In this week’s Comments Below, Poet and Vuj focus their attention on Sunday’s match at the Etihad Stadium, as Man City made light work of a weary and weak Chelsea side to surge to the top of the Premier League table. At one point, Vuj came out with the somewhat outlandish statement of “Within the next 15 matches, new manager. I think Mourinho’s losing it.”. Is he right?
It may at first seem like a ludicrous comment to make as, despite the frequency with which Premier League clubs dismiss their managers, we’re talking about Mourinho and the defending Champions here. What’s more, we’re only TWO games into the season. But there is a certain truth behind Vuj’s assertion – for one reason or another, throughout Mourinho’s managerial career, he has so far proven that he can not manage a club for more than three seasons. During his tenure at almost every club so far, there has come a point when either the fans, players, or the administration have become disillusioned with his antics or methods. On rejoining Chelsea as manager in 2013, Mourinho claimed that he was in for the long haul at a club where “I know I am loved”. His second stint at Chelsea has, until very recently, been fairly plain sailing.
Things have changed over the past month or so for José though. The honeymoon period and elation after winning the League and Cup double has been replaced by transfer market frustration and media animosity his part. With regards to the summer’s comings and goings, there is an overbearing sense that Mourinho is not satisfied with his squad’s lack of depth, particularly in defence. His pursuit of John Stones has been well-documented, and his substitution of John Terry at half-time on Sunday left everyone wondering whether Roman Abramovich has not given Mourinho free reign in the transfer market. The other noticeable change has been his increasingly strained relationship with the media, especially since his removal of physio Eva Carneiro from match day proceedings following her ‘disobedience’ against Swansea.
Even before that, there were signs that Mourinho had come into this season with a chip on his shoulder. His very indirect yet unashamedly clear criticisms of Arsenal and Arsène Wenger around the time of the FA Community Shield concerning their transfer spending smelt of bitterness. It’s nothing new, though. Everyone is used to his managerial mind games, his unapologetic media playfulness, but Mourinho seems to have gone too far now. He has stranded himself on an island of insecurity, devoid of unbiased, opposition fans and, more worryingly, fewer and fewer Chelsea players and fans. It’s a desperate situation, where the blame can only be placed on himself.
At Madrid, his touchline antics reached breaking point with the emergence of footage of him gouging the late Tito Vilanova’s eye in a scuffle with Barcelona during the Super Copa. At Inter, it was his hostility towards Italian refereeing, the press, and managers Ancelotti and Lippi that foreshadowed his departure. Inter have been wallowing in mediocrity for years now, licking the wounds inflicted on them during a volatile three years under the Portuguese. Before that, during his first reign at Chelsea, a bitter relationship with Abramovich left his position as manager untenable after years of success.
It could be that the first cracks in Mourinho’s second stay at Stamford Bridge are starting to show. But Mourinho needn’t worry. He is an undeniably brilliant manager, and his talents as a man manager are unrivalled. The list of players that have sung his praises (Lampard, Terry, Ronaldo, to name just a few) is impressive. But for every player that does so, there are just as many who reveal the ugly side of his character. But then this is to be expected from a winning-machine like Mourinho. A chronically flawed professional who crosses any bridge possible to get his prize before irredeemably burning it to the ground. The thing is, there will always be an escape route for such a talented manager. There will always be another club who will let him walk all over them for three whirlwind years of success. Maybe we won’t have to wait for long to see which club that will be.