Wednesday 26 July 2017

Kevin Palmer: Chelsea should break with tradition and stick with Mourinho

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
Jonathan Walters scores against Chelsea
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

AFTER Chelsea’s desperate, disastrous, miserable season hit rock bottom with a Capital One Cup defeat at Stoke, those in positions of power at Stamford Bridge should hold their nerve and back beleaguered manager Jose Mourinho.

That argument may not be promoted with too much gusto in the media over the next few days and there is a strong possibility that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will fire the most celebrated manager who has ever managed their club and yet caution may well be the prudent course of action for the Blues right now.

Okay, Mourinho’s behaviour in recent weeks has been ugly and immature, but you have to stand by a manager who has done so much to confirm his brilliance of the last decade and more. You have to believe he can find a way out of this mess. You have to right?

It was somewhat inevitable that Eden Hazard would be the player who would miss the tenth and decisive penalty of a shoot-out that followed a compelling cup tie that featured a stunning goal from Republic of Ireland striker Jonathan Walters and an injury time leveller from Loic Remy.

Read more: Jon Walters on target as holders Chelsea dumped out of Capital One Cup

After all, Hazard’s fall from grace this season has symbolised Chelsea’s unfathomable slide and as he missed the tenth and final spot kick of a dramatic penalty shoot-out, his despair was there was all to see.

Jonathan Walters celebrates scoring against Chelsea
Jonathan Walters celebrates scoring against Chelsea
Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri (left) embraces Chelsea's Eden Hazard following the Capital One Cup, Fourth Round match at The Britannia Stadium
Stoke City players celebrate winning the penalty shoot-out against Chelsea

This slump is hurting Chelsea’s players as much as their manager and their improved performance at the Britannia Stadium probably deserved more than they ultimately got, yet that is the story of Mourinho’s season so far.

There is nothing left to go wrong for a shattered Chelsea team and now we await the verdict on whether Mourinho will still be in charge for Saturday’s game against Liverpool.

Make no mistake, this is ground zero for Mourinho. He has never experienced anything like this and you wonder whether his owner will appreciate that this is not the moment to lance the trouble maker, even if the rumours are true and he is lining up Pep Guardiola to become Chelsea manager next summer.

It is the speed of this Mourinho crisis that has taken the breath away. Back on August 7th, the club that has become notorious for sacking managers on a whim looked set to break the mould as they handed boss Mourinho a £30m four-year contract that appeared to introduce stability into their make-up for the first time since Roman Abramovich became Chelsea owner in 2003.

Now, just 15 traumatic games later, Chelsea are facing up to a run of results that has seen them defeated SEVEN times and lose their grip on everything that mattered to them.

Their aura is shattered, the manager has been humanised and their future is no in the hands of an owner who has never promoted patience in times of crisis before.

Mourinho has never been closer to the sack than he is right now and yet this should be the moment when Abramovich takes his special one aside and assures him that he will not be fired after a few weeks of failure.

The 12 years of glorious success he has on his C.V. confirm that Mourinho is a manager of resounding clout, a champion in four countries and a Champions League winner on two occasions. Is there really anyone better out there who can take over Chelsea now, despite the chaos he appears to be unable to halt right now?

Unless Abramovich is willing to rock up at Carlo Ancelotti’s door with a home-made Russian humble pie and beg him to return to the club that sacked him so ruthlessly in 2011, there are not shining managerial stars available for Chelsea to hire right now and that is one of many reason why Mourinho should be given time to find a solution.

Paying off a manager who would be entitled to a world-record breaking compensation packing would also be unwelcome, while there are flickering signs that the Chelsea of last season are starting to bubble back to the surface despite their newly found obsession with losing matches.

In defeat at West Ham last Saturday and again against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, Chelsea confirmed that the class the exuded on their march to the Premier League title last season could be within touching distance if they find some confidence and rediscover a cutting edge in front of goal.

"A few months ago I won a few matches and I was champion. People were saying there are things more important than results,” stated Mourinho as he reflected on his latest defeat.

“Now, people say results are the most important thing. It's a contradiction.

“What the players did tonight is face some people that write and speak, and said: "You are stupid".

“What some people write and say is really bad for the players. Maybe they think my players are like them when they were players. My players don't do that, they tried everything.

“If anyone saw the second half the other day, playing with 10 men the way they did, it's a lack of respect for the players.”

An injury to lead striker Diego Costa against Stoke completed their miserable night and if Mourinho is still in place by the time Liverpool come to Stamford Bridge this Saturday, the pressure pounding down on this serial winner will never have been more acute.

Any suggestion that Mourinho should be given time to regenerate his Chelsea dream could be overtaken by events in the next couple of days, yet it is an alternative plan for Abramovich, chairman Bruce Buck and the influential duo of Marina Granovskaia and Michael Emenalo – both of whom are close allies of the Blues owner – need to consider.

Getting rid of managers has been all too easy for Abramovich down the years, yet this is no ordinary manager in the midst of the most desperate run of results in his career.

Maybe, for once, Chelsea’s owner should hold his fire when everyone expects him to pull the trigger.

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