Nobody would have thought that ‘The Special One’ Jose Mourinho who guided Chelsea to the Premier League triumph last season, would get off to a disastrous start into the new season and face the sack, only six months down the road.
But, having bagged a paltry 14 points in the first 16 games and sitting only one point above the relegation zone must have sent alarming signals to Mourinho that he was dangling by a thread and his time at the Stamford Bridge had come to an end.
Nobody can doubt the managerial capabilities of Mourinho who rose to fame when he led the Portuguese side Porto to the Champions League glory in 2004. He was appointed by Chelsea and remained there till 2007 with two Premier League titles to his name before being shown the door.
He took the charge of Inter Milan and once again through his panache earned them the Champions League fame before assuming the role as Real Madrid’s gaffer.
He clinched one league trophy at the Bernabeu by challenging the nemesis Barcelona. He joined Chelsea once again before the start of the 2014 season when they had a managerial crisis and despicable run, and needed somebody who didn’t have to move mountains to reinstate their lost pride.
And, without any predicament, Mourinho marshaled them to another feat, outfoxing the other title contenders.
In his second spell, Chelsea were touted as the favourites to retain their crown. Mourinho even talked about building a formidable team that would rule the Premier League for the next ten years. But things happened exactly opposite to what he had reckoned.
From the very beginning, the 2015-16 season took a catastrophic turn for him, as if he had come under a wicked spell. The same players who had stood out just months ago and showed phenomenal class, degenerated into a fragile unit.
This time around, Mourinho’s tactics were challenged by the rival teams and he failed to use the right cards.
While United and City splashed more money to strengthen their squad in a bid for the title, Chelsea settled with signing low-key players.
It was never Mourinho’s responsibility to lure new signings to the club. Moreover, the managers lose their dressing room when they start getting disappointed with their senior players and staff. Mourinho had to substitute captain John Terry over Chelsea’s horrendous performance against Manchester City, which resulted in an ignominious 3-0 defeat.
He wanted to send a strong message to the owner that if new players are not bought, he doesn’t promise success. But this was just the beginning!
His defiance has always been one of his trademarks. He hurled a slur on the team’s medic Eva Carneiro during a match against Swansea for going onto the pitch and treating Eden Hazard in the dying moments of the game, which caused outrage worldwide, causing more humiliation to Chelsea.
The Football Association also issued a statement, lamenting the club for treating their staff unfairly. And, with every loss that followed, Mourinho started accusing referees of manipulating results with their wrong decisions.
He was even handed a one-match stadium ban and £40,000 fine for showing dissent and throwing disgusting rants.
Chelsea’s big guns Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas remained the subject of severe criticism for playing recklessly. It is widely believed that these three senior players turned their backs on their boss and let their team sink in what turned out to be a horrible zone.
Belgium midfielder Hazard got injured early in the season and is yet to rediscover his top form.
Costa, who scored 20 Premier League goals last season, has managed just three so far. Spain midfielder Fabregas has also been criticised for lacking the astute mid-fielding qualities he is known for. Mourinho’s sacking took the whole galaxy by storm as he started trending over the internet.
He might have fallen to the dark side, but his popularity outdid even the highly anticipated newly-released Star Wars movie on Google and Twitter.
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s famous line applies to Mourinho as well: "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
Mourinho will find a way to resuscitate himself by taking charge of another club, perhaps Manchester United, who are also on the cusp of firing the Dutch manager Loius van Gaal for the current desolate state of the club.
It has also been reported that LVG will be booted out and is given only next two matches to bounce back to the winning ways.
Moreover, City are keeping tabs on the maestro Pep Guadiola who is leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the season. If this happens, United will definitely consider giving Mourinho a chance to turn their fortunes around.
The malevolence between these two managers will breathe a new life into the Premier League as they used to share this relationship while at the helm of Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively.
But what are Chelsea going to do? They should have talked through this quandary and sorted things out with Mourinho. He deserved one more season and new signings to produce better results since he is the most successful manager in Chelsea’s illustrious history.
Managing Chelsea has always been an arduous task and only an experienced and dexterous coach could pull them out of the abysmal situation and usher them into the top four, which must be their target for the next season.
However, with Guus Hiddink as the interim manager right now, the key move should be to get back in the top ten, or if a miracle happens, in the top six (which seems unlikely).
Chelsea may have managed to win a match after Mourinho’s exit last week, but it was never an easy appearance for the players at the Stamford Bridge.
The fans directed scathing jeers at the team for being responsible for Mourinho’s departure. Mourinho is surely hated by many for his attitude and decisions sometimes, but he is a juggernaut who can drive any team to the golden days like he has always done.
The article has been updated to correct some factual inaccuracies. The errors are regretted.