Out of Europe, missing out on the domestic cups, likely to finish third in the Premier League and with the star player apparently unhappy with the style of play. Chelsea have often been considered to be in crisis for less.
Indeed, Carlo Ancelotti was sacked in the Goodison Park tunnel in 2011 after leading his team to a second place finish in the table, a year on from securing the double displaying the best football that the club has played in recent memory. Three years later his Real Madrid side are in the Champions League final, and Chelsea are not.
That is because Jose Mourinho and the Blues became the latest victims of the vibrant, counter-attacking force that is Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge in midweek, as Diego Simeone and his players took advantage of an apparent overconfidence in the home players which appeared to be there after their drawn first leg, and was definitely there when Fernando Torres scored the first goal of the tie.
Mourinho would never admit that, of course, and at least the Portuguese found the good grace to truthfully say that his side weren’t the better one on the night, but the feeling that this was a huge missed opportunity couldn’t be escaped. For all of their excellence, Atletico could have been beaten.
Yet they weren’t, and for one so confident Mourinho has been left looking a little foolish.
With the Premier League title seemingly bound for the north-west and either Manchester City or Liverpool, Chelsea are now left on the outside looking in.
Given the experiences of Rafael Benitez at the club last season, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that any manager other than Mourinho would have been turned on by now. Chelsea probably won’t win a trophy this season, they lost at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, and at home to Sunderland in shameful circumstances. Win all of those, or in fact just pick up five or six points, and the league could have been theirs for the taking.
Indeed, their fans would probably tell you that their club’s best achievement of the campaign was popping Liverpool’s increasingly inflating title balloon with their obdurate display at Anfield last weekend. Crashing a party is all well and good, but surely Chelsea supporters expected more when Mourinho made his second coming at the club in the summer?
With City having already got a trophy on board and still in with a huge chance of picking up the main one, whilst Liverpool have been overachieving beyond surely even their wildest dreams, this has to stack up as a strange season for Chelsea, but to see that you have to get beyond the enormity of Mourinho’s influence which seemingly blocks everything else out.
Get beyond that bluster, that braying and that sense that he wants you to believe that the world is against him and you’ll see that the Portuguese has made mistakes.
Admittedly there might not have been much he could have done about Thibaut Courtois being allowed to go on loan to Atletico for a third straight season, but his treatment of another couple of Belgians might end up coming back to haunt him.
Surely Chelsea could have done with Romelu Lukaku’s goals this season rather than have simply sat and watched him excel at Everton, and whilst Eden Hazard has been excellent for Mourinho during this campaign, their current public spat is the kind of thing that surfaces just before a parting of the ways.
Both players now surely distrust the manager, and so Mourinho needs to be careful, and to keep a lid on the situations at Chelsea rather than just putting himself at the front and centre of all of them.
Because as he’s shown before, Roman Abramovich won’t be slow to act if he discovers that something is wrong.
Something, or someone.
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