Jose Mourinho was supposed to be too special a manager to make such a mess at Chelsea.
But the past is behind us, present-day results matter most, and this is Chelsea we’re talking about.
Chelsea fired Mourinho on Thursday, just six months after he led the Blues to the Premier League title. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and the Blues’ other directors jettisoned Mourinho amid a historic disaster of a title defense, in which they sit 16th in the Premier League standings after 16 games — nine of which have ended in defeat.
Mourinho, the self-styled “Special One,” has paid the heaviest price for Chelsea’s decline. He’s one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever managers, but he couldn’t sustain his success.
The 2015-16 season has been the worst of Mourinho’s glittering career.
Upon returning to Stamford Bridge in 2013 as a second-time Chelsea manager, Mourinho said he hoped to create a dynasty over the course of a lengthy tenure. Chelsea’s Premier League and Capital One Cup (Football League Cup) haul in 2014-15 suggested the Mourinho-led project was on course after two seasons.
Exactly what caused Chelsea’s rapid downfall isn’t clear. A number of factors certainly were at play.
More important than answering why Chelsea is struggling is the need to reverse its slide. Chelsea’s title hopes are dead, and its aspirations of qualifying for next season’s UEFA Champions League are on life support. Chelsea already is out of the Capital One Cup. Avoiding relegation, winning the FA Cup and the Champions League are the remaining avenues toward redemption this season.
Abramovich, one of world soccer’s most ruthless and demanding owners, probably has taken action because the numbers tell him Mourinho and Chelsea simply have lost their way.
Thumbnail photo via Sergei Chuzavkov/The Associated Press