LONDON: Jose Mourinho, after teetering on the brink of dismissal, has finally fallen off the wall at Chelsea for a second time writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
His departure from Stamford Bridge was confirmed in a statement after three days of boardroom discussion led by owner Roman Abramich. More damning, technical director Michael Emenalo, in a rare interview, referred to “palpable discord between manager and players – we had to make a decision.”
The Russian owner has never known a season like it. Champions one season. Fighting for survival the next, one point above the drop zone. Hence Saturday’s home clash with Sunderland being now considered, mischievously, as a ‘relegation six-pointer.’
The Blues’ deserved 2-1 defeat by Premier leaders Leicester on Monday laid bare all their failings under Mourinho this term.
Leicester demonstrated pace, verve, cohesion, confidence, defensive security and attacking penetration. All qualities which Chelsea lacked until, perhaps, desperation took over in the closing minutes.
Mourinho blamed his players, afterwards, for “betrayal.” A strong word which went down badly in a dressing room increasing losing touch with the Special One. Captain John Terry was substituted. Eden Hazard, last season’s Footballer of the Year, dictated his own substitution after an injury.
Abramovich has never been a man to tolerate failure. Ten managers in 10 years have felt the wrath of his impatience. He handed Mourinho a new four-year contract last summer and took the decision to end it after only five months despite the likely cost in terms of both cash and perceptions of judgment.
Even terrace loyalty could not save Mourinho. He had even acknowledged his own embarrassment at receiving such supporter support at a time when results were so awful.
Guus Hiddink was early favourite to take over as caretaker, having proved a successful stand-in previously. Then a long-term replacement will be needed.
Abramovich’s favoured targets have long been Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone with Southampton’s Ronald Koeman and Stoke’s Mark Hughes the best of the Premier rest.
In the meantime, the players may just be starting to appreciate that their own personal values – and even Euro 2016 prospects – are at stake if they do not rally to the revival cause.
As Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas said after the defeat at Leicester: “We all have to take responsibility. If you are a big player and you are paid like a big player, you must play like a big player and behave like a big player.
“I am not saying you can’t have a bad season and bad games. We all have – big players and small players. But the attitude has to always be spot on. We must always be at the top of our games, and the behaviour has to be better than what we are seeing right now from every single Chelsea player.”
He promised fans: “We can bounce back, 100pc. There is enough time to achieve it, but we must start now. It is up to us. We cannot win the Premier League right now, but come on, we all have to do better.
“I just think I want to beat Sunderland, play my best and that’s it. Right now, no one is easy as it shows. We’ve put ourselves in this position so we have to now prove – we really, really, really have to now start winning.”
Too late for Mourinho.