Thursday 8 December 2016

Who has betrayed Jose Mourinho at Chelsea? The verdict

Sean Gibson

Published 15/12/2015 | 16:21

Has Jose Mourinho been betrayed by his Chelsea players?
Has Jose Mourinho been betrayed by his Chelsea players?

As Jose Mourinho found himself mired even deeper in trouble with Chelsea last night after their 2-1 defeat at Leicester, the Portuguese manager made the alarming claim that his players had "betrayed" him.

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In his post-match interview the beleaguered Mourinho said: “I feel my work was betrayed. 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.

With the reigning champions sitting only a point above the relegation zone, something is wrong somewhere with the Blues. But is the manager right, are the players to blame for the club's current malaise?

Eden Hazard

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Hazard went off after half an hour against Leicester with an injury and, whatever the true extent of the damage, Mourinho made it clear that the decision to come off was the player's.

“He made the decision in a few seconds, he was on the floor, he came out (of the game), when he comes out he says he can't do it. A couple of seconds later he says I go to try and when he goes on, two seconds or two steps and immediately he decides to go back [off].”

Hazard has looked a shadow of the player he was last season. There have been rumours of a big falling-out with the manager and it was Hazard's missed penalty that put Chelsea out of the League Cup against Stoke back in October.

He may well have been too injured to continue last night against Leicester, but in a similar situation it is difficult to imagine, say, Jamie Vardy crying off so readily.

In such deep trouble, Chelsea need their big players to assert themselves, but Hazard looks all too happy to retreat.

The verdict, Eden Hazard: GUILTY

Diego Costa

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Mourinho also lamented Diego Costa's persistent poor form this term in his post-match interview.

"I think the lack of confidence of Diego in front of goal is bringing him to other areas,” said Mourinho. “When in front of the goal he is not scoring, he is not fresh minded and critical like he was all of last season, he’s leaving the areas. His movements are almost all of them from the centre to the sides, coming deep."

But can Costa be blamed for trying and failing to be the player he is? Even last season, at the height of his form, it was accepted that Costa's game was simple but effective.

The former Atletico Madrid man remains a difficult opponent, spiky and irksome for defenders no matter those detractors who have begun to tire of his antics.

Costa would hardly be the first striker playing in a struggling side to fall to the temptation of dropping deep, deserting his post on the shoulder of the last man. The urge to contribute something, when neither you nor your teammates are doing all that's required, can pull you even further off-task.

Costa may be in woeful form, often outshone by his substitute Loic Remy, and though he may regularly be at odds with his manager's instructions, he isn't "betraying" Mourinho. As the manager said, it's all about confidence.

Even Costa's mea culpa earlier this year, regarding his poor fitness and poorer form, carried with it a defence of Mourinho.

"You can be selfish and blame it on the manager, but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100 per cent."

The verdict, Diego Costa: NOT GUILTY

Cesar Azpilicueta

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Azpilicueta was not good enough against Leicester. For the two goals he was too off the pace and, given Mahrez's form, it's not like he didn't know what to expect.

That said, no full-back has been able to live with Mahrez this season. What's more, there are fundamental organisational problems in the Chelsea defence for which Azpilicueta is not responsible – and they are contributing a great deal more to Chelsea's poor results than any individual actions.

The verdict, Cesar Azpilicueta: NOT GUILTY

Kurt Zouma

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You rarely get away with ball-watching at any level, but for a player who should have been improving on a championship-winning defence it is nothing other than a crime.

Leicester's first goal is the sort that haunts centre-backs for weeks. Zouma is the man who can see everything in front of him and there is no excuse for not following Vardy on his gambling run.

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That's Kurt there, nodding off at precisely the wrong moment.

Zouma has not been all-bad this season but in terms of last night, when it really mattered most, he failed to stand up and execute exactly what Mourinho insists they were prepared for.

The verdict, Kurt Zouma: GUILTY

John Terry

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John Terry failed his team badly for Leicester's second goal last night.

Chelsea's resident back-four string-puller, Terry orchestrated this shambles in the build-up to Mahrez's goal.

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John Terry is not the athletic specimen he used to be. As he pushes into his mid-thirties what he lacks in his legs he is supposed to make up for in his brain, with his wealth of top-level experience.

