Jose Mourinho’s situation at Chelsea is reminiscent of 2007 when he left Stamford Bridge, but could he move on again and would the potential lure of the England job be too good to refuse?
Mourinho infamously got the sack at the Bridge in 2007 and it was a dismissal that came like a bolt from the blue. There was no talk in the media about the ‘Special One’ leaving before he was dismissed on 20 September, 2007 and the majority of the press coverage included the word “shock” in their headlines.
Mourinho’s bust-up with owner Roman Abramovich over the direction of the club was the reason for his departure with the Portuguese manager reportedly daring Abramovich to sack him. The Russian billionaire did just that, although the official statement mentioned a “mutual agreement”, while The Telegraph at the time reported Mourinho had in fact resigned.
The final nails in his Chelsea coffin back then were a defeat at Aston Villa and a goalless draw with Blackburn at Stamford Bridge – a result which meant he had overseen the Blues’ worst start to a Premier League campaign since 2001 – he has since surpassed that unwanted statistic this time around.
Chelsea’s weekend defeat at Everton now means you have to trawl back to 1986-87 to find a worse start in the top flight, when they eventually finished 14th, while they have now equalled their tally of defeats (three) from the whole of 2014-15 afterjust five games this term.
The champions’ fragile defence has seen them concede 12 goals – the most in the Premier League so far – and they lie just two points above the relegation zone, but unlike 2007, talk of Mourinho leaving this time around has been intense.
The bookies have quoted him as short as 5/2 to leave the club before the end of the season, while he is third favourite to ‘win’ the Premier League sack race behind Brendan Rodgers and Dick Advocaat.
Post Goodison Park, after which he claimed he was feeling no pressure, Mourinho was heard saying “f***** hell” after interrupting Roberto Martinez, who was conducting his media interviews ahead of the Chelsea boss. Mourinho was hoping for a quick getaway back to the capital, despite claiming he thought his men had been hard done by despite only registering two shots on target to Everton’s nine.
“We deserve a better result and we played for a better result. We didn’t deserve this,” said Mourinho.
In truth though, ignoring Nemaja Matic’s wonderful strike from 25 yards, they rarely looked like breaking through an Everton defence brilliantly marshalled by Chelsea target John Stones.
However, Mourinho has a brilliant knack of changing the focus from his under-achieving team to external factors. Chelsea were poor against Everton, but claiming they “deserved” more suggests they were not architects of their own downfall.
Similarly after his dismissal in 2007, Mourinho levelled the blame at the officials: “Why was the goal disallowed? You must ask the linesman,” he said. “I told him that I’m waiting for his phone call to apologise – and Mr Hackett too. But I’m not going to ask. The game is over. We lost the points.”
Ignoring the “shock factor” or lack of it this time around, there are definite similarities with the then and now. Mourinho’s desire to work abroad was evident eight years ago. He had a burning desire to manage in Italy and Spain – a desire he fulfilled by winning Serie A titles and La Liga titles with Inter Milan and Real Madrid respectively.
What is Mourinho’s burning desire now?
What exactly is his burning desire now? According to Piers Morgan in his diary of the GQ Man of the Year Awards, Mourinho could be in line to manage his beloved Arsenal – when Arsene Wenger moves on. Morgan is of course an outspoken detractor of Wenger and so he was obviously chasing any glimmer of hope from Mourinho of taking The Emirates top job.
“Let me put it like this: one day I will leave Chelsea and when I do I will continue living in London” Mourinho told Morgan.
“There are a number of other opportunities for a manager in London – Fulham, QPR, West Ham, Spurs, the England national team… and Arsenal.”
Mourinho to Arsenal seems far fetched, but the England job however – that is a totally different ball game and might be the one and only job that Mourinho would leave Chelsea for. Having won the Champions League twice and won titles in Portugal, Spain, Italy and England, the international stage might be the next logical step for Mourinho’s 15-year managerial career.
But having patched up his relationship with Abramovich second time around, will he quit or be pushed for a second time in the near future?
According to the man himself, unequivocally no. Speaking ahead of the 3-1 defeat at Everton he claimed: “If somebody thinks that I walk, or I leave the job, it’s somebody that doesn’t know me.
“Chelsea fans know me for good and for bad and that’s not my profile, to run away from problems, in this case to run away from bad results.”
However, the very fact he labelled himself the ‘Special One’ in his first tenure suggested a high level of self-absorption and he’s maintained that self focus ever since. In fact Manuel Pellegrini described him as an egomaniac earlier this summer and if the England job comes up after Euro 2016 then there might well be one high-profile candidate putting his name forward.