Jose Mourinho Is Losing The Psychological Battle
Back in September, I wrote a blog entry entitled “The Beginning of The End for Jose Mourinho,” where the piece criticized Chelsea’s performances at the start of the Premiership season and mentioned that they were playing more like Real Madrid of last season than Man United of this. I also forewarned that Mourinho’s head “could be on the chopping block by Christmas unless the Blues can turn around their season.”While the remarks seemed quite incredulous in September (read that comments section), they now appear to be eerily close to reality.If you get a chance, watch Jose Mourinho’s interview from after the Wycombe Wanderers match that appeared on Wednesday’s “Through The Night” programme from Sky (which will be replayed on Thursday). You’ll see a changed man from last season. He has noticeably large dark circles under his eyes. His body language and voice is significantly much less confident than in previous seasons or even earlier this season. His appearance looks disheveled, too.This is obviously a manager under a huge amount of stress. Look at Sir Alex Ferguson in constrast, and Fergie looks as perky and content as he has ever done. Confidence seems to exude from Ferguson, and from a body language perspective, Ferguson appears to be winning the psychological battle.Ferguson, meanwhile, must be licking his chops that Mourinho’s mind games has now turned to his Chelsea board of directors rather than being aimed at Man United. Peter Kenyon’s trip to China and his meeting with Guus Hiddink has cast obvious doubt over Mourinho’s position at Chelsea, and Jose must know his job is in jeopardy.Mourinho’s only saving grace is to win a Champions League trophy. That’s if he and his team can make it that far. Chelsea’s form on the pitch has drifted into unchartered territory for Jose (in the past 5 games, they’ve won 1, drawn 4 and lost none — and two of those matches were against Macclesfield and Wycombe). The team needs to regain its winning form, and fast, in order to be mentally and physically prepared for the away match versus Porto on February 21st.Luckily for Chelsea, their opposition between now and the Porto match includes Wigan, Liverpool, Wycombe, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn, Charlton and Middlesbrough. Chelsea needs to win all of these matches comfortably.In the past few weeks, I’ve listened to seven or eight journalists saying the same thing about the title race and how United still had to visit some of the top teams away in the second half of the season, and warned what would happen to United’s form if a few key players would get injured such as Ronaldo and Scholes.Each time I heard a reporter say that, though, I cringed. That’s because it doesn’t matter what happens near the tail end of the season. What matters most is now. If Chelsea slips further away from United in terms of points difference, then that his severe psychological implications for Chelsea.Sure, injuries to two or three United stars would have an impact on their team, but by the way they’re playing now and with the self-belief they have, I could see Man United overcoming those obstacles.At the end of the day, I blame Chelsea’s board more so than Mourinho for Chelsea’s lack of form on the pitch. Ballack and Shevchenko have been flops (and were supposedly selected by Abramovich against Mourinho’s will). And now Peter Kenyon’s antics in China is causing stress inside the Chelsea camp when it’s the last thing the Blues need.I don’t believe the battle is over for Chelsea, but two things need to happen quickly. The board of directors needs to come clean with Jose Mourinho and iron out all of the issues as well as providing him with transfer money to spend in the January window. And Jose needs to work his magic on the sidelines with the players he has (for now) and get Chelsea back to winning ways. If either of these things don’t happen, Chelsea Football Club will be in severe trouble (by their standards).