‘Special One’ in a special mess!

He’s done it again, hasn’t he? The ‘Special One’ has become everyone’s favourite villain again. He’s blamed the referees, he’s blamed his players, and he’s contesting yet another FA charge. But what exactly has contributed to Chelsea’s worst start to a season in living memory?

The ‘Special One’ needs to find a special way out of the mess he finds Chelsea and himself in. Otherwise, the Russian Roulette will start spinning again at Stamford Bridge.   -  Reuters

He’s done it again, hasn’t he? The ‘Special One’ has become everyone’s favourite villain again. Jose Mourinho has blamed the referees; he’s blamed his players, and he’s contesting yet another FA charge. But what exactly has contributed to Chelsea’s worst start to a season in living memory?

Blackburn Rovers were the last defending champions to have 11 points on the board from their opening 10 games. Chelsea find themselves in exactly the same position. Defeat to West Ham during the weekend was their fifth in the league this season, which is more than the number of games they lost the whole of last season. And to rub salt into their wounds, Chelsea were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Stoke City on penalties. So who is to blame for this shambolic state the Premier League champions find themselves in?

Let us start with the defence. Chelsea’s defence was rock solid last season and they conceded just 32 goals over the course of 10 months. This season, they have already let in 19 goals in the opening 10 fixtures.

John Terry was brilliant last season but he is nowhere close to that kind of form this time around. Cesar Azpilicueta was played out of position at left back but still excelled. He too is struggling to replicate those performances. The less said about Branislav Ivanovic the better.

Yet Mourinho stuck with Ivanovic for far longer than he should have. Terry got the axe, but results continued in the same vein. Left-back Baba Rahman was signed for a hefty sum but has rarely featured despite being the only natural left-sided defender in the squad. Kurt Zouma is being used in a different position every game.

If Chelsea had managed to sign John Stones from Everton, things may have turned out differently. But even then, nobody in their right mind would have expected such defensive frailty from a team coached by a man who has won trophies built from the back.

Moving on to midfield, the normally reliable Nemanja Matic was Chelsea’s best player after Eden Hazard last season. Honestly, he has looked quite out of his depth in the last few months. Rash challenges resulting in needless bookings, faulty positioning and bad decision-making have seen Matic go from being one of the first names on the team sheet to a liability.

Cesc Fabregas started last season in blistering form, raking up assist after assist till the turn of the year when his form faded away. By the looks of it, he is still looking for that form. It seems to have completely deserted him; so poor have been his performances. Injuries to Oscar haven’t helped his cause either.

Even last season’s Player of the Year Eden Hazard seems to have been affected by the “poor form” bug. The man who usually beats defenders for fun has had absolutely no joy this season. Whatever he has tried has not come off and his frustration leads to him going missing for long periods during the game.

Pedro’s arrival from Barcelona was supposed to add another dimension to Chelsea’s game but after an encouraging start, he too has faded away with negligible contribution.

Up top, Diego Costa has huffed, puffed and tried to battle his way towards goal, but to no avail. Lack of good service means he has had to drop deeper to collect the ball, and that just does not suit his physical game. Radamel Falcao’s performances have not turned any heads either, so much so that Loic Remy has overtaken him in the pecking order.

Mourinho knows all this better than all of us. He has tried dropping his stars, blaming them in public and even launched scathing attacks on referees to perhaps divert the attention away from his team’s poor performances. But nothing has worked.

His comments and outbursts have incurred the wrath of the FA and things could go from bad to worse, if they haven’t already. Whispers of a rift in the dressing room have been put to bed and the players have publicly backed Mourinho.

After the defeat to Southampton at the beginning of the month, Mourinho came out and said there was no one better than him to do this job. Purely based on his CV, he wasn’t wrong. However, the ‘Special One’ needs to find a special way out of the mess that he and Chelsea are in. Otherwise, the Russian Roulette will start spinning again at Stamford Bridge.

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