Gary Neville has warned that Chelsea’s poor start to the Premier League season no longer represents a mere “blip” for the reigning champions.
Chelsea had to come from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw with struggling Newcastle on Saturday, with the Blues missing out on the chance to close the gap to the top of the Premier League.
Manchester City started the weekend top and eight points clear of Jose Mourinho’s men, but their 4-1 defeat at Tottenham provided Chelsea a chance to make some ground on the deficit, but it was a chance they spurned.
The Blues have lost as many games in their opening seven last season as they did in all of their title-winning campaign, and Sky Sports pundit Neville believes this can no longer be explained as a “blip”.
“They had a massive opportunity on Saturday, absolutely massive,” he told Sky Sports. “City had been beaten earlier in the day, and they’ll still be looking at City and thinking ‘They’re the ones we have to catch’, I know United went top of the table, but they’ll be thinking how City were beaten earlier in the day.
“The boost that should have given that Chelsea team to fly out of the blocks in the first half, and to give the performance they did in that first-half is ridiculous.
“This is not a blip now, this is dragging on, and they need to come out of it. I’m not sure where that’s coming from but they need to get out of it pretty quickly.”
Neville has placed the onus on manager Mourinho to turn his side’s fortunes around, with the former Manchester United defender recalling how his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson would do the same when the Red Devils suffered similar lapses after winning the title.
“I remember times when you win the league, and it is quite normal the next season that you have a little dip at the start of the season,” Neville added.
“But I remember the manager would regularly come in after winning the league and say: ‘Right, you’re bored now, aren’t you? But you have got to get yourselves going.’
“Chelsea are in that position now, where Mourinho somehow has to get his message over to the players, or they have to wake up themselves and recognise it is not good enough. It is nowhere near good enough.”