With next weekend in European football dedicated to international play, we turn our attention to a club whose fortune has suffered a downturn this season. Their core players and manager are the same as when they won the league title with ease last season, yet the results have been quite different. Let’s take a closer look at what’s become of Chelsea FC.
Chelsea won the EPL title by eight points over their nearest rival Manchester City in their 2014-15 campaign. The Blues had only three losses in 38 games during a season that had several possible contenders to the throne. With a solid core of players in place, it was thought that Chelsea would continue their domination in the EPL and success in other Cup play as well.
Fast forward to the 2015-2016 season, and Chelsea is languishing in 16th place, only a few points away from the relegation zone. The team has garnered an anemic 11 points in their first 12 matches with seven losses. For the first time in EPL history, a defending champion has lost seven of their first 12 matches. While there have been players like Diego Costa that have shown some undisciplined play this season, many have pointed the finger firmly at manager Jose Mourinho.
While this is Mourinho’s second time at the helm for the Blues, he has found success with some of the top clubs in Europe, notably Benfica, FC Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Never being short of confidence, he has anointed himself “the special one” since 2004 during his first run with Chelsea.
However, with the players largely in tact from Chelsea’s championship-winning campaign, many are taking a hard look at the manager and whether he is at least partly responsible for the poor play of his team. It also appears that Mr. Mourinho’s temperament has kept pace with his team’s play. He has spent part of the season away from the bench, due to a suspension by the English FA Rules and Regulations Committee, for his lack of respect shown towards the referees. He has also been fined $60,000 for his tirades during and after the matches. While his words cannot be included here, suffice it to say that there was nothing “special” about what he has said.
Mourinho signed a four-year contract extension during this past summer for an estimated $60 million. Should the “special one” be shown the door, Chelsea would owe their special manager a very special amount of money. But it seems that Chelsea is languishing under Mourinho, and given their current array of talented players, to say that they are underperforming as a team is an understatement. Given their current situation, owner Roman Abramovich might have to part with some of his estimated $12.8 billion net worth and seek another manager. Many believe that Mourinho is vying for the Manchester United post that current manager Louis van Gaal will likely be vacating by the summer of 2016. Currently Sky Bet has Carlo Ancelotti listed to be the next Chelsea manager with 7/2 odds.
While much of the season remains and Chelsea can still regain their form and finish in the top half of the EPL table, both Chelsea supporters and management would find such a finish disappointing and underachieving. Saturday saw Stoke City beat Chelsea at Britannia Stadium for the second time in ten days. The first time served to knock Chelsea out of competition for the England FA Cup. It would come to no one’s surprise to see the second loss against Stoke City on Saturday as the final nail in the coffin leading to a permanent end of the Mourinho era at Chelsea.