Monday 22 January 2018

From 'Special One' to 'Happy One' to 'Sacked One' -the downfall of Jose Mourinho

Chelsea have parted ways with Jose Mourinho for a second time
Chelsea have parted ways with Jose Mourinho for a second time

Mark Staniforth

When Jose Mourinho swept back into Stamford Bridge to begin his second spell in charge in June 2013, he proclaimed himself "the happy one".

It was a revealing statement from a manager whose previous reign - not to mention those ensuing stints at Inter Milan and Real Madrid - had gone hand-in-hand with bombast.

It presented a shift in focus from the bullish, arrogant 'Special One' proclamation and suggested Mourinho might have mellowed with age, content at having come to the conclusion that Chelsea was his spiritual home.

Despite a trophyless first season, there were few signs of that "specialness" departing completely. With champions Manchester City splashing the cash, the pressure was off Mourinho as he set about re-shaping his squad.

Summer additions of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas further suggested Mourinho had not lost his magic - they shaped a title charge that saw their side beaten only once in the league, and earned the Portuguese a lucrative new four-year contract.

Hindsight, however, suggests all was not well. Bradford's sensational FA Cup fourth-round win at Stamford Bridge in January 2015 can be put down to a one-off event, but it is almost inconceivable it could have happened in Mourinho's first spell in charge.

The talismans who shaped that dominant era were in evident decline - Frank Lampard and Petr Cech were gone, the previously dependable John Terry starting to show his age.

Nevertheless, winning the Premier League with three games to spare is not something to be sniggered at, and those small indications of trouble to follow were washed over as Mourinho and his players soaked up the deserved acclaim.

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Those forensically inclined to determine the start of Mourinho's decline at Stamford Bridge may hunt back as far as the Bradford game for clues, but there can no denying the rot really started to set in in the early stages of the Eva Carneiro affair.

It it is too tempting to suggest that the unseemly row sparked by Mourinho's reaction to his club doctor racing on to the pitch to treat Eden Hazard during the 2-2 draw with Swansea on the opening day of the season marked the beginning of the end.

But equally, there can be no disputing that the fall-out punctured the club's - and by extension Mourinho's' - constructed image which rendered them almost impervious to such matters of public opinion.

As the pressure grew, so it drifted to the dugout and the pitch, as players formerly rated integral to the previous title win - Costa and Hazard in particular - spectacularly under-performed.

Take your pick of the defeats which followed - the 3-1 loss at Everton which confirmed their worst start sine 1978, the thumping at City, stunning home losses to Palace and Bournemouth in particular.

Just as he had migrated from 'Special' to 'Happy', so Mourinho's character evolved once more, from a man determined to blame referees and rival managers for defeats, to one oddly inclined to offer the kinds of comments which could broadly be translated as a defeatist shrug.

After Monday night's defeat at surprise leaders Leicester which left his side perilously close to the relegation zone, Mourinho reiterated his belief that he had been let down by players for whom he had given so much to help improve.

In doing so - driving an unrepairable wedge between himself and those charged with lifting the club out of their nightmare season - he effectively sealed his fate, and forced Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board to act.

From 'Special One' to 'Happy One' to 'Sacked One'.

Press Association

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