Chelsea’s team is in shambles. That’s not even up for discussion. With only 11 points through 11 league matches, all that can be said about the media firestorm they’ve received is: fair enough. There is reason to raise alarms. Regardless of where the blame actually lies, be it John Terry’s obviously failing limbs and Eden Hazard’s reported laziness, a destroyed morale in the locker room or a failure of manager Jose Mourinho’s tactics and leadership, the level of scrutiny Mourinho is facing is completely uncalled for.
Completing the prodigal son narrative, Mourinho returned to Chelsea for his sophomore stint at the club, which made Blues supporters happier than ever. But Mourinho’s eight titles in six years — one more than the other four managers that took his place between 2007 and 2013 combined — is apparently not enough to keep everyone happy.
The league has not changed that drastically. Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal may be marginally better equipped, but Mourinho has proven that he is still, strategically, as sound a manager as you can find in football worldwide. They’ve faced all their opponents with the right structure, but their players just haven’t performed. No pundit has questioned his tactics. What changes can a new manager make? Stroke Hazard and Diego Costa’s ego? Perhaps Hazard threatening a potential move to Real Madrid is for the better.
Loyalty is dead in soccer. Mourinho has shown complete respect for the club. He eats, sleeps and cries in Chelsea F.C. Despite this, the club does not reciprocate.
It is not my intention to turn this column into a Marxist critique, but it’s necessary to point out the power of money in the imminent firing of the Special One. Money has destroyed that virtue. Money triggered Sol Campbell’s secret treason of Tottenham with his move to Highbury in 2001. More recently, money made a move to Manchester City from Aston Villa attractive for Fabian Delph over summer, where he just played his first nine minutes at the end of yesterday’s Champions League tie. It has corrupted soccer players’ desire to play the game and made it into a desire to work the game.
Rumors are swirling that in the next week Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, the most literal representation of money in the world’s sport, is going to utterly fail his team and sack Mourinho. It would be a shame if the Russian oligarch decides to sack the best thing he’s ever had and side with a whiny Hazard. Mou’s brain has more potential for the future than Hazard’s — or any other Chelsea players’ — legs.
Email Francisco Navas at [email protected]