Thursday, 24 December 2015

OSM - Next Step for Pep Solves Everything

“A silicon chip inside his head is turned to overload”

Or so would be the variation of the famous Boomtown Rats songs – “I don’t like Mondays” if rewritten to explain events at Chelsea and Jose Mourinho this week. Particularly after the defeat at Kings Power stadium to long-time rival Claudio Rainieri in a two one loss that left Chelsea – incredibly - resting around the drop zone area. An imaginable thought less than six months ago when the Special One was heroically celebrating another Premier League title at Stamford Bridge.

One doubts that even the darkest of humour from any manager, or indeed Chairman and owner could have laughed that situation off. Even less so Mourinho – who fails in the humour department – as he takes himself far too seriously for that. So therein lies his problem at Chelsea where his players seemed to have deserted him leaving the Portuguese manager isolated on the side line helpless to correct anything. Seeking solace with megaphone diplomacy to reach out to his players in recent weeks,

For all Mourinho’s suaveness and style, he is unable to do a number of basic things required of an experienced football manager – a thick skin. Also to accept defeat when it arises, understand the vagaries of refereeing, display some humility when there are short comings to his plans, or accepting blame at times. Most importantly though, moving on to the next game and leaving the past behind him. 

No. That’s not for him as it is always the blame game and at Leicester City it was the turn of the ball boys – who allegedly in Jose’s eyes – were too slow giving back the balls to his players towards the end of the game. Perhaps playing a causal role in the Chelsea’s loss as a result he believed. 

The need to win at all costs is something that has worked well for Mourinho over the years since he first landed on the football landscape with the Champions League win with Porto in 2004. Having repeated the feat with Inter Milan in 2010 and added league titles in four European jurisdictions his CV leaves him in an exclusive club no doubt. However, it does not all read like a fairy tale as at each of the clubs he has left behind. Given he is more than capable of starting a row on his own in a phone box = when the mood takes him. With an ability to also target players who he may feel carry too much power in his dressing room. Or maybe too high profile in his eyes. 

Hence Juan Mata was shipped out off to United on Jose’s return to Chelsea despite having his best season at the club the previous year. 

Mourinho then chose to find a home for Radamel Falcao for some reason at Stamford Bridge - someone who hardly played a game since leaving Monaco - and carrying an injury it seems since he dominated the headlines for Atletico Madrid for his scoring ability when they won Europa league in 2013. In addition, the chase for Diego Costa, who also had established himself as Falcao’s replacement at Atletico under Simeone - but was injured toward the end of the season - then coming off in the Champions League Final in Lisbon. Which he followed by a poor world cup with Spain in Brazil, and unable to reclaim his place with Del Bosque. 

Regardless he outperformed all expectations last season up front for Chelsea. Yet this year he has been absent without trace.

Perhaps his best decision was to sell David Luiz – doing so at the top of the market during the world cup - just as before the splendour of the home teams nations hopes imploded on the Copacabana– when they were dumped out by Germany. With PSG paying €50 million euros for a player even Rafa Benitez could not decide was a defender or midfielder. Lest we forget there were some other astute moves like coaxing Cesc Fabregas back to London from Barcelona, a move that paid dividends for both parties as the former Arsenal player delivered last season. Eden hazard was another that repaid Mourinho’s faith as did Drogba when he returned from China last season.

But ever since the Eva Carneiro incident Hazard has only been a shadow of his former self, as indeed has been Fabregas. With neither performing as needed this season. Why Oscar wasn’t sold during the transfer window was another bizarre Jose decision given that he was unable to hold his place in the physicality of Mourinho’s game plan.

The former Liverpool striker and one time wales and Real Madrid manager, John Toshack, always believed even top class managers last only three seasons. The one in which they arrive and acclimatise to the job, which then may pose problems in the second if there is the need to win something and the honeymoon is over. With the third possibly cut short if no titles were won year 2. Or indeed any success in year two was not repeated those winning laurels are easily forgotten. The exit door the surest guarantee. 

For Jose Mourinho winning the league Championship in May with three games in hand is now forgotten, his P45 handed to him by the board, with only nine wins out of sixteen games achieved since August. Sharing the lower echelons of the Premier League table with Swansea, Aston Villa and Sunderland. Which all makes poor reading for the top heavy management of gunslingers at Chelsea. So the sack was the only way out for all parties.

And if player power was the real backdrop, then the Chelsea players won this time around. 

As they did probably at Real Madrid a few years ago when Mourinho accused the players of leaking team information to the media. The two targets in his sights proving immovable club stalwarts at the time, team captain Iker Casillas and vice-captain, Sergio Ramos. The ensuing carnage during his last months at the club, which was chasing the tenth Champions League title – and one that Mourinho won in the same stadium for Inter - started to unravel publicly. 

That legacy that rearing its ugly head only recently when Chelsea played Porto in their final round robin game in the Champions where Casillas is now the goalkeeper. Poor old Jose couldn’t resist a dig even though the former Chelsea manager was almost three years gone from Madrid. But no bygone is a bygone for Jose.

His woes though at Chelsea never subsided despite the mind games and the trip to Leicester seemed to seal his ultimate fate for owner, Roman Abramovich. As the mercurial mind of Mourinho is impossible to understand it is clear that he felt the end was nigh and was almost happy to precipitate it one imagines. Perhaps a break from football might suit him. Or is it a chance at the Manchester United job that really appeals to him - now that Louis van Gaal is under very similar stress every day. But not knowing what really makes Jose tick leaves it difficult to predict what might happen next. 

No doubt his own paranoia gets the better of him too, as is his need to control all events and that exaggerated self-belief. All of which can also make him vulnerable to life’s realities. Those times when events are not going his way as all people face in life. The moment Plan A fails and there is an urgent need for Plan B. Mourinho doesn’t seem to do that second plan. Its all or nothing for him.

At Chelsea that inability to adapt cost him the job he craved after Real Madrid agreed to dispense with his services. Whether going back to Stamford Bridge was wise is now a redundant argument as they won trophies last season. With the chastening experience of the current developments one imagines Madrid would not seek his services again even if Rafa Benitez fails to ignite their season. With Porto not big enough anymore and Inter offering no vacancy it is clear that Mourinho wants another go in the Premier League.

If the bookies are to be believed, then this whole departure has been contrived to secure the Special One at Old Trafford - the place he always wanted when Sir Alex Ferguson left but was never offered as he was viewed as a bit too controversial. Instead it was the low key choices of David Moyes and van Gaal both proving short of the mark thus far. Leaving the United board facing a rethink. Unless of course they have secured Pep Guardiola’s services, now that he is set to leave Bayern Munich – amidst the rumours Carlo Ancelotti is the replacement for the Bavarian club.

With Guus Hiddink now taking interim charge of Chelsea, Jürgen Klopp filling the space vacated by Brendan Rogers at Liverpool it only leaves Manchester City as an opportunity. However, Manuel Pellegrini is the incumbent and there seems little reason at this point to rock the boat after City finally reached the last sixteen of the Champions League. But then if Guardiola was to be the City choice in 2016/17 and van Gaal’s deal was not extended then Mourinho would land at Old Trafford, would he not?

But in all probability Guardiola is the next Manchester City manager. After all he was Ferguson’s first choice - but turned him down in fancy downtown restaurant in Manhattan afe years ago. 

The real questions are who will be the next Chelsea manager. And, would United hire Mourinho now as the wheels fall off the van Gaal wagon

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