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Chelsea - Close to Crisis?

Friday 30th October 2015
As Eden Hazard's decisive penalty kick was saved by Jack Butland in Tuesday's League Cup tie, Chelsea crashed out of the competition and left Stoke with just one win in the last seven games.

Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, is attempting to resolve the most uncertain time in his coaching career as last year's Premier League winners continue to falter. But is the most decorated football manager of the last decade really on the brink? His name is currently top of the manager sackrace where he is the favourite to the next to go in the managerial merry-go-round.

As the league campaign began in August, the warning signs had been there for Chelsea throughout the summer. After failing to win a single game in pre-season, they opened with five league games in which they conceded twelve goals. Mourinho looked to change course very quickly as he substituted his ever-present captain, John Terry, after just forty five minutes of the punishing 3-0 defeat at Manchester City. Some said it was message to the Chelsea hierarchy, citing a lack of recruitment and progression from the previous season. Others however, including Mourinho himself, pointed out tactical reasoning – still somewhat jarring for a player that led his team to the title, playing every minute in the process.

The removal of his skipper at half time came after a week of highly publicised controversy, following the clash with and subsequent removal of first team doctor Eva Carneiro. The Chelsea boss was widely castigated for his initial bust up with Carneiro, and this public behaviour smacked of a man looking to regain control. Chelsea have lost half of their games since the departure of their former medical staff.

When the ‘Special One' returned to these shores in 2013 he appeared a mellowed character, wiser for his box office appearances in Italy and Spain. But slowly, Jose has drifted from the stylish and cunning persona with which he captured the imagination of the British press in his first spell. Often agitated by questioning, prickly in the defence of his own ability, Mourinho cannot easily conceal his sense of bewilderment at current results.
Yes, it is an unprecedented run of results for Jose Mourinho, but it is also a level of performance that these Chelsea players have never previously sunk to.

Rarely has anyone been able to dispute Chelsea's defensive solidity or, as per last season's precession to the Premier League, attacking prowess. Until now that is. With John Terry's selection still sporadic and a badly out of form Branislav Ivanovic sidelined by injury, the once dependable core of the Blues has faded. The unsettling of those foundations looks to have weakened Nemanja Matic's dominance and the mesmeric control that Cesc Fabregas would have on a game. The mystery of Hazard's form continues to puzzle those that watch from the terraces every week but, even by his own admittance, the Belgian returned late to pre-season jaded after nearly twelve months of solid football. Despite an improved performance, his missed penalty defined Chelsea's under par season so far.

Ten games in, Chelsea sit 15th in the Premier League table with just eleven points. No side has ever finished in the top four after starting the season in this fashion. The concoction of underperforming players and a manager struggling to comprehend the worst start to a season under his watch has the sharks circling. The media that once lauded Mourinho are awaiting a big headline, with fans of other clubs throughout the country taking solace in the Champions' fall from grace.

Surely at 52 years old, Jose Mourinho will continue to have success as an elite coach in world football but the question remains as to whether or not that will be at Stamford Bridge.
James Dean
A lover of football. Season ticket holder at Sheffield Wednesday and known as the "Andrea Pirlo of the North".

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