Jose Mourinho thrown under the bus he parked


Mourinho looks set for his stint as an X Factor judge. ANSA/MATTEO BAZZI/DC

Chelsea have fired manager Jose Mourinho after he took the London club to 16th position in the Premier League after 16 games. The reigning champions have won just four matches this season whilst losing nine, meaning they sit just a single point above the relegation zone.

The decision by the Chelsea board seemed an obvious one. Your team isn’t doing well, especially considering the calibre of players that the Blues have, so you get rid of the man in charge.

The simple question is: why?

You can look at the failings of the club this season: 16th in the Premier League, a leaky defence, a misfiring front line and a lack of a League Cup run, and it all seems bad.  But in some form of cruel irony, Mourinho appears to have been thrown under the bus he parked.

The manager does have to take a certain degree of responsibility for Chelsea’s form in the last few months, but also a lot of it has to fall on his players. Let’s take a look at the main culprits:

Diego Costa – He banged in 20 league goals last season, but Costa has found the target just three times whilst picking up four yellow cards this time around.

Pedro – The Spaniard should have been a great signing as Chelsea looked to bolster their attack that scored 73 goals last season, but he has hit the back of the net just once in the league and has looked like a shadow of the player that was bought for £21 million.

The defence – John Terry and Gary Cahill formed one of the most formidable partnerships in recent years last season, but now they look like Terry has messed around with Cahill’s missus and don’t want to know each other. Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta have been mediocre at best, whilst Kurt Zouma has been unsurprisingly poor, which are all contributing factors to Chelsea conceding a sixth-worst 26 goals this season.

The list continues with the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Oscar also not performing in the way everyone knows they can. Mind you, they’re probably all sick of Jose telling everyone to get behind the ball and park the bus instead of actually attacking, which is a tactic that would work for them this season.

Only one player this season actually looks like he gives a damn, and that person is Willian. Perhaps a bit of a shock to some, the lively winger has been the driving force of most of Chelsea’s attacks this season despite only being involved in three league goals. However he has been the reason they got out of their Champions League group, putting in outstanding performances every week on his way to scoring five goals.

Back to the Special One. He has definitely made some bad decisions in recent memory, most notably in the summer transfer window. He only added Radamel Falcao, who couldn’t find water if he fell off a cruise ship, Pedro (see above), whilst Kenedy and Baba Rahman were signed for no discernible reason.

There was also the Dr. Eva Carneiro fiasco, which is still ongoing although tumours suggest she may return to the club now that Mourinho has been fired.

However. All this should not lead to the firing of one of the best mangers in the world right now, for the simple reason that there is no one as good to replace him with. The only candidates on Jose’s level are Pep Guardiola, who seems set to leave Bayern Munich in summer, and Carlo Ancelotti, would be returning for a second spell. They’re both reasons why neither would go to Chelsea, at least right now, which leaves them to hunt around the managers without a job.

Brendan Rodgers, Garry Monk and Tim Sherwood are the only managers of note who are available, and are any of those really going to be able to lead Chelsea out of the mire they find themselves in? Not likely.


Foreign Owners – The Abramovich Effect


Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Image courtesy of Mark Freeman

When Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, no one could have predicted the influence it would have over the next 10 years. The Blues spent big in the very next transfer window, spending an unprecedented £121 million, and won the Premier League for the first time in their history the next season before winning it again a year later.

After the success of Abramovich’s investment, many other businessmen started to buy, or bought more, shares of clubs. Some of the more high-profile takeovers included Malcolm Glazer buying Manchester UnitedTom Hicks and George Gillett buying Liverpool (who sold to John W. Henry, founder of Fenway Sports Group, just three years later in another well-publicised move), and Randy Lerner buying Aston Villa.

As it stands, 11 clubs in England’s top flight are majority owned by foreign investors, with another 15 clubs in the Football League also being having foreign owners. 13 of these are in The Championship and five of those have been in the Premier League under their current owners.

Whilst not all of these moves have brought success to the clubs, it definitely increased the already huge profile of the Premier League exponentially. It also contributed to making English sides more competitive in European competition, with a minimum of one Premier League side making it to the Champions League semi-finals eight times in nine years. Three of those sides went on to win the tournament and five were losing finalists. Not all of these sides had foreign owners, but the influx of them in the Premier League meant other teams had to adapt, usually by changing their playing style to make it more effective against bigger clubs.

At the time, Chelsea were accused of “buying the title” and spending excessive amounts. It could be argued that this lead to the introduction of Financial Fair Play (FFP), which UEFA introduced to regulate spending, but to squarely put the blame on Abramovich wouldn’t be fair on him, nor on other foreign owners who bought Premier League clubs soon after.

The criticism doesn’t stop there. In 2008, much-maligned FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed that the “economic power of football is immense” and that the investment in the sport is out of control. Richard Bevan, head of the League Managers’ Association (LMA), said in March 2012 that Chelsea had become an “embarrassment” to the Premier League after Abramovich sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas just 257 days after he took charge of the club.

In a survey by Global Sports Forum published around the same time as Bevan’s comments, it was found that similar sentiments were echoed by fans. 52% of the 3,500 fans polled said that overseas owners do not have the best interests of a club at heart, whilst 63% said they don’t want foreign owners in their domestic league.

Hull City fans would likely agree with these stories after their Egyptian owner Assem Allam said that some fans can “die as soon as they want” after they opposed his idea to rename the club Hull Tigers from Hull City. At recent home matches, fans have been holding banners saying “We are Hull City” and chanting “City till we die” in response to the proposed name change, causing Allam to make those comments. The African has already rebranded the club Hull City Tigers for trading purposes, much to the disdain of the KC Stadium faithful. He also said he would be happy to put the club up for sale if the fans wanted him out, an offer that may be taken up in the near future.

In a somewhat less controversial move, Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov, who owns 30% of the club, recently said that foreign owners are good for English football. The Russian continued by saying that investors pumping money into the British economy can only be a good thing, and that if a team is successful, then there should be no issue with foreign owners.

This may be true for clubs like Arsenal with a long history and richer investors, but with smaller clubs like Birmingham City (majority owned by Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung) and Queens Park Rangers (majority owned by Malaysian Tony Fernandes) who have suffered relegations since being bought.

To view a timeline of when Premier League sides were bought by foreign owners, click on this link.