeling that the situation is not going his way, and that he hasn’t got full control over it.
We start to hear that because of the ‘Carneiro case’ he might have lost control and trust among his players. Throwing out their famous doctor is still one of the strangest moves he has made this season. And one that couldn’t possibly generate any positives to the atmosphere in the dressing room – it could only have negative results and it seems that it has had such ones.
The ambience among the players doesn’t seem to be the same as it used to be. You can’t really spot the unity, strong mentality and togetherness among the players. And these are characteristics that are very common in Mourinho teams when they are at their peak.
Apart from the atmosphere, it’s also the performance on the pitch that is far from the best we’ve seen from his teams. If we’d try to describe Chelsea’s defence in the last season, we’d say it was a solid rock, not easy to break through, being by far the best organised defence in the Premier League.
At the moment The Blues have lost even more goals than Sunderland – a team that’s defence is described as terrible since at least two seasons. Where is the problem? Firstly, it’s a problem with the structure. We saw that at Goodison Park. Everton’s front players, Naismith included, had a lot of space between Chelsea’s formations and there was no aggressive pressure on them. That’s why the Scottish substitute had time and space to score his second goal from outside the penalty area.
Secondly, individual performance in the backs by some players is far from their norm. Ivanovic has had issues in every Premier League game he’s played. Opposite managers have now spotted it and they use it as a weapon against the champions. Also, ex-Barcelona player Cesc Fabregas isn’t helping his team perform on its own half. He is usually set in a centre-midfield of two, next to Nemanja Matic.
But defensively, he isn’t good enough to provide a good cover for the four backs at this position. It’s not by accident, that at times he played as a false nine in Barcelona, because he’s more of an attacking midfielder then a defending one. An interesting fact is that Ivanovic and Fabregas are the most dribbled by players this Premier League season.
Matic and Mikel are typical defensive midfielders, whilst Ramires isn’t really a player who is creative – and you need somebody like that in the centre of the field. This shows how bad the transfer window was for the champions. The choice in the squad isn’t big, and the main line-up is more less the same as it was last season(Pedro the only new one coming in).
Fabregas’ form is on a downfall since the beginning of the year – he hasn’t yet recorded an assist this season and neither a goal. His average number of key passes is 1,6 per game. In comparison Ozil has had an average of 5 per game, Cazorla 4,6; Steven Davis 3,2; and even Jonjo Shelvey 2,8. This shows has much the Spanish international is underperforming.
So far in his career, Mourinho has been famous for selecting and buying players to build a strong team. He has done this yet again during his second spell at the Bridge. But he hasn’t faced the challenge of repairing something that has gone wrong in a team, during his reign. He has a chance now, but it’s probably one of the most challenging tasks in his entire career.