Chelsea’s victory in the Champions League last night came as a massive relief to everyone at the club. The Blues once again looked headed for a disappointing result at home, as Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kiev equalised with less than 15 minutes to go. But Willian stepped up and scored a glorious 30-yard free-kick to give his side the three points and push them up to second in the group with two games left to play.
There were talks after the game about how Chelsea may have turned a corner, but the recovery to their dreadful start to the season will be a long-drawn process. They have to take it one game at a time, and the trip to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday to take on Stoke City will undoubtedly be a difficult one.
The defending champions looked close to unstoppable last season, losing just 3 games in the league throughout. This year, with only 11 games played, they’ve already lost 6 and are 15th in the table. Things are more than just wrong.
Who’s to blame amidst all this? There have several (albeit inconclusive) rumours doing the rounds of Jose Mourinho getting the sack sooner rather than later. This is clearly the lowest point ever in the Portuguese’s stunningly illustrious career, and it remains to be seen whether he gets the time and the opportunity to rectify the mess.
Here, we analyse three parties who are collectively responsible for Chelsea’s downfall. After all, going from 1st to 15th in a matter of months cannot just be down to one group.
1) The players
When each and every one of last season’s superstars’ form has dropped like a stone, there is not much a manager can do. The likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic and John Terry were absolute stalwarts last year, but have been downright poor this time around. Barring Willian and Cesar Azpilicueta, everyone has been below-par. The lack of fight and spirit shown by the team has been quite embarrassing to see, and it raises the question of whether there are enough big characters left in the dressing room now that Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech have left.
It is these individuals that really need to step it up going forwards. They need to get stuck into their opposition and show that they really want to turn this around. A slip from top spot to 2nd or 3rd can probably be justified under the ‘complacency’ tag, but being just 4 points away from the relegation zone is an absolute scandal for a squad with such talent.
2) The board
Mourinho identified these potential problems last season, and gave a list of targets to the club’s management well before the 2014/15 campaign ended. While the official list of players has not been made public, it is rumoured to have consisted the likes of John Stones, Koke, Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann. Chelsea have faced a big problem in the central areas of defence, midfield and attack, and this is something the manager foresaw. The board though, could not land any top target in the summer, with the only notable incoming being Pedro from Barcelona.
3) Jose Mourinho
We can look at Mourinho’s past record and shelter him from a lot of blame, but the fact remains that this incredible collapse at Chelsea Football Club has been overseen by him. It would also be safe to say that had he been anyone else, Roman Abramovitch wouldn’t have thought twice before wielding the axe.
Mourinho has been negative in his post-match interviews, blaming referees after his teams have clearly been second-best. There is no concrete evidence of him having lost the dressing room, but a large number of individuals haven’t looked anywhere close to their best. His tactics at the weekend against Liverpool were also suspect, as Chelsea sat back and defended after taking a 4th minute lead. This allowed the Reds to easily play their way back into the game and eventually win 3-1.
He has to sort his game out, and soon.
Who do you think is majorly at fault for Chelsea’s disastrous season so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.