20 Nov Jose is ok
There was a moment last month when the lunacy of the Barclays Premier League manifested itself in all its glory around Stamford bridge.
The manager of Chelsea was apparently hanging on to his job by a thread and the potential new candidates were all being lined up in a row, ready to take the seat of the King of the bridge.
My immediate thought was, if Jose Mourinho is getting sacked, the ball is well and truly burst. The lunatics have almost certainly taken over the asylum.
The Portuguese splits opinion on his attitude to defeats, referees and anyone who dares question his management style, including doctors and physios.
Fast forward from the dark days of October with just one win in six games, throw in a close Champions league win and yet another defeat to Stoke and things don’t seem much better.
However, after an International break and more important matters of life and death to occupy our minds, and suddenly Jose’s predicament is maybe not as bad as first feared.
Yes, there are still whispers of unrest, skullduggery and players ready for a sharp exit but, after a word with the manager ahead of Norwich City at home tomorrow, maybe some were a little hasty in suggesting his demise.
Mourinho calmly dismissed the possibility of a clear out: ‘I will not ask for any changes. I will not ask the board in January. I’m happy with the players. I trust the players.’
‘I don’t need to clean the dressing room. And I don’t need to ask the club to spend money in January.’
I can understand his logic in trying to maintain the perception of a happy family, but January will offer the Blues boss the chance to freshen up the squad and maybe throw doubt into the minds of some who think they are indispensable.
As for his own position, Mourinho’s logic seemed to be lost on a few learned friends at the height of suggestions he could be sacked.
‘Nobody gives a four year contract four months ago, if they don’t trust the person. There is trust and there are reasons for that trust. But obviously, the power in the end is with the owner and the board.’
‘And I think the same way they show us, to me, and to the players that they trust us. I think it is time, also for us, to give a positive answer, which I think we are giving but, not in the results.’
‘It is important for us to go to a good period because the owner, board and supporters deserve so much, and so do I and the players deserve, so I believe the good moment will arrive.’
Jose is adamant he has the backing of the owner and he remains defiant in his belief that Chelsea can still make the top four from his team’s current position of 16th in the table, with seven defeats from the opening twelve fixtures.
Chelsea will need to set a new record of achievement to secure fourth place in the table and Champions league qualification, unless of course they win Europe’s premier tournament this season.
I don’t believe either are achievable for the Blues but, I do believe Mourinho’s record and his status as the world’s best manager, in my book, should give him a season of failure and grace.
I freely accept that the current boss of the title holders and all the honours that are attached to his name seem to count for nothing in this apparent crisis, but surely it buys him time to fix it?
If Jose can’t repair the damage, then there will almost certainly be a clear out in the summer. The Chelsea players must surely be aware they are playing for their own future, which is far more precarious than that of their gifted boss.
A win over Norwich on Saturday will not signal the end of questions or doubts but, it could be the starting point on the road to recovery. Only Tottenham and Manchester United, possibly Leicester, over the next six weeks will be viewed as tough encounters with uncertain outcomes.
The other matches are all games you would expect Chelsea to win.
Roman Abramovich supports Jose Mourinho, for now, and I hope through this difficult period.
If one of the world’s most wealthy businessmen should lose his faith in Jose, I don’t envy him searching for a better manager, when he already has the best one sitting in the home dugout tomorrow.