Jose Mourinho is the archetypal Marmite type of person, you either love him or you loathe him, there is not much in between.
Jose was unceremoniously dumped by Chelsea a mere seven months after winning his 3rd and Chelsea’s 4th Premier League (Ancelotti having won the other one). The problems at Chelsea started in pre-season, Jose decided to allow his players an extra week off, because he felt they were jaded at the end of the 14/15 season because of the long pre-season.
The players were visibly unfit and lacked sharpness in their lacklustre Community Shield loss to Arsenal in August. The key players Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa all floundered, Costa looking visibly overweight, even mainstays like Ivanovic were putting in alarming performances. Off the pitch Chelsea were unsuccessful in courting John Stones despite the £40m bid. With only three recognised centre-backs Terry, Cahill and Zouma, the inability to prise Stones away was a huge blow.
The only stellar signing Chelsea managed was Pedro from Barcelona at £32m, and there was the highly dubious signing of Radamel Falcao who was anonymous in his year on loan at Man Utd. Chelsea cynics suggested Falcao was only signed because he shared his agent with Jose Mourinho, his ubiquitous compatriot Jorge Mendes.
With hindsight the cynics have been proven right with Falcao’s disastrous contribution of a single Premier League goal in blue in five long months of a £180k a week salary.
The only other signing, Baba Rahman, the £17.5m left-back from Augsburg has not forced his way into the team with Mourinho preferring the right-back Azpilicueta taking the left-back berth. Much like Felipe Luiz before him, Rahman has not looked like a Chelsea calibre player.
Chelsea were also unfortunate that the colossus Thibaut Courtois was firstly suspended and then injured and missed 9 Premier League games through October and November. The understudy Begovic is no doubt a top goal keeper, but he is not in the class of Courtois.
John Terry’s performances at the same time, seemed to fall off a cliff, from being arguably the best centre-back in the League last year he has been a shadow of himself. Much like stalwarts Gary Neville who chose to retire on New Years Day 2011, (rather than wait till the end of the season), and Jamie Carragher, the legs go rapidly at 34/35 and you feel Terry will go the same way.
Marc Wilmotts the national Belgian coach waded into the mix with his comments that “Eden Hazard will burn out under Mourinho.” This seems to have planted the seeds of discord between Hazard and Mourinho, with Hazard believing Mourinho’s insistence on extensive defensive duties was curtailing his creative edge.
The other members of the creative quartet have all struggled. Oscar, Fabregas and Willian seem to have been blunted by their excessive defensive, closing down duties; 90% of Willian’s goals have significantly been from set pieces, and Willian is their 2nd highest Premier League scorer with two, Diego Costa has a mere three Premier League goals in five months.
Hazard also felt scapegoated in the Dr Eva Caneiro fiasco. The players, Hazard intimated, were instructed to go down by Mourinho in the dying minutes to waste time and break the momentum of the opposition to kill the game. Hazard signalled to request the medics John Fearn and Eva Carneiro on to the pitch versus Swansea when the game was 2-2 in the 92nd minute in the 1st Premier League game on the 8th of August.
Hazard legitimately felt aggrieved he had been sucked into the unsavoury fiasco, and Jose Mourinho regrettably made a huge issue of it in the post match press conference saying “even non-football people know if Hazard comes off we are down to 9 men” (as Courtois had been sent off). Mourinho subsequently relieved Dr Carneiro and John Fearn of their match day duties and promoted the training ground doctor and physio to match day duties.
This incident was undoubtedly the original cause of “the discord between the players and the manager” the Chelsea Director Michael Emenalo used to explain the dismissal of Mourinho on Chelsea TV. The language used by Mourinho in his press conference after the loss away to Leicester of “feeling betrayed by his players” in that lacklustre performance undeniably increased the haste of Abramovich’s decision.
Mourinho’s modus operandi of the siege mentality used so effectively by Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have been dispensed with. The special one used the “them against us” so effectively at Inter Milan to win the treble. However he chose to throw the players under the bus on this occasion using words such as “betraying our work on the training ground.” There was a distinct feeling with Jose’s media intelligence and specific use of vocabulary he wanted to bail out of Chelsea at that point.
Jose has jettisoned a succession of promising young talent Lukaku, Schurlle, DeBruyne, Salah, Cuadrado, all of whom have had significant subsequent success post Chelsea scoring a total of 34 goals this season alone. The impatience of these decisions has undoubtedly come home to roost.
Jose felt betrayed by his players, he felt betrayed by the boards inability to secure the likes of John Stones, and he was utterly frustrated by the players’ mental fragility. In Mourinho’s defence his father is gravely ill, and this may well have added to the melting pot of emotions he has felt of late.
Jose is a winner, but the appetite of “win at all costs”, poking the dearly departed Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova in the eye, the insinuation by Hazard that they were instructed to feign injury, the lack of faith in the Youth, Nathan Ake, Loftus-Cheek all contributed to his fate. Much like Liverpool and FSG have shown with consecutive media savvy managers Rodgers and Klopp, the image of the club usurps the “win at all costs” mentality in this day and age.
Demba Ba gave an instructive interview to the France Football website, and he said Jose Mourinho “mentally exhausts his players leading to a burn out in year 3 or 4.”
The wonder now is whether Manchester United will go through the same process Chelsea have had as have Real Madrid and Inter Milan before them of three years of success ending venomously and acrimoniously under Mourinho.
Sir Bobby Charlton has rejected Mourinho previously post-Fergie for this very reason of the resulting toxicity, and damage to the image of the club, and the short-termism of his success.