The Special One is suddenly not special anymore.
Jose Mourinho's grovelling on television post-Chelsea loss to Leicester City, 2-1, over the weekend, where he said, "I want to stay. I hope Mr. Abramovic and the board want me to stay because I want to stay” is far from the man who left Chelsea at the height of its glory for Italy.
Whether Mourinho will be sacked or not as manager with Chelsea one point above the relegation zone will surely not diminish his status as one of football’s all-time great managers. His legacy is already assured after having won titles in Portugal, England, Italy, and Spain. In fact, he is the only manager to have won a domestic title, the league championship, cup, super cup, and league cup in four European leagues! Not many coaches can claim to be a “galactico" - a term usually reserved for players — but he was labeled as such and rightfully so when he arrived in Madrid.
He further added to his legend two years after his return to England by taking the Premiership last season. How it has unraveled so quickly for both club and its Portuguese coach this season is both spectacular and karmic.
In truth, the unraveling began in Madrid even as Barcelona took the majority of the silverware available during his time there. Yet when Mourinho joined the scrum during a Barcelona-Real Madrid match years ago was disappointing. As painful as it was for him to see his Los Blancos squad fall late in the match, 3-2, to Pep Guardiola’s side, when he poked Barca assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye, it was so unbecoming of someone of his stature let alone a manager. Furthermore, during his time in Madrid, Barcelona won the lion’s share of the trophies as Pep Guardiola’s outdueled the Special One.
All his years, he has called attention to himself to deflect the harsh glare of the spotlight on his players. Yet this year, the script has flipped as he has repeatedly thrown his players under the bus after one disappointing loss after another. Furthermore, in the loss to Leicester over the weekend, he even included the ball boys! Mourinho has even gone on to say that he is responsible for whatever points his team has accrued while the missing points from a win are because of his players.
If he had some players on his side before the weekend, it is an even more toxic locker room that he will face when they get back to work after the debacle against Leicester.
And now he is begging for his job.
For sure, the fall of defending champion Chelsea isn’t only Mourinho’s fault. A lot of it can also be levelled towards the players especially seeing how this club has treated previous managers (see Avram Grant, Andre Villas-Boas, and Rafa Benitez). After all, they are the ones on the pitch. Yet, I do not know one club more infamous for its dumping of its managers than Chelsea even if they have won championships. It’s one thing not to win and it’s another to let them go even if them win some titles here and there.
Between Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea in 2007 right up to his return in 2013, the Blues have brought in eight managers! Eight! Some won some silverware; some were world-class managers, yet none of them lasted under the weight of expectations.
Speaking of the fall of the Blues, this is where they stand: four wins, three draws, and nine losses in 16 fixtures. They are 16th in the 20-team Premier League. Aston Villa, Sunderland, Norwich City, and Swansea are right below them in the relegation zone.
Club owner Roman Abramovic must weigh all of this very well. Just as it did when Chelsea let go of Mourinho in 2007 for L16 million, this time it will come at a higher price — L40 (as per contractual stipulations)! Chelsea’s Russian owner must know that they have not generally lucked out with any manager after Mourinho (although there’s Roberto Di Matteo who gave a good account of himself and Guss Hiddink won 73% of his matches which is better than Mourinho’s 67%) but keeping Mourinho will mean losing the players all the more. More often than not, it is the manager who must go and in this case of a poisoned atmosphere, all the bad eggs should be made to pay or else the inmates will be running the asylum.
No other football club has been more controversial than Chelsea: the John Terry racism incident and his affair with the girlfriend of a former teammate, Eden Hazard kicking a ball boy, Ashley Cole’s shooting a student, the fight between a Stamford Bridge groundsman and Man United’s Patrice Evra, Jose Mourinho’s alleged hiding inside a laundry cart to enter the Blues’ locker room while serving a suspension, the “firing” of popular team doctor Eva Carneiro after an in-match disagreement with the manager, Diego Costa throwing a training bib in his manager’s direction when he wasn’t going to be sent into a match, and more. All that is in the last eight years and that doesn’t even begin to complete the list.
It is shocking to see this turn for one of the more successful football clubs of the past decade or so. At the end of the day, you reap what you sow.
During his plea to keep his job post-Leicester, Mourinho said that he looks forward to helping Chelsea out of its current rut and said, "I am not afraid of a big challenge.”
Somehow, that seems out of his hands right now.