Thursday 22 August 2019

Jose Mourinho's record worse than any other Chelsea boss sacked by Roman Abramovich

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea were beaten by Stoke on Saturday to fall to a third successive league defeat
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea were beaten by Stoke on Saturday to fall to a third successive league defeat

Mark Critchley

With each passing defeat and tempestuous press conference, Jose Mourinho supposedly edges closer to the exit door at Stamford Bridge.

The beleaguered Chelsea manager has been 'on the brink' for weeks now, as he presides over one of the all-time worst starts to a league season by defending champions.

Even so, at the time of writing, he has still not been sacked. For an owner like Roman Abramovich, one who has become notorious for his itchy trigger finger, that is somewhat surprising.

How does Mourinho's record compare to that of Chelsea's sacked managers?

Since taking over the club in 2003, seven of the oligarch’s ten managerial appointments have ended with premature exits.

Two more, Guus Hiddink and Rafael Benitez, left Stamford Bridge upon the expiration of their short-term contracts.

So, how does the Portuguese coach’s current win percentage compare to those of his predecessors before they were shown the door?

We took a look at how each Chelsea manager to be sacked by Abramovich had fared in their final season with the club, hoping to get an idea of when the Russian’s patience may finally run out…


This season, Mourinho’s record of six wins in 18 games gives him a win percentage of 33.3 per cent, which is worse than that of any other manager sacked by Abramovich in their final season with the club.

The former Real Madrid manager also holds the next lowest, winning just three of the seven games before his departure in 2007/08 season. This, however, is the smallest of all seven samples and perhaps not wholly representative.

A better comparison is that of Roberto di Matteo, whose contract was terminated after 19 games in the 2012/13 season. He had won 11 times that season, giving him a score of 57.8 per cent – markedly better than Mourinho’s but still not enough to save him from the chop.

Of all Chelsea managers in recent history, perhaps Avram Grant is the most hard-done-by. The man who replaced Mourinho after his first spell with the club lost his job despite winning two-thirds of the matches he presided over.

So, why has Mourinho not been sacked?

His reputation

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Mourinho is the outstanding manager of the last ten years and, while names like Grant and Di Matteo had superior records in their final season on paper, it is impossible to pretend that they had anything like the two-time Champions League winner's pedigree.

It is worth noting, however, that a coach's reputation often counts for little at Chelsea, hence why we looked at each manager's final season with the club rather than their overall record. Managers who have experienced success at club in the past are always vulnerable if results are not going their way in the present.

Once bitten, twice shy…

That aside, there is also the issue that Abramovich has dispensed with Mourinho once before, albeit by apparent 'mutual consent'. What followed was years on managerial instability and dissatisfaction while the greatest coaching talent of his generation went on to pick up winners medals across the continent.

Eventually, he returned, but at the Portuguese coach's peak in 2010, that was far from guaranteed. Abramovich may see sacking Mourinho once as foolish and to sack him twice as sheer carelessness.

Chelsea's reputation as a 'sacking' club

As mentioned, ever since Mourinho's shock departure eight years ago, Chelsea's dugout has been one of the most fluid in the division.

Mourinho's return marked the tenth managerial change in ten years at Stamford Bridge and, as strange as it may sound this season, his second spell has marked a brief period of genuine stability.

Removing him now would send a message to the few top coaches who haven't yet tried their hand at Chelsea that it is, for all intents and purposes, an impossible job.

Who can replace him?

Even when assuming most of world football's coaches would jump at the chance to take on Chelsea, the club's propensity to plough through managerial appointments leaves them with few other options.

At present, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone seems to be the favourite but the job he has done at the Vicente Calderón is a radically different one to that which would await him in west London. What's more, despite his heroics in the Spanish capital, his record is not unblemished.

After guiding River Plate to win the Argentinian Clausura title in 2008, his team ended the following Apertura with 14 points, last in the table, which contributed to the club's incredible relegation three years later.

Ultimately, if they sack Mourinho, Chelsea's options are limited. The best candidate on offer may be another former manager, Carlo Ancelotti.

If the Italian were to return and take charge of an ageing squad losing its leaders, history suggest he'd have to do better than the 55.2 win percentage he managed in 2010/11 which, even after a Double-winning season, was deemed good enough for Abramovich.

Independent News Service

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