So that’s that then. Four months of the most shocking meltdown since Michael Douglas in Falling Down are over, and our weekends have got a bit less entertaining.
There’ll be no more of those post-match monologues to a dumbstruck Geoff Shreeves or whoever it is following the latest Stamford Bridge defeat to whoever turned up – Southampton, Liverpool, Bournemouth, anyone really. Scunthorpe United’s win over Leyton Orient in the FA Cup on Tuesday meant that the Iron will be going there in the New Year. Perhaps the thought of losing to them was the final straw.
In all seriousness, it is easy to joke about Jose Mourinho’s spectacular fall from grace at Chelsea because he’s made it easy for us to do so.
His often deplorable behaviour was – using football logic – easy to overlook for many last season because his side deservedly ran away with the Premier League title. Eden Hazard was mesmeric, Diego Costa imperious and John Terry reborn. Nemanja Matic gloriously stampeded his way through football matches like the Ghostbusters’ Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in New York City. Chelsea were the best team in the league by a country mile, and deserved to win it by more than eight points.
But after wringing so much effort out of a squad of largely ageing players, Mourinho was hardly going to find himself a popular figure when those same players reconvened for 2015/16 and he started barking his demanding orders at them again.
Blame those players if you want – and they certainly deserve their fair share – but the failure to re-motivate, re- condition and re-shape his now successful squad was all Mourinho’s fault. His summer signings hardly inspired, and in the case of the doubtless regretful Pedro they just didn’t seem suited to his gameplan.
It’s the reason why Mourinho never lasts too long wherever he is, and why his hopes of ‘building a legacy’ at Chelsea – in the manner of his hero Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United – are never going to come to pass unless he changes his ways.
After a while in his presence this current, control-freak version of Mourinho just becomes, well, an irritant. Ask anyone from a fourth official to a ballboy or a medical professional just doing her job.
There’s little doubt that the quite scandalous row with Dr Eva Carneiro following the 2-2 draw with Swansea City on the opening day of the campaign cast a shadow over Chelsea’s season which is still there today. Suddenly Mourinho seemed to lose the respect of his players, who he needed to keep onside if he was going to once again drill his relentless ways of winning into them.
The modern footballer is quite a sensitive soul, and once that trust evaporated then there was only one way that Chelsea were going and that was down the table.
Miserable defeat followed miserable defeat, and with only the solace of a simple Champions League group to sustain him, the manager lost more and more control.
His outburst following the defeat at Leicester City on Monday night – a result which left Chelsea just a point outside the relegation zone – would appear to have sealed his fate.
Mourinho singled out the likes of Hazard, Costa and Cesc Fabregas for criticism, whilst claiming that his squad of superstars must believe that they ‘were at the same level’ as their next two opponents Sunderland and Watford if they wanted to get a result.
His repeated use of the word ‘betrayal’ when referring to defensive errors from Kurt Zouma and Cesar Azpilicueta suggested that the pair had somehow slighted him personally rather than just failed to track Jamie Vardy or close down Riyad Mahrez. This was an all-out war now.
But now by removing the toxic Mourinho from the picture, Chelsea have given themselves room to breathe. The players will start feeling good about themselves again and will probably finish in the top half at least.
The Portuguese is a very, very good manager, and one who deserves his place at the very top table of the European game.
He just needs to chill out a bit from time to time. He can’t control everything.