Losing one surprise match can be treated as an accident, losing two a sign of something more sinister. So losing five of your first ten matches of the season can be catastrophic for any football team, and that is particularly the case at Chelsea, who have gone from defending champions to relegation fodder in a matter of weeks.
Nobody realistically believes they will be demoted from English football’s top flight, but the prospect of a trophy-less season has got even the most loyal of Chelsea fans biting their nails. Another who has every right to be nervous is Jose Mourinho.
The manager will really have the blues at the moment, and his current mental state – he was sent off during his team’s 1-2 defeat to West Ham on Saturday, and then subsequently refused to speak to the media afterwards – could be described as fragile at best.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and he will undoubtedly be casting a glance at Pep Guardiola, who has intimated that he will not sign a new contract at Bayern Munich when his current deal runs out at the end of the season.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a caretaker manager, someone like Carlo Ancelotti or Guus Hiddinck – who lifted the FA Cup in a previous stint as Chelsea boss, could be pressed into action if Mourinho is given the boot, with Guardiola then steeping into the fold in the summer.
Chelsea face Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, and it is thought that a defeat could seal the end of Mourinho’s tenure at the club. He would be paid a huge compensation package to leave, but that is no problem for Abramovich who sacked Mourinho in 2007 for a cool £18 million.
It has been a season of absolute turmoil at the Bridge, with disciplinary problems added to by below-par performances from key men such as Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and John Terry. Mourinho’s key signings of last season have flopped so far during this campaign, and his inability to sign a new central defender in the summer is coming back to haunt him.
Guardiola, meanwhile, is one of the most highly-rated young managers in football, having led first Barcelona and now Bayern to plenty of glory in his spells at the clubs. But he has reiterated his desire to leave Germany next year – with a move to London a viable option. For a billionaire like Abramovich for whom money is no object, capturing a huge ‘asset’ in the mould of Guardiola would be a no brainer.
By: Craig Simpkin