Tuesday 20 March 2018

Chelsea united in determination to climb back up Premier League table

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's future is under the spotlight as his team continues to struggle in the Premier League
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's future is under the spotlight as his team continues to struggle in the Premier League

Chelsea's players remain united in their determination to climb back up the Barclays Premier League table, while the board continue to examine the direction of the team under manager Jose Mourinho.

Following defeat at surprise leaders Leicester on Monday night, the Blues are now just a point above the relegation zone in 16th place.

The defending champions have been beaten nine times already in the Premier League, with hopes of finishing in the top four looking remote at best.

A campaign which began with defeat in the FA Community Shield against Arsenal at Wembley and a lacklustre 2-2 home draw with Swansea has lurched from one drama to another, following the controversy over the treatment of club doctor Eva Carneiro to reported fall-outs with the likes of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.

In the wake of Monday night's latest capitulation, Mourinho said he felt his "work was betrayed" by the players not following directions on how to nullify the Foxes' attack, with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez both on target in the 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium.

Earlier this season, in October, Chelsea took the unprecedented step of issuing a statement of the club's "full support" behind Mourinho, but accepted "results have not been good enough and the team's performances must improve".

The Portuguese coach, though, has now presided over the west London club's worst start to a season since 1978, at the end of which they were relegated.

Owner Roman Abramovich continues to hold regular conversations with the board, chairman Bruce Buck, directors Marina Granovskaia and Eugene Tenenbaum as well as Chelsea's technical director Michael Emenalo over the best course of action to arrest the team's alarming slump in form.

There was, though, no emergency meeting scheduled for Wednesday, when the club's position was unchanged as Mourinho took training at Cobham after the squad were back from a day off.

Mourinho, who returned to take charge at Stamford Bridge in 2013, penned a new four-year deal in the summer and despite the team's domestic problems, did secure qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League where Chelsea will play Paris St Germain again.

Should Chelsea decide to make a change, then it is understood the terms of any severance package would be likely to follow previous models where the former manager would continue to be paid until he found another job or to the end of the contract period, which was an option taken up by Roberto Di Matteo following his departure in November 2012.

The likes of Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte, as well as former Tottenham manager Juande Ramos have all been touted as potential successors, although an interim appointment would perhaps be more likely as a stop-gap until the end of the season, with options such as former managers Carlo Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink.

Should results go against Chelsea this weekend, then the west London club could end up in the bottom three for Christmas.

Defender Gary Cahill, though, maintains the players have what it takes to pull themselves clear of becoming embroiled in a relegation dogfight.

"Last season was fantastic, this season has been tough, but we're looking to turn that around. We're working hard to make things right," Cahill said in the official Chelsea magazine.

"Not every single minute of your career will go well, individually and collectively, and not every season will go how you want it to, but it's how you react to that.

"When things aren't going well, you work even harder and look for a reaction. I'm sure we'll turn it around."

Midfielder Nemanja Matic echoed Cahill's determination for a positive second half of the campaign.

"I cannot explain why consistency has been so difficult to achieve," he said on the club's official website.

"We are sad because of the defeat (to Leicester), but we have to keep going, to try to win some games and to recover from this situation which is not easy for us.

"We have to try to be better than we were."

Press Association

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