What a meltdown! ….. Following the Southampton loss at home, we realized this was a much bigger problem than we at first feared. The speed and ferocity of our fall from grace sees Jose Mourinho (and if we are honest, the rest of us) wishing hopefully for a Champions League birth in May. This is not just the result of some complacency following our Premiership winning season……. Jose is to blame for the majority of the mess, due to some very questionable and in some cases, very stupid actions, compounded by the arrogance to fix it his way……….. This is why we love him , but also he appears to be his own worst enemy at the moment. Having said that, I feel we should be backing him to the hilt, as long as he adjusts his behavior to match the situation……. he needs to learn quickly from his mistakes, he is not used to making many , he already admits this is a new experience for him in his career..
Let’s discuss where he went wrong and then suggest a few pointers to maybe turn it around.
- It all started with a poor Pre-season. Too short a schedule and it was treated more like a victory parade for the Premmy trophy than a serious exercise in testing new strategies in order to retain our competitive edge. In some ways you can understand how giving our U.S fan base a chance to show its appreciation meant the euphoria was still going on in August and the players wallowed in it. We live and learn.
- Jose’s awful treatment of Eva Carneiro. This reminded me of the John Terry and then Obi-Mikel poor PR following our Champions League win in 2012. No sooner had we endeared ourselves to the footballing masses with our superb on-pitch actions , that we then completely destroyed our goodwill with horrendous off- pitch antics. This meant Chelsea fans had to suffer embarrassment of those actions rather than reveling in being Champions…… Deja-vu I’m afraid. I’m sure this caused many players to question Jose’s behavior and create a sour taste in the dressing room.
- The speed with which Jose benched John Terry. We all expected this season to see the beginning of JT’s “phasing out”. Although the time it took for him to go from hero to zero seemed to be a knee jerk. It almost felt like Mourinho was just waiting for any opportunity to go to plan B. Unfortunately our manager didn’t realize the gaping hole in leadership that move would create. With Drogba and Lampard no longer around to pick up that slack, he turned to Ivanovich, which was a mistake of huge proportions. Branislav is no doubt deserving of Chelsea folklore for his service to the club and a critical reason we have the silverware in the cabinet. That does not mean he should be made our leader, he is not that type of character.
- Tinkering too much. Our best team from last year, should have been our first choice team at the beginning of this campaign. Courtois, Ivanovich, Terry , Cahill, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Oscar, Hazard,Willian, Costa. Which was the case for 30 mins against Swansea in our opener, where we looked great, until Courtois was sent off …..Injuries/Suspension have forced some changes Pedro for Oscar, Begovic for Courtois, Remy for Costa….. but Ramires/Loftus-Cheek/Mikel/Zouma/Falcao have all played too much football this season as Jose has tried find the quick fix rather than stick to his winners…… I’m sure that has had an adverse effect on the “A” team as they felt “dumped”. So when Jose decided to tinker back to the Original lot again , they had the stuffing taken out of them ……….
How can we turn this around?
- Make Cesc Fabregas Vice Captain. Rather than drop Ivanovich, I would just explain to him that he is not going to inherit JT’s Captain’s armband and therefore it was a big mistake making him Vice Captain. Arsene Wenger made Cesc one of Arsenal’s youngest Captains and he looked the part. Also his playing form improved with the added responsibility (unlike Ivanovich).
- Lay down the law to Diego Costa. Concentrate on scoring goals. He looked much improved against Porto, he behaved himself too!! So I don’t buy that be needs to be a playground bully or his game suffers!
- Stop laying the blame at the feet of Referees. It belittles our brand is off the mark too. Simply put, we certainly have not had the rub of the green so far this season, but that changes quickly, especially when you start making your own luck by being smarter.
- Play Oscar/Hazard/Willian at every opportunity, they are our best chance of returning to form.
- Apologize to Matic in front of the rest of the squad. I don’t care what Jose says, “subbing the sub” was a huge insult and needs to be addressed.
We are still in the early days of the season, if we manage to turn it around in the short term , we may not need to finish 4th to qualify for next seasons Champions League!!!!