Spectre of Mourinho Remains as Chelsea Still Struggle


Today Guus Hiddink admitted that  Chelsea could become embroiled in a relegation battle if they lose to Everton and Arsenal in their next two games. The spectre of Jose Mourinho still looms large over the London club, who’s inconsistent form now opens up more questions than answers.

The champions are 14th after 21 games, 12 points off their stated target of fourth place and only six clear of Sunderland, who occupy the final relegation place.

Chelsea’s predicament prompted José Mourinho’s departure last month and Hiddink’s appointment.

The team are unbeaten in six games since Mourinho’s departure, when they were one point off the drop zone, but the midweek draw with West Bromwich Albion did little to ease concerns.

“It’s reality,” Hiddink said. “We were down when we started. We were one point off the relegation line, but now we have a little bit more room to breathe.

“We have two difficult games coming up – Everton, who have a very good away record – and then Arsenal. If you don’t gather points there, you don’t know what the others do. The Premier League can surprise you.

“There are 12 points difference to fourth place, which is Tottenham. We all like to look forward and to the top of the table, but also don’t be unrealistic – you’re six points off the line of relegation. That’s also a fact – Hiddink

“We have to work hard and be very concentrated and gather our points to step up. That’s why it was a pity that in the 86th minute we got this draw against West Brom, which would’ve helped us a lot to go up.”

Although the Blues are unbeaten since Hiddink has taken over, the 2-2 draw with West Brom signalled their defensive frailty and ill-focus which poisoned the final months of the Jose Mourinho era remain.

That now follows up with the obvious question: are the team actually not that good? Is it possible the league champions can fall off a cliff without losing any key players and it not be all their managers fault?

That was certainly the assertion from Chelsea fans: that Branislav Ivanovic had simply regressed massively, and not all that unexpectedly; that Cesc Fabregas might not be the consistent elite midfielder many believe is; or Nemanja Matic the world class defensive midfielder.

Such assertions may seem trite, but their performances have looked worse than simply that of players and a team who didn’t like their manager anymore. Perhaps it is this: Mourinho didn’t cause the team to fall apart, but helped a team become more than the sum of their parts, but could only carry them for a certain amount of time.

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All intriguing thoughts, but as ever, there are more questions than answers. Meanwhile Mourinho’s future looks less clear with Louis van Gaal having survived the sack for the passed few weeks.

Meanwhile famed Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio claims Jorge Mendes, arguably one of the most powerful men in world football, is working on a plan that will see former Real Madrid and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho head to Manchester.

It is understood the super-agent, who also represents Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria, hopes to persuade the Old Trafford hierarchy to appoint the Portuguese by oiling the wheels of a deal for Valencia’s playmaker Andre Gomes this summer.