Mourinho still the right man for Chelsea

You can fly high one season and be down the next. That’s the name of the game. For Jose Mourinho, the fun probably is in the challenge to rise again. It needs to be highlighted that he is a master of taking the pressure off his players and putting it on himself. Chelsea need to start winning games and there are not many better than Mourinho who can help the west London club do that.

Chelsea fans show their support for Jose Mourinho during the Blues match against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.   -  REUTERS

Chelsea, under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho, cantered to the Premier League title last season, riding on the good form of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic. The team was defensively solid as well, a prerequisite of any Mourinho team, and conceded only 32 goals, scoring 73. Chelsea finished eight points ahead of second-placed Manchester City and their total domination had also made them the bookmakers’ favourite for the 2015-16 title.

The season, however, has, so far, been far from perfect and the Blues have lost six of their opening 11 matches. Chelsea look disjointed and tentative, a far cry from the marauding outfit of last season. The ills of the team were partially visible towards the end of the last season, as players like Fabregas, Costa wore a fatigued look after a long and gruelling campaign. Chelsea’s starting XI played an excess of 30 games last term.

To counter that, Mourinho started his preseason work a bit later than most Premier League clubs and that seems to have backfired for Chelsea. A few unfavourable results at the start of the current campaign affected the psyche of the players and it’s very difficult for a team to come out of such a situation.

The famed Chelsea backline has already conceded 22 goals and in a desperate attempt to plug the holes, Mourinho has even dropped his captain John Terry, who has been infallible for so long, but is now showing signs of age. Age catches up with everyone eventually, inevitably. I know that from experience.

A player like Terry deserves all the praise for being able to play at such a high level for such a long time. Most players finish their careers at an early age. After leading from the front for so long, Terry, these days, might need some help from his fellow defenders from time to time.

But players like him, who are always up for a fight, can be only one good game away from regaining lost confidence. Chelsea need to start winning games, keep clean sheets to gain back momentum and perseverance. The bad start to the season has resonated ill-feeling throughout the team. I see a huge lack of “team spirit” and they really need to work as a team to come out of it. Each and every Chelsea player needs to look at himself first, his performances, before anything can be rectified.

The EPL is one of the hardest leagues in the world and it is hard to stay on top year in and year out. For players too, it’s not humanly possible to show the same form every season.

Eden Hazard, who has had a few good seasons, is having a rough year this time round. That’s the mystery of football. Costa too is yet to find form.

Costa, Chelsea’s highest scorer last term, in my opinion, is a world class player. But much like Hazard, the opposition now knows what to expect of him. They have figured out ways to counter him and he often reacts wrongly to it. But I would never try to take that aggression or passion out of him because that is what makes him a great player.

Colombian Radamel Falcao, their other high profile striker, is trying to rediscover his old swagger. Falcao has been fantastic in Europe with Porto and Atletico Madrid. The EPL, however, is a whole different ballgame and he failed to fire for Manchester United last season. The gamble is not working for Chelsea as well. He surely has the talent to deliver, but he has to prove himself and show good work ethic.

It’s always hard to adapt to a different environment. I had a tough time adjusting when I moved to Italy to play for Juventus in 1986. No matter how good you are, a new environment can most definitely inhibit your performance. But when a club puts its faith in you, then you have to deliver.

The injury to Chelsea’s No. 1 shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois has also plagued the club. It has led to a lot of scrutiny of Chelsea’s decision to allow Petr Cech to move to Arsenal. I think it was the right thing to do.

Cech had served the club so well for so long and Mourinho rightly gave him the chance to move on and become No. 1 elsewhere.

The Portuguese manager continues to polarise opinions and his frequent outbursts have not helped the cause of his team. Every manager gets frustrated when they’re not winning. It is easy to adopt a short fuse attitude, but in situations like this, you have to work harder with everyone. Everyone is human at the end of the day and Mourinho is no different. You can fly high one season and be down the next. That’s the name of the game.

During certain points in anyone’s career, in my opinion, constant success gets a trifle boring. For Mourinho, the fun probably is in the challenge to rise again. It needs to be highlighted that he is a master of taking the pressure off his players and putting it on himself. This is rare in this day and for that I admire him.

I see no immediate threat to his job and if there’s a departure it will be amicable. Roman Abramovich is entitled to do what he wants, but Mourinho has been good for him.

Roman will surely take that into account and respect it. Chelsea need to start winning games and there are not many better than Mourinho who can help the west London club do that.