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article imageChelsea and Jose Mourinho fail to resolve short term reputation

By Tyrrell Meertins     Dec 18, 2015 in Sports
Sometimes its better not come back. Jose Mourinho learned the hard way when his romantic return to Chelsea came to a sudden conclusion Thursday afternoon, with the club and manager parting ways mutually.
Club technical director, Michael Emenalo, described Mourinho’s departure to be a “palpable discord with the players,” as the most successful manager to grace Stamford Bridge was kicked to the curb for the second time this decade.
This time, however, it was expected.
Mourinho sealed his fate following Monday’s 2-1 loss to Leicester City, when he publicly turned on his players, questioning their worth and overall commitment to the club.
“I feel my work was betrayed,” said Mourinho. “I worked four days on this match, I prepared everything related to the opponent, I identified four movements where they score almost every one of their goals.
“My players got all that information in training in the last three days and in four types of situations that I identified, they conceded the first and the second goals.”
“Sometimes, I find myself thinking that last season I did an amazing job and I brought players to a level that is not their level and if this is true, I brought them to such a level that they couldn’t keep it up for more than the super motivation to be leader and almost champions.”
Perhaps Mourinho was right.
Nine league losses in December doesn’t represent the form of defending champions, and with the club sitting a mere solitary point above the relegation zone, Chelsea’s top four aspirations were slowly slipping away. They had become the laughing stocks of European football that provided no signs of recovery.
But it wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Upon Mourinho’s return, he declared himself the ‘Happy One’, but his final five months at the club was contrasting. His public attack on the medical staff following an opening day draw to Swansea, combined with weekly rants against league officials left a dismayed taste in the mouths of the board and some of his players, and it could no longer continue under Roman Abramovich’s watch.
Mourinho isn’t perfect, and in a season so significant to the growth of his career — third year syndrome has been the topic of discussion with every Chelsea loss — the Portuguese manager was let down by the board and his players. Yet from the moment Mourinho’s return was announced, three years ago, nothing but desperation loomed in the air.
Chelsea missed out on the Pep Guardiola sweepstakes, and were Europa League champions under interim manager Rafa Benitez. Mourinho, on the other hand, was snubbed by Manchester United, and sacked by former suitors Real Madrid.
They were both at some cross-roads, yet in desperate need of a reliable partner to return amongst the elite. A chance to rectify the political issues between Mourinho and the board was available, and both parties felt that together they could reach the heights set a decade prior.
Frankly, it was a chance to move forward. For over a decade Mourinho and Chelsea epitomized the ‘short-term’ of world football, but this was the opportunity for change. The opportunity to build a dynasty that would dominate English football in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era was — and still is — available, and with the former Manchester United manager retired, it was Mourinho’s chance to further enhance his legacy.
Even without a competent recognized striker and creative outlet in midfield, Chelsea came within touching distance of winning the league and made a Champion’s League semi-final appearance, in Mourinho’s initial season. Last year, the Blues were sensational until New Year’s Day, as they steamrolled past every challenge they encountered.
Yet, when things went amidst, Mourinho leaned towards reactive football to secure his third league crown in five seasons with the club. It appeared that Mourinho was hear to stay. Chelsea displayed the defensive solidity Mourinho was renowned for, and the wizardry and creativity from players like Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas provided a template for the future.
It was the continuity and stability that the club and Mourinho desired. This was a young core with the potential to surpass the achievements set in Mourinho’s first stint. They were supposed to continue their development and improve as players, but the stagnation that’s taken place since claiming the Premier League has been staggering
“We started building a team for the next decade and this season was the beginning of that,” said Mourinho at the end of last season.
“We like the players and we are happy with the players,' he said. 'Two or three are always coming to the club - that's normal - but the most important thing in the market is not to lose players.”
Chelsea win their fifth Premier League title
Chelsea win their fifth Premier League title
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The post-season Asia tour was poorly scheduled due to Chelsea’s exerting season, where Mourinho was reluctant to rotate. But with Chelsea displaying signs of vulnerability in the second half of the season both domestically and in Europe, it was evident the Blues required additional signings.
An additional striker was requested to provide competition for Diego Costa, while the club failed to land targets such as Arda Turan, Paul Pogba, and John Stones. The proactive transfer business that was pivotal to Chelsea’s title-winning campaign failed to be replicated, and the club settled for the likes of Radamel Falcao, Pedro Rodriguez, and Asmir Begovic — options that improved depth but not the overall XI.
