London - Embattled Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
faces the greatest crisis of his stellar career, with
British media reports claiming that he could be days
away from losing his job.
With the defending champions 15th and floundering
in the Premier League, fresh misery arrived on
Tuesday when they had their League Cup crown
prised from their fingers in a penalty shootout defeat
at Stoke City.
It prompted the latest in a flood of damning
headlines, with Wednesday's edition of The Sun
splashing that Mourinho was "clinging to his job by a
thread", his two-year tenure "all but over".
The Daily Mirror, meanwhile, reported that some
senior players believe it is "only a matter of time
before Mourinho departs", echoing recent claims that
his combative methods have alienated members of his
While the broadsheet newspapers were more
circumspect, the tone was similar. The Daily
Telegraph said he was "fighting for his future", The
Guardian that his future was "up in the air".
Once again, Mourinho seems to be succumbing to the
curse of 'third season syndrome', which has dogged
him throughout his career.
Though unparallelled in his ability to quickly forge
winning teams, Mourinho has never worked at a club
for four full seasons, as results invariably slope off
after his second campaign.
He angrily dismissed the theory when it was put to
him recently "click Google instead of asking stupid
questions" but Chelsea's current woes are bearing it
out more starkly than any of his previous
When Mourinho last left Chelsea, in September 2007,
it was because his relationship with owner Roman
Abramovich had broken down and although he was
recently given a public vote of confidence, there are
suggestions that his abrasive antics may have upset
the club hierarchy.
However, a lack of available alternatives could buy
him precious time.
Abramovich seems no closer to his dream of luring
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola to west London,
while Carlo Ancelotti is said to be reluctant about
returning following his abrupt sacking by the Russian
Guus Hiddink performed a successful rescue mission
at Chelsea in 2009, but his stock has fallen after his
recent travails with the Netherlands.
In the meantime, Mourinho continues to enjoy the
public support of both Chelsea's players and their
fans, who pointedly chanted his name throughout
Tuesday's match at Stoke.
Mourinho wore a more relaxed demeanour than of
late at the Britannia Stadium, waving to supporters,
smiling through his press conference and reserving
his ire for the media's "stupid" criticism of his team.
He claimed that Chelsea's display proved his players
were still behind him and while they have won only
one of their last seven games, the intensity in their
play has returned.
They created a glut of chances against Stoke and
largely dominated last week's 0-0 draw at Dynamo
Kiev in the Champions League, twice hitting the
woodwork and having a strong penalty appeal
And while Saturday's 2-1 defeat at West Ham United
was their fifth of the league campaign, Slaven Bilic's
side have also accounted for Arsenal, Liverpool and
Manchester City this season.
"It's important for him to stay and we don't want to
give up," striker Loic Remy told the London Evening
"We were champions together only last season and he
is a really great manager. Of course I don't want him
to leave. I think all the players don't want that."
Chelsea great Frank Lampard has also offered
support, saying: "With Jose Mourinho in charge, the
squad they've got, the talent they've got on the pitch
and the club that Chelsea is now, I don't see anyway
that they won't turn it around."
Jurgen Klopp visits the Bridge on Saturday, his
appointment as Liverpool manager having recalled the love-in that greeted Mourinho's arrival in England in 2004.
Eleven years on, the Portuguese remains the biggest
story in town, only now it is for all the wrong
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