He was the Special One. The man who could do no wrong at Stamford Bridge last season, taking Chelsea to the title with three matches to go. And now midway through the current season, Jose Mourinho finds himself out of a job – a fall as dramatic as that of Icarus. He had basically the same team and the same players, but something just did not click this time around. And to make matters worse, the man who was a master motivator and media handler seemed to increasingly lose his golden touch in both departments as the season went on. We take a look at seven incidents that might have contributed to his exit less than a year after taking Chelsea to the target.
The light pre season decision
A lot of people were surprised when Chelsea opted for a very light pre-season schedule. Mourinho felt it made sense to give the players a “proper holiday.” And at the time, it seemed a good idea with the players in good humour and even Mourinho playing pranks on his staff. On the pitch, however, the results read – played five, lost three, won nil. And when the team got off to a shaky start in the league, Mourinho conceded that the light pre-season might have left his players a trifle undercooked, but he was confident that they would be all right by about the fourth match of the season. Little did he know…
The Carneiro incident
Can an argument with a doctor undermine an entire team? It did not seem so when Jose Mourinho was seen to be screaming at popular team doctor Eva Carniero after she and her assistant ran on to the pitch to assist Eden Hazard in Chelsea’s opening match against Swansea. Mourinho however went public with his criticism of the duo, calling them “impulsive and naive.” When he took action against the doctor, downgrading her role at the club, she left and there were allegations that Mourinho used abusive language towards her. It was a storm that refuse to die down, and as the FA stepped in, it was a distraction that the Special One and his team did not need.
The Terry substitution
Perhaps the first REAL sign that all was not well at Chelsea came when their main rivals, Manchester City, thumped them 3-0. Almost as shocking as the result itself was the decision of Jose Mourinho to substitute the man that many considered synonymous with the club – their iconic captain John Terry. Mourinho shrugged off the incident as a tactical substitution and to be fair, the Chelsea captain had been having a horrendous match, but many feel that in retrospect, it was a move that undermined one of the club’s most important players, and ironically, even Mourinho himself, given that Terry was one of his strongest supporters.
WATCH VIDEO: Mourinho explains John Terry substitution
The Southampton rant
As things refused to look up for the beleaguered defending champions, Mourinho delivered what was perhaps one of the most famous interviews of the season. Asked what he thought of his team’s performance, he instead went into a long soliloquy where he accused referees of not being strong enough and insisted that he would not run away. “If the club wants to sack me, they will have to sack me. I am not running away from my responsibilities,” he declared. He then added, “If the club sack me, then they sack the best manager this club has!” It was a performance that had people glued to their TV screens but was seen by many as a defiant gesture to the club’s owners, alienating them instead of trying to win them over at a time of crisis. Sack him they did. Eventually.
The sending off
With his team not performing on the pitch and he himself not exactly garnering accolades with his manner off it, you would have thought that Mourinho would rein himself in. Far from it. Barely a few weeks after the tirade on TV following the Southampton match, Mourinho was one of three Chelsea team members (only one of whom was a player) who was sent off in a match against West Ham. Banished to the stands, he watched forlornly as his team were beaten 2-1 by an inspired Hammer side. He refused to attend the press conference afterwards for good measure, further adding fuel to the rumours that he was losing control of not just his side, but himself as well. He did become the subject of one of the pictures of the year though – sitting glumly in the background as the West Ham owners celebrated in front of him.
The Costa bib throw
As Chelsea stumbled from defeat to defeat, it was becoming clear that Mourinho was not the respected, awe-inspiring entity that he had once been in the Chelsea dressing room. But the players’ lack of respect for him became apparent when forward Diego Costa (ironically a player defended several times by Mourinho in spite of less than savoury on-field conduct) threw his warm up bib over his shoulder at Mourinho, when he was put on the substitutes’ bench. Mourinho laughed off the incident as a reflection of the disappointment that a player feels on not starting a match but for many observers, the fact that some other Chelsea players seemed to laugh when the bib was thrown – instead of rising to Mourinho’s defence – seemed to confirm the fact that the Special One was perhaps not so special after all.
The hint of betrayal
Was this the last straw that broke the back of the camel that is the Chelsea ownership? We will never know. But what is certainly clear is that many commentators and pundits were shocked at Mourinho’s claims that his work was being betrayed by some of his players after his team’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester City. He went on to claim that he had perhaps brought some of the players to perform well above their level in the previous season, implying that perhaps that is why they were struggling in this one. Although some of his supporters tried to put a different spin on his words, the powers that be clearly decided that these were the words of a man who had lost his own dressing room.