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In defence of Mourinho: why Chelsea must stick with their manager

Bhargab Sarmah | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 7:34 IST

It has been a horrendous start to the season for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea Football Club. The Premier League holders have crashed out of the League Cup, managed just one win out of three games in the group stages of the Champions League (against minnows Maccabi Tel Aviv), and lost six of their 11 games in the Premier League so far.

Only months after cruising to their first league title in five years, Chelsea have looked like a shadow of team that finished eight points ahead of second placed Manchester City last season. The recent defeat against Liverpool particularly came as a bitter pill for the club. The defending champions were dominated at home by a team that had itself been struggling to get their season going.

The knives are already out for Jose Mourinho. Speculation is rife that the Portuguese tactician could soon be sacked from the club. His post match media briefing following the Liverpool game on Saturday gave an image of a defeated man. However, despite the club's poor start to the season, it will still be foolish of Chelsea to part ways with the most successful manager in their history.

Sacking Mourinho could lead to instability

Club owner Roman Abramavich has never hesitated when it comes to getting rid of misfiring managers. Mourinho was shown the door in 2007 after a poor start to the season. The likes of Scolari, Ancelotti and Villas Boas were sacked in the subsequent years. The current situation with Mourinho evokes memories of the 2007-08 season. The only difference being that the club's performances have been worse this term, as compared to the start of that season.

However, parting ways with Mourinho could only harm the club in the long run. One needs to go back to the period of 2007-2013, the time frame between Mourinho's departure and return to the club. Chelsea won a league and a Champions League title, among others, but were chasing the two Manchester clubs for most of the period, in terms of performances in the league.

While Roberto di Matteo led the club to a famous European Cup triumph in 2012, Chelsea's performance was pitiful in the league for quite some time. In 2013, Mourinho returned and managed to reinstate Chelsea's status as one of the main title challengers in England. They were champions in his second season. Then earlier this summer, Chelsea made the same mistake that winners of the last six league titles have made: a failure to strengthen a league winning squad in the transfer market.

A disastrous pre-season campaign didn't help, and Chelsea were very clearly well off the pace, compared to other Premier League teams, when the season started. It will be ignorant to say that Mourinho hasn't had a hand in all of this. However, letting the Portuguese manager go will create the same long-term instability that his 2007 departure led to. Mourinho, at the very least, deserves a full season to clear up his mess at the club.

Only Mourinho can lead the club out of the current crisis

In 2010, Mourinho's Real Madrid was handed a 5-0 battering by Barcelona in the league. It was sheer humiliation for the Spanish giants and for Mourinho. Yet, in a season's time, the Portuguese manager masterminded Real Madrid's first league title win in four seasons, snatching the league from Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, which was undoubtedly one of the finest football teams in the history of the sport.

If history has taught us anything, it is that great managers like Mourinho always find a way to pull their teams out of crisis situations. Even Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United went through a similar situation in the 2001-02 season. After winning the league in the three previous seasons, the club was lingering at ninth in the league table in December after 15 games in 2001.

They recovered to finish third at the end of the season, even leading the league table at one point in the second half of the season. United went on to win the title in the following campaign. It will be disrespectful and ignorant to suggest that a similar recovery will be beyond the means of Mourinho and Chelsea.

Then, of course, there lies the small matter of paying Jose Mourinho a compensation of 30 million pounds in case Abramovich does decide to part ways with the manager. At a time when the club has reined in on its extravagant spending, and has plans to expand its stadium, Mourinho's sacking will come as a huge financial blow to Chelsea.

What next for Mourinho?

While Jose Mourinho's brilliance as a football manager can not be undermined, his inability to deal with the press during his bad days is more than evident than now. The two-time European Cup-winning manager has done no favours to himself by being overly-critical of match officials, at one point even suggesting that there has been a 'campaign against Chelsea'.

The 52-year old has also taken potshots at rival manager Arsene Wenger, continuing what has been more than a decade-long feud between the two men, despite the latter refusing to get involved in the verbal mud-slinging on most occasions. While Mourinho must be lauded for continuously defending his players all this while, he could probably do himself a world of good by keeping a low-profile in front of the British media.

Today, Chelsea lie at the bottom half of the table, just four points above the relegation zone. If there is one manager in the world who could lead a revival, then it must be Jose Mourinho, considering his relation with the club, and his own footballing mastery. More than any other period in their history, Chelsea Football Club and Roman Abramovich must today stand by their struggling manager.

First published: 2 November 2015, 8:26 IST
Bhargab Sarmah @BhargabSarmah

An avid fan of the beautiful game since his childhood, Bhargab has been writing about football in India for the last three years. He supports I-League club Shillong Lajong, as well as English giants Manchester United. Having recently graduated with a degree in commerce, he now writes about football and other sports at Catch.