In this case, both Matic and Azpilicueta have had the same 'good idea' of covering centre-back Zouma while he is dragged wide, out of position. Unfortunately this leaves Mahrez with time to control the impending cross, get his bearings, work an angle, and score.

This sort of situation is hardly a rarity and it's the sort of thing you would expect John Terry to be able to deal with in his sleep. Mourinho's bewilderment here is understandable and Terry's future with the club is uncertain.

The verdict, John Terry: GUILTY

Branislav Ivanovic

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Since Jefferson Montero tormented him as Swansea claimed a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season, Branislav Ivanovic has been up against it.

The centre-back turned full-back has always felt a slightly unorthodox presence on the right side of Chelsea's defence, making his at-times superb form, both at the back and going forward, all the more pleasant a surprise.

That form has evaporated this season and the Serbian suddenly finds himself in the firing line. Given that Ivanovic has never relied on stereotypically youthful qualities, it feels too simple to attribute his loss in form to the fact that his 32nd birthday is only two months away.

Ivanovic has certainly earned himself some credit with his commitment over the years, Nevertheless, difficult and surprising as it may be to admit, the fact remains that he is not contributing anything towards arresting Chelsea's decline at the minute. Another big player gone missing.

Branislav Ivanovic, the verdict: GUILTY

Willian

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Willian has been a rare shining light in a dark, dark season for the Blues.

His direct free-kicks alone have been a saviour of several matches and if Chelsea are to redeem themselves then it will require a more widespread display of the dynamism and guile that Willian has been putting in all season.

The former Shakhtar midfielder is also a staunch subscriber to the Mourinho method, as he made clear in an interview last month: “I have been learning a lot from the manager. Next year I am going to be three seasons at Chelsea and I have been evolving a lot.

"I have been learning from Mourinho on a daily basis. He is the type of manager that knows when he needs to back up the players, he knows when it is the time to relax and joke around."

Willian, the verdict: NOT GUILTY

Eva Carneiro

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The now-former Chelsea doctor left the club in September after being publicly rebuked by Mourinho for a now-infamous incident involving an injured Eden Hazard on the opening day of the league season.

Carneiro entered the pitch with physio Jon Fearn to treat a clearly distressed Hazard, having been waved on by referee Michael Oliver.

After the controversial incident Carneiro lost her place on the bench and was not allowed to attend training sessions, matches or enter the team hotel.

Mourinho had claimed that both Carneiro and Fearn could both eventually resume their duties despite his angry criticism of them – when he said they were naïve and did not understand football – and indeed Jon Fearn was invited to return to bench duties in October.

The manager is understood to have been further angered when in the immediate aftermath of the initial incident, during the 2-2 draw with Swansea at Stamford Bridge, Carneiro took to the social media network Facebook to express her thanks for the “overwhelming support” she received.

Carneiro is now pursuing a constructive-dismissal claim against Chelsea Football Club and a separate individual claim against Mourinho himself.

The whole affair represents a comprehensive breakdown in communications between the club and Carneiro. With nothing resembling an apology – or an olive branch, or anything contrite at all – emanating from Mourinho's camp, the disagreement rumbles on in court.

Eva Carneiro, the verdict: GUILTY

The fans

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The fans have stood by Mourinho through everything so far this season, chanting his name throughout matches where it was most feared he could lose his job.

Mourinho is the most successful manager in the club's history and has earned a great deal of patiencce and respect among the supporters.

How far his team can stretch this faith remains to be seen.

The fans, the verdict: NOT GUILTY

Roman Abramovich

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Perhaps most importantly, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is yet to betray Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese has got a fantastic record and has had a lot of success with Chelsea; many fans will be pleased to see that this has earned Mourinho some breathing space where other managers would have been made to walk the plank.

However, patiencce is not a virtue in which the Russian businessman has regularly indulged in the past and his record of past managerial sackings at Stamford Bridge does include the current incumbent, who was fired in 2007.

Back then, Mourinho had led the club to six trophies in three seasons and had remained unbeaten at home in the league throughout his tenure. That's a significantly better record than he can boast this time around.

Roman Abramovich, the verdict: NOT GUILTY – yet

Telegraph.co.uk

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