Chelsea desperately needs leader Jose Mourinho


José Mourinho is a fantastic coach. His record speaks for itself. He’s a winner. He’s won all over Europe, in many competitions, with several different teams. Everywhere he’s gone, titles and trophies have followed.

His time managing in the Premier League has been no different. In his first spell as Chelsea manager, he won back-to-back titles (the only manager besides Sir Alex Ferguson to do so) and went on to win several domestic cup trophies. Reaching the semifinal of the Champions League became an expectation. What Mourinho did for Chelsea is undeniable: replacing seasons of hope and doubt with those of expectation and confidence.

His 2007 departure was followed by several years of uncertainty and, despite winning trophies, the several stand-in managers Roman Abramovich hired and subsequently sacked were never long-term replacements. The feeling of relief Chelsea fans enjoyed when the club announced Mourinho’s return was palpable. The glory days had returned. Chelsea were destined for a decade of greatness. Or so they thought.

MORE MOU: Club support | Will leave if players lose faith | Punishment predicted

In his first spell at the Bridge, the Portuguese had a team not only packed with world-class stars but brimming with team leaders. In fact, in Michael Ballack, John Terry, Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien – each captain of their respective national teams during his first tour at Chelsea – he had players who could handle the pressure of being expected to perform consistently. Not only could they handle the pressure, they could maintain the fundamentals of his coaching style in the locker room while exhibiting an unwavering belief in themselves and the manager’s philosophy. These players set the tone for the rest of the team, making themselves examples to follow for younger and newer players at the club.

As Mourinho has admitted, in this current Chelsea team, there are few leaders. The departures of Frank Lampard ahead of last season as well as Petr Cech and Didier Drogba during the summer window has seen John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic become the final vestiges of the Blues’ old guard. Last season, Mourinho could rely not only on their leadership but also their fine play. Drogba scored in each match he was given a start, most notably at Old Trafford. Despite no longer being the starter, when called upon, Cech performed impressively. Terry and Ivanovic were top class. The former played every single minute of the Blues’ 38 Premier League matches and the latter scored several crucial goals and showed a dependable consistency in defense.

LOOKING FORWARD: 7 potential Mourinho landing spots.

This season, Ivanovic has struggled and Terry has rarely seen the field, but not simply because Mourinho has relegated him to the bench. His red card challenge against West Bromwich Albion, undisputed by the Chelsea manager, guaranteed he would miss the next match (the 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace) and forced Mourinho to experiment with his already fragile backline. Worst of all, it highlighted Terry’s most commonly noted flaw: he’s no speedster, especially on the turn. In both the red card incident at the Hawthorns and for Sadio Mané’s goal and Southampton’s second this past weekend, he was out of position and off-balance.

Now, José desperately needs a leader. For so long, that person has been Terry. ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ as he’s so affectionately been dubbed by the Chelsea faithful, his time at the club could soon be up.

Despite Ivanovic’s poor showings at right back, he hasn’t been dropped. Chelsea fans were bewildered to see him not only starting but captaining the side during Terry’s absence. The Blues aren’t exactly short of options in defense, and Mourinho knows it. Against Macabbi Tel Aviv in the Champions League, the Chelsea boss started César Azpilicueta in his favored position, right back, and gave new signing Baba Rahman the nod at left back as the Blues cruised to a 4-0 victory. However, the Serb was returned to his starting spot in the side in the following match, a 2-0 victory against Arsenal. Through his persistence in starting Ivanovic, it’s been made clear that Mourinho sees the veteran defender as a team leader, charged with maintaining the club’s mentality and acting as a voice for Mourinho on the field and in the dressing room.

Here’s the thing: Mourinho doesn’t necessarily know how to handle this current situation. He’s been embroiled in controversy before – pitting himself against the FA, Arsène Wenger and his own medical staff, among others – but there’s something new happening. He’s losing, and he’s losing often. He can’t rely on the results to get him out of these messes, because results are not coming.

His comments following Chelsea’s 3-1 loss to Southampton were some of the most honest the Portuguese has spoken in his managerial career. Mourinho cemented his belief that not only were Chelsea going to return to their best but that he was not going to resign, by any means. He implored the club and the fans to stick together, recalling the Premier League and Capital One Cup trophies won just months ago. Lashing out at league referees, he reestablished the siege mentality. Acknowledging his massive ego, he asserted his pedigree stating that, should they sack him, Chelsea would be parting ways with the best possible manager for the job.

ALTERNATE VIEW: Why Chelsea must sack Mourinho now.

This was vulnerable José Mourinho. Gone was the arrogant, confident, wry smile he normally wears, replaced by a defiant candor. His comments about the referees will surely see him banned but, at this point, he doesn’t care. He took a gamble and it paid off. Rewarding him for his outspokenness, or perhaps sending a veiled warning, Chelsea released a statement on Monday stating that the club hierarchy is firmly behind the embattled manager and urging that the supporters do the same.

I feel it’s time for José to step up for the club he so professes to love. Sacking him would be silly (if not downright stupid), and suggesting it would be a naïve, knee-jerk reaction, the likes of which have seen seven managers come and go since 2008. That same trigger-happy mentality has been responsible for years of uncertainty at Chelsea and only reinforces the spend-heavy fickleness which had some supporters booing after the loss to Southampton.

The Blues need to stick with the Portuguese. As he said, Mourinho is the man for the job – the only man for the job. The patience he demands is warranted, but he needs to do several things in order to right the ship in West London.

He needs to motivate the players on the training ground. He needs to make bold changes. He needs to give younger players a chance to prove themselves. He needs to improve his pitch-side manner to convey the confidence players need to see in their coach. He needs to have the courage to drop those players who are underperforming.

Above all, he needs to be the essential presence currently absent in his side. Chelsea need a leader. It’s time that leader was José Mourinho.

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  1. Julius October 6, 2015
  2. Julius October 6, 2015

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