Jose: difficult journeys and new beginnings
So it finally happened. Perhaps the major surprise is that it took as long as it did. In my view...
So it finally happened. Perhaps the major surprise is that it took as long as it did. In my view, not far behind in the surprise stakes was the choice to weald the axe on a Thursday afternoon, just 48 hours before a crucial match. But as the popular view would have it, you can never predict what will happen next in the soap opera that is Chelsea Football Club. Eastenders, eat your heart out.
I guess I have noticed a pattern in how Chelsea fans view the whole saga. Or more accurately, I realise that we're all at different stages on a difficult journey. For myself, as we lunged from one crisis (and one false start) to another, I started off on a 'support Mourinho' tack, whilst at the same time acknowledging that he was handling things with the finesse of Tyson Fury at times. I then 'progressed' to an increasingly frustrated phase, seeing him (for example) persist with out of form players, and also trying to push away the nagging feeling that I was witnessing one of the most spectacular collapses by a team who are reigning Premiership champions. I love Jose, how can I turn against him? However, in the last 2 weeks, I could no longer ignore the plain facts, culminating in Monday nights terrible capitulation at Leicester. It seemed plain to me - the strange win at home to Porto aside - that we were watching a supposed 'dynasty' crumble before our very eyes. I reacted emotionally in my last article 'Enough is Enough', though I stand by the points I raised in that piece. Just a couple of days later, the end of Jose's time had come.
For the record, I have also felt sad about it, even though I believe it is the right decision. How can I not feel sad? This is Jose for goodness sake. Our most successful manager ever. Period. But things have been disintegrating at an alarming rate, and I ask the question, in all honesty, what else could Roman have done in the circumstances? I believe he has shown patience. The most telling statement - admittedly handled by Mr Emenalo with all the sensitivity of the proverbial bull in a china shop - was the 'palpable discord' that existed between manager and players. Jose Mourinho to you, Mr Emenalo. I cannot disagree with that statement - that discord has been staring us in the face for weeks on end. Never, in the history of the Premier League, has a defence by the reigning champions been so pitiful. So pitiful, that relegation has become a real possibility, however 'over emotional' that might sound. I agree with those who say the players have to take some responsibility - that is obvious - but by Jose saying that he managed to get them to play at a higher level than they would naturally have reached last season, he is also condemning himself, because it is the same manager who has not been able to get a tune out of the same players this season.
The journey has been a hard one. When the end finally came - despite it's inevitability - it was scary too. As I write this, it seems cut and dried that Guus Hiddink will once again take the managerial reigns on a temporary basis. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It was a very different ( and far more established) team that he took over last time and he is now 69 years old. I hope, for Chelsea's sake, that it all works out. I have to trust that it will. It has before; and at the end of the day, it is all about Chelsea.