Jose Mourinho is the next ex-manager of Chelsea whichever way you look at it, but is the end nigh for the Special One?
Back in June 2004 he bestowed that nickname upon himself, although what he actually said was “I think I’m a special one”. There is a difference but, unsurprisingly, the media ran with it, branded him the ‘Special One’ and here we are.
There is no denying there is something pretty special about the guy and he has earned that label. Eight league titles in four countries, a two-time Champions League winning coach with two different clubs, at least one trophy in 12 out of the last 14 seasons and a 150 league game unbeaten run at home between 2002 and 2011, despite changing clubs – whatever you think of him – that is incredible. The ‘Special One’ might even be downplaying it a bit.
But now we’re at a stage where he isn’t so special anymore. Now we’re at a stage where the sack looks all but certain, or we get to a point where he is so ravaged by the pressure that he turns up for a post match interview stranded in the midst of a severe breakdown, before being led away by security guards, all the while sobbing “it was a clear penalty” pathetically to himself; resigning or being placed on gardening/compassionate leave the next day.
Here is the exclusive part – no one has any idea when either of these events are going to happen, or if they are going to happen at all.
All we know is what the 52-year-old Portuguese has told us himself. He has claimed he has the “full support” of Roman Abramovich (admittedly before defeats to West Ham, Liverpool and Stoke) and he has said he won’t resign but that’s basically it. The BBC’s lead sport story yesterday for a time was “Jose Mourinho retains Chelsea owner Abramovich’s support” but there is nothing concrete within the article. I’m a big fan of the BBC, generally they’ve got very high journalistic standards, but where is their source for this? There isn’t even a mention of ‘our sources understanding’ or a variation of. One fairly questionable tabloid report says Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone is the ‘top target’ to replace Mourinho, while another even more questionable report today says Cholo isn’t keen, via nonsense merchant Guillem Balague. The not-so-Secret Footballer caused a mini-storm last week by announcing that Cesc Fabregas was leading some kind of revolution against Mourinho. That blog post has since been deleted.
All this tells me is that no one has a clue what Abramovich is likely to do next. Aside from the fact he probably would have been a drugs cheat, either through coercion or choice, had he been an athlete and he might not be too cool with gay people I don’t want to hazard a guess at what he may or may not be thinking because the Russian is so intensely private. He’s essentially a silent owner, but when he does make decisions they can be ruthless.
Chelsea’s fall from grace this season has been spectacular, I can’t think of anything even akin to it at the highest level. Juventus did have a wobble earlier in the season but they seem to have picked up now, add to the fact they went into the campaign on the back of a Champions League final loss and saw a number of key players depart there are big mitigating circumstances for a sluggish or even horrendous start. At Chelsea there are no mitigating circumstances, it is just a shit storm of madness no one could have predicted after last year’s Premier League romp. Mourinho’s position is seemingly getting close to untenable but no one will be any the wiser until Abramovich actually does act.
Personally I’d like Mourinho to stay, not because I particularly like him, or dislike him for that matter, just for pure entertainment value. His tactics might be a little dull, it is results over performance, but when you’ve got players like Eden Hazard, Willian, Cesc Fabregas and Oscar on the pitch there is always the potential for a moment of brilliance in even the most turgid of matches. The real entertainment is in his press conferences, how he winds up other managers and generally in the way he conducts himself. How long we’ll get to enjoy watching that at Stamford Bridge is anyone’s guess – and everyone seems to be having a go on that sweepstake right now – until the moment he either walks or is pushed, and any reports claiming otherwise should be treated with extreme caution.
The media might be awash with speculation and that’s all it is, educated and not so educated guesswork, all bashed out with varying degrees of skill to get people clicking on their stories. I’m aware I’ve done exactly the same thing but at least I’m being honest about it.