Jose Mourinho on brink after Stoke defeat
Chelsea have tried everything to halt their slump. Well, almost everything. After last night's 1-0 defeat at Stoke, Roman Abramovich may now decide the time has come to act.
The Chelsea fans chanted Jose Mourinho's name at the end of the match but while their support will be a factor, the champions are now three points above the relegation zone with almost a third of the season gone. The owner is unlikely to be consoled by the observation that Chelsea are surely too good to go down.
It's the first time since October 1999 that Chelsea have lost three Premier League games in a row.
If Mourinho had been here he would have railed at the injustice in the end when Loic Remy was denied a penalty, in part through his own honesty when he didn't go down, but tried to avoid the challenge of Jack Butland.
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"Credit to him," Stoke's manager Mark Hughes said later. "He could have been cynical and a penalty would probably have been given."
Chelsea could still have been awarded a penalty but Mourinho, in the privacy of the hotel where he was reportedly watching the game, might have cursed Remy's failure to go down. Others might think it fitting that his Chelsea career may have ended with an act of honesty from one of his players.
Chelsea can take heart from their performance again but Mourinho's career has been built on dismissing every aspect of a performance except victory. Chelsea have won three league games this season.
Some wondered if the disaffected players would respond to Jose Mourinho's stadium ban last night but instead Chelsea lost again even if it was a display which would offer some encouragement to those who believe Mourinho deserves to stay.
Hughes acknowledged that Chelsea had played well without causing the home side too many problems. His side had played well too and once Marko Arnautovic volleyed them into the lead, there was something inevitable about what followed.
Mourinho may still be given time to fix the problems, although, given that many of the problems are said to stem from his personality, it is hard to see how Mourinho can fix them without changing himself and that seems unlikely.
The support shown by Chelsea supporters to the manager last night and during the game against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday night may make Abramovich pause.
The club's experience when Rafael Benitez was hounded by Chelsea supporters during his time as interim manager has not been forgotten. Abramovich won't be able to replace the most successful manager in the club's history without providing a replacement who would silence the loyalists. Yet doing nothing is a gamble too.
Chelsea went close to scoring and they played with an intensity lacking last week against Liverpool but Diego Costa scowled through the game and at one point tangled with a steward who was said last night to have reported the incident when Costa allegedly trod on his foot to the referee. Chelsea said the claim was "nonsense".
It looked like a trivial incident. It won't figure high on Chelsea's list of problems which appears endless even if they all seem to revolve around one man.
Sunday Indo Sport