The 2015-16 season has been one of, if not the, worst season of Jose Mourinho’s career. Regardless of the efforts by the master tactician, nothing seems to have worked for Chelsea in the Premier League.
Not only on the pitch, it seems that he is also losing the confidence of his players outside of the four lines. His latest comments after the 2-1 defeat to Leicester are perfect to illustrate the scenario shaping up in Chelsea’s backroom.
“They are two goals [that are] very difficult to accept, big frustration to accept, because I feel like my work was betrayed if it’s the right word,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“All last season I did phenomenal work and I brought them [Chelsea’s players] to a level that is not their level, that is more than they really are, or this season we are doing so bad that the players for some reason — I’m not saying all of them of course, I don’t want to put some of them in the same basket — but clearly with some of them it’s so difficult.”
There have also been other incidents regarding the bad mood between Mourinho and some of the Chelsea players, especially the under-performing striker Diego Costa.
The naturalized Spaniard did little to hide how annoyed he was at Mourinho last month when the manager benched him and didn’t substitute him into the match. Costa responded to the bench treatment by tossing his warm-up bib in the direction of Mourinho as the player was making his way back to the bench.
Chelsea’s 34 percent winning percentage is the worst in all of Mourinho’s 15 years as a manager. The closest record of him being close to such a mark was back when he was at the helm of affairs at União de Leiria in Portugal. Mourinho managed the Portuguese club from July 2001 to January 2002 and left the club with a winning percentage of 45.
During his first spell at Chelsea, Mourinho coached the Blues from June 2004 to September 2007 and had a 71.65 percent winning percentage. He also finished last season with a winning percentage above 80 percent, with arguably the same team he has at his disposal today.
Now, what went wrong? And how can he turn things back to the way they were?
First, Chelsea’s problem doesn’t lie on the pitch. The probability of 15 other teams only becoming better than the reigning Premier League Champions is not very high, and there have been no major players transferred out of the club this season, so squad strength does not seem to be the core problem.
The only remaining possibility is that the mood is just bad behind the curtains at Stamford Bridge, and Mourinho is most likely the catalyst of this.
The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor explained it best when he made a comparison between the relationship Mourinho and his players had back in 2012 to the one they have today.
“Mourinho’s players would do anything for him and he, in turn, did everything for them. That bond seemed impenetrable.
The contrast with Monday’s defeat against Leicester City could hardly be starker at a time when Chelsea are only a point above the relegation zone, and it is increasingly difficult to think that Mourinho can survive much longer.”
Now, how can he make things better?
The answer is easy, Mourinho will have to swallow his pride and, like he did in the past, be happy while keeping his players happy. Otherwise, Chelsea is walking on a thin rope and looking down to the Sky Bet Championship. Should they get any closer, heads will start rolling, and, Mourinho’s will be the first.