In the process, Filipe Luis returned to Atletico Madrid, Juventus snagged Juan Cuadrado on a season-loan, Didier Drogba moved to Major League Soccer, and Petr Cech was sold to Arsenal. All the sold players would help Chelsea in their current state, but it was Cech’s departure that burned Mourinho the most, with the manager publicly stating it wasn’t his decision to sell the keeper to a rival.
The club lost leaders, depth, and the opportunity to strengthen a squad that possessed quite a few flaws. Oddly, with a fairly unchanged XI, Mourinho reverted back to the expansive football that was exploited by Spurs at the turn of the year. Inferior sides no longer feared attacking Chelsea, and with several players lacking match fitness, and a midfield desperately lacking dynamism, the Blues struggled.
He dropped players, altered systems, publicly questioned their form, and even turned to the youth, but nothing worked. Mourinho’s frustration with the board may have even inspired the Portuguese to highlight the club’s deficiencies playing attacking football — it wouldn’t be the first time utilized his starting XI as a cry for help.
But there was a clear divide between Mourinho and the players that couldn’t be overlooked. Chelsea’s form wasn’t entirely poor, but they were not performing at the level of a top four team. The attack was clueless in the final third, constantly playing sideways passes, whereas the defence was guilty of weekly defensive and mental lapses.
They didn’t possess the traits of a standard Mourinho team — devastating on the counter and defensively organized — because they were missing the required pieces. There were no leaders, no power in midfield, and no match-winners. Throughout Mourinho’s second stint, they simply lacked a killer instinct.
“I don’t think anyone can speak highly enough of him and it’s great to have him back in the Premier League. You’d run through brick walls for him and all the lads loved him,” said former Chelsea winger Damien Duff.
“As a coach, he was amazing in his decision-making and picking the right teams at the right times. He just ticks every box and that’s why he’s the best in the world.”
Even at Mourinho’s darkest moments during his first stint at Chelsea or Real Madrid, he could rely on the experience of key players to guide his side through matches. At Chelsea, he had a young, powerful core that wanted to be winners as badly at Mourinho.
Frankly, it was the winning DNA in players like Drogba, Terry, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, that ultimately guided Chelsea through eight managers since Abramovich’s purchase of the club. The desperation to win and siege-mentality instilled by Mourinho ensured Chelsea continued winning during the manager merry-go-round, but those soldiers of the past have now departed, with John Terry being the sole survivor.
The ability to build bonds with players that left nothing but sheer admiration for the Portuguese manager by even the toughest men in the game was remarkable. Images of Marco Matterazzi breaking down into tears following the news of Mourinho’s inevitable departure to Real Madrid illustrates the influence he once had in the dressing room.
But something went wrong. The player revolt that surfaced at Real Madrid, backfired on Mourinho here. The siege-mentality became overbearing, and when Mourinho demanded more from his players, they simply refused to comply.
That’s the difference. This group of players didn’t cope with the adversity and pressure of being champions, whilst fatigue contributed with their inability to physically scrape out victories. When the going got tough, the stars wilted, whereas Diego Costa pursued verbal altercations and petulance opposed to goal-scoring.
Both physically and mentally frail, the current Chelsea squad opted to turn against their manager opposed to fighting against the world like previous teams of the past. Ultimately, it was once again player-power that played a major factor in the sacking of another high-profile manager at Stamford Bridge.
A legitimate winner in the footballing world — a multiple league champion and two-time Champions League winner — that’s still widely regarded as an elite manager, has been sacrificed by a group of players that may never win again.
The proposed attempt to bring longevity to Stamford Bridge only seemed capable under Mourinho, a man who truly cared for a club he developed an inseparable bond with. But where Mourinho may coach another top club next season and return back to winning ways, Chelsea have jeopardized their future once again.
This was a chance for both parties to aid their short-term flaws, but where Mourinho can rectify his reputation by managing another club that will offer him support both financially and from the players, Chelsea have wasted another opportunity to achieve long-term success.
Though Abramovich’s short-term thinking may have worked in the past, the 12-year sack-a-manager cycle has reached a point of no return.
More about Mourinho, Jose mourinho, Chelsea, abRAMOVICH, Stamford Bridge
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