Thursday 27 October 2016

Is Jose Mourinho to blame for all of Chelsea's woes?

Stamford Bridge has been beset by problems this season, but how many of them can be attributed to their under-pressure manager?

Published 28/10/2015 | 10:15

Is the under-fire manager to blame for all of Chelsea's problems this term? We look at the key issues.

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Of all the fights Mourinho has picked this season - and there have been plenty of them - this always looked the most needless and, frankly, unwinnable.

The nuances of Carneiro's departure from Chelsea following her public rebuke from Mourinho for treating Eden Hazard on the pitch in the season's opening game against Swansea are the subject of contention but the backlash generated from medical professionals, who claimed that Carneiro and her fellow physio Jon Fearn were being punished for simply doing their jobs, and equality campaigners who detected - rightly or wrongly - a whiff of sexism to the affair, meant it was deeply damaging from a PR perspective.

Is Mourinho to blame? Yes


The slump in form of Chelsea's key player last season has been as curious as it has been dramatic. The rampaging attacking force whose quicksilver feet and razor-sharp brain could slice through defences at will last year has looked callow and crestfallen for much of this campaign, which has yet to yield a goal for his club.

Mourinho cannot take all the blame - ultimately a player of Hazard's seniority must be the master of his own performances - but his handling of the player has occasionally looked clumsy. His decision to drop him against Aston Villa and publicly question his work rate - a recurring theme of his - seemed heavy-handed. Hazard did look perkier in the Capital One Cup against Stoke, even if he did miss the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.

Is Mourinho to blame? Partly


The second half of Chelsea's title-winning campaign was constructed on the rock-solid base provided by their back four. Yet the side that conceded just 0.84 goals per game last year now averages 1.9 and is riddled with uncertainty.

At times, Mourinho has changed too often - his decision to take off John Terry during the defeat at Manchester City was strange, and inflammatory; at others, he has changed too little, persisting with the hopelessly out-of-form Branislav Ivanovic despite having a new £17million full-back in Baba Rahman sitting on the bench.

Mourinho cannot be blamed for the injury which has sidelined goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, or individual mistakes, but ultimately Chelsea's lack of organisation falls under his remit.

Is Mourinho to blame? Yes


In an unusually example of a Premier League footballer offering a full and frank appraisal of his own shortcomings, Diego Costa recently admitted that he had returned to training at Chelsea overweight, which had subsequently prevented him making a faster start to the season.

Mourinho clearly cannot be held accountable for his players over-indulging in the close season, but his decision to only bring them back into Cobham to start their summer work on July 14 - the latest he had ever started pre-season, and up to two weeks later than some of his Premier League rivals - continues to baffle.

Maybe it was designed to off-set fatigue at the sharp end of the season, and so bring rewards in Europe; maybe it was recognition that too many of his players were operating in the dreaded 'red zone' which yields injuries; or perhaps it was just complacency.

Whatever the reason, it has backfired, with Chelsea looking sluggish far too often.

Is Mourinho to blame? Yes


Chelsea endured a disastrous summer transfer window, losing one of their most respected and charismatic players in goalkeeper Petr Cech and failing to make a single marquee purchase to bolster what was already a relatively thin squad - or certainly thin by the standards of a club wanting to challenge on multiple fronts.

Some signings were baffling (Radamel Falcao has looked exactly what he looked last season at Manchester United, a striker whose career has been crippled by a horrible knee injury); some inappropriate (when Chelsea desperately needed experienced cover in defence, they signed Michael Hector, a 23-year-old Championship player); and others simply deflating (Pedro, after a bright start, has disappointed).

Yet these are not problems caused by Mourinho; instead, the focus must fall on Michael Emenalo and Marina Granovskaia, who assume overall control of transfers at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho's willful blanking of players such as Rahman and Papy Djilobodji would appear to betray his true feelings.

Is Mourinho to blame? No


Chelsea's glitziest signing in the summer of 2014 did as much as anyone to propel them towards the title, and was the Premier League's outstanding creator in the first half of the season.

But Fabregas' form has been in decline since the turn of the year and nobody - not the player, not Mourinho or his backroom staff - appears to have found a way of arresting it. Maybe Mourinho should have shown more creativity in his efforts to restore Fabregas to his finest form - offering more time off, more public backing, or deploying him further up the field so his defensive frailties were not so readily exposed - but ultimately this cannot be pinned on him alone.

Is Mourinho to blame? Partly


Attacking officials has always been a key weapon in the Mourinho armoury, but this season he has taken the tactic to new extremes.

Barely a week has gone by without referees being made the subject of Mourinho's ire, with Robert Madley, Jon Moss, Craig Pawson and Damir Skomina all coming in for ferocious criticism at various times. Mourinho is hardly alone in scapegoating officials, but his decision to do so repeatedly and in such inflammatory terms means that he now simply comes across as bitter and blind to his own failings.

His parroting of the "weak and naive" mantra - in a coded dig at Arsene Wenger, who managed to avoid an FA charge despite using the phrase to describe Mike Dean - has also grown increasingly tiresome.

Is Mourinho to blame? Yes

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