LONDON — With the bright lights of Stamford Bridge shinning down on Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese boss watched on in disbelief as Chelsea’s dramatic collapse continued with a 3-1 defeat to Southampton on Saturday.
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That loss signaled the Blues’ fourth defeat in eight Premier League games this season, and with fans booing his decisions, off-the-field incidents with Eva Carneiro dominating headlines and the reigning PL champs now 10 points off top spot, the pressure is building on Mourinho.
When speaking to the media afterwards, the 52-year-old was in a typically defiant mood and insisted he will not resign and leave Chelsea in the lurch.
“No way I resign. No way,” Mourinho said. “Why? Because Chelsea cannot have a better manager than me. There are many managers in the world that belong to my level, but not better. There is no chance I run away. Why? For two reasons. One: because I have my professional pride and I know that I am very good in my job. Second: I like this club very much and if that’s not the case it could be different. In the accumulation of both situations I want the best for my club and the best for my club is for me to stay. So, I stay.
“When we were champions I said ‘I am going to stay until the owner and the board want me to leave.’ No club can persuade me to leave. No financial offer can persuade me to leave. I am going to stay until the day the owner or the board tell me: ‘Jose, that’s enough.’ I said that when I was champion and I say that when I am 16th in the table. No chance I resign.”
Those words came after Mourinho had gone on an incredible seven-minute rant to TV cameras following the game, as he tried to deflect his players from criticism by complaining about penalty decisions not going the way of his team. But there is no way he can cover up the sheer ineptitude of Chelsea’s defensive performance. He knows it, and admitted several of his players are in a bad place with regards to their form and are “fragile” mentally as Southampton became the first team to score three times in a PL game at Stamford Bridge in the Mourinho era. Mourinho’s Chelsea lost just once at home in the PL during his first five season in charge. This season they have lost two of their first four home games, with Crystal Palace and Saints plunging the Blues into their worst moment under Mourinho. So where is it going wrong? How is this all unraveling so quickly?
Defense — an area Mourinho prides himself on as they had the best defensive record in the PL last season and he is revered as a defensive tactical genius — has been a huge issue for “The Special One” and after he recalled captain John Terry to the starting lineup (he had been dropped to the bench for four of the last five games), Terry and Gary Cahill were ripped apart by the pace of Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle‘s power. In truth, Saints were sensational but this isn’t the first time (and probably won’t be the last time) Chelsea will be ripped apart this season. Theorists suggested before the season began that Mourinho would suffer from his “third-season syndrome” something which has kept him moving from club-to-club in the past. His hot-headed approach often sees him fall out with players, staff and directors and means he will never be able to sustain success and be a legendary figure at one club for more than a few seasons. Right now, those theorists will be having a field day. But it’s not all Mourinho’s fault. His players are letting him down. Badly.
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Players like Terry, Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic (who was subbed out midway through the second half despite coming on at half time), Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard are the most noticeable who are lacking in form and confidence. Mourinho admitted that moving forward he will give youngsters like Ruben Loftus-Cheek a chance to shine but stopped short of blaming his senior players for getting Chelsea in this shocking position in the first place. He didn’t need to admit it. It is clear for everyone to see Chelsea’s squad is in a dark place as their incredible collapse continues.
In this dark hour, Mourinho called for Chelsea’s board to back him, for stability to return to the Bridge and for everyone to work together despite a shocking run of results to open up their title defense. He admitted winning the title would be tough this season, and with Chelsea currently 10 points off top spot, it’s easy to agree with that. He did refuse to rule out a top four finish and called on Chelsea’s directors to change their ways after ruthless sackings of managers in the past for dips in form nowhere near as bad as the one he’s currently enduring.
“When I was contacted to come back, I was told ‘we had so many managers. We know you are the best,'” Mourinho revealed. “I think it is time for the club to act in a different way, to mark a position of stability, a position of trust. Three months ago we were all together in the buzz of the cups. It is time for all of us to be together now in the bottom of the league.”
Eight weeks into the 2015-16 Premier League season, nobody expected Chelsea’s title charge to be over. It is. Nobody expected Mourinho to be under pressure and for his future at Chelsea to be in jeopardy. It is.