After going from champions to strugglers in just a few months, fans at Chelsea are pulling their hair out as to what’s wrong at Stamford Bridge at this moment in time. The Blues’ 3-1 loss to Southampton last Saturday marked what has been Chelsea’s worst league start in 37 years; with Chelsea currently sitting in 16th place and 10 points behind leaders Manchester City. With this poor start in mind, writer Rhys Jackson suggests an explanation for the chaos.
Chelsea’s home defeat to Southampton over the weekend has brought José Mourinho’s managerial role into serious question. It marked the side’s worst domestic start in 37 years as they slumped to an unfamiliar 16th position in the league, leaving the grandeur of the ‘Special One’ with yet another dent. The Saints’ became the first team to ever score 3 goals at Stamford Bridge under Mourinho’s reign with Steven Davis, Sadio Mané and Graziano Pelle all featuring on the scoresheet. The defeat comes after a 2-1 loss to Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Mourinho has not hesitated to comment on deteriorating matters, labelling the dismal spell as the “worst period” in his otherwise glittering career in the post-match interview. It has led some fans to slate him endemically – his preferred choice of centre-back, Kurt Zouma, to John Terry, who featured in every minute of last season’s title-winning campaign, has not proven popular. This, combined with the continued inclusion of a saliently ageing Branislav Ivanovic, means that the outcome of all this is a nervous looking defence that has so far conceded 17 goals in 8 games – the second-highest in the Premier League after Sunderland. The summer signing of Radamel Falcao seemed a risky prospect, unparalleled to that fellow title challengers Manchester City, who broke the bank to sign Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne respectively. On the other side of Manchester, the signing of Memphis Depay and the signature of the most expensive teenager in football history, Anthony Martial, made clear the Red Devils’ intentions for their campaign.
In a weekend that was full of surprises – Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over Manchester United to pip them to second place, Crystal Palace and Leicester City staying near the top of the table and a stellar Sergio Aguero slotting 5 goals past Newcastle, this Premier League season promises to be the most unpredictable yet.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman commented:
We had a difficult start to the game but we came back and we made it 1-1 with a great goal. The difference was how we came out of the dressing room, pressed Chelsea and had fantastic movement. In my opinion, we totally deserve three points.
Is this really the demise of the Special One? Are the cracks starting to show in his previously impenetrable pool of charisma? Could the heavy home defeat to Southampton, which before this season was a rarity under Mourinho, be the final nail in the coffin? He doesn’t seem to think so – in the post-match interview, in which he talks for over 7 minutes in response to a reporter’s question, he stated: “if they sack me, they sack the best manager this club has ever had”. Quite the statement, but one that he is not short on ability to prove right as the season progresses.
And with news just in that Brendan Rodgers has been sacked from Liverpool, the future of Mourinho is anyone’s speculation.