The bookmakers’ odds speak volumes. Chelsea’s price for relegation (100/1) is nearly the same as that of their chances of winning the league (80/1). They are as short as 3/10 not to finish in the top four and thus miss out on a Champions League spot for the first time since 2003. Needless to say, the pressure on Jose Mourinho is mounting.
And it’s showing. The Special One has just been fined another £40,000 – adding to the £50k he was penalised in October – and banned for one match following a charge of misconduct following the Blues’ defeat to West Ham.
This follows the fallout from the resignation of popular physio Eva Carneiro – directly caused by Mourinho, with Carneiro now seeking legal advice for constructive dismissal.
To compound the misery, the BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Garry Richardson has claimed that one Chelsea player has stated that ‘I’d rather lose than win for him [Mourinho].’ Cesc Fabregas has had to come out publicly and deny claims that he is leading a dressing room revolt against the Portuguese manager.
Points Make Prizes
The Blues are now ten points behind fourth placed Manchester United, and 14 points behind leaders Man City. Perhaps more pertinently, they are just four points above the relegation zone – and have conceded more goals than bottom of the table Aston Villa.
Wednesday night’s clash with Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League could well be Mourinho’s final hurrah, then. Defeat at Stamford Bridge would all but end Chelsea’s hopes of qualifying for the last 16 of Europe’s premier competition; and presumably that would end the 52-year-old’s time in the dugout.
Clubs earn £12 million for qualifying for the Champions League, £5.5 million for making the last 16, £6 million for a quarter final berth and so on. And using the 2014/15 figures, Chelsea earned just under £100 million for winning the league last year. If they finish, say, tenth this year, they will be rewarded with around £77 million. So that’s a £23 million deficit, plus the likely loss of the Champions League revenue. You can see why Mourinho casts such a gloomy figure at the moment.
Defeat against Kiev could well be the final act in the Special One’s Stamford Bridge performance.
Often a change is as good as a rest, and Roman Abramovich and his advisors might decide that now is the right time for Mourinho to exit stage left, draw a line under the 2015/16 campaign and start afresh next season.
A new figure would come in, unite the dressing room and provide a clean slate for a hugely talented squad that could still, mathematically, finish in the upper reaches of the Premier League. Whether the new man could persuade Chelsea’s biggest stars – your Hazard’s, your Fabregas’, your Costa’s – to stay at the club even without the carrot of European football next season is another matter altogether.
That hasn’t put off Fabio Capello, however, who has already publicly thrown his hat into the ring. How Abramovich would see a man who has just been sacked from the head coach’s position of his beloved Russia for some turgid results remains to be seen. Capello is the early 4/1 favourite to replace Mourinho.
More likely is Carlo Ancelotti (5/1), who is unemployed after leaving Real Madrid in the summer. The Italian led the Blues to a treble in the 2009/10 campaign – the Community Shield, the FA Cup and the Premier League – and despite being sacked a year or so later (ironically Chelsea were second in the league at the time) Abramovich has a history of re-employing managers he has previously sacked: just ask Jose Mourinho.