Champs in trouble

What on Earth has happened to Chelsea? The 2015 Premier League champions have not looked like they will be defending their title much less even qualifying for European football. For a team that was so heavily favored to repeat as league champions, the results that Chelsea has amassed are mind boggling. Forget challenging for a title. Chelsea is only four points clear of relegation.

Jose Mourinho (2)
Mourinho has struggled to repeat last year’s stellar performance at Stamford Bridge.

The issue begins at the top with manager Jose Mourinho. He is very abrasive by nature and tends to make a lot of enemies. Right now Chelsea has a target this size of London on its back and it continues to grow with each week that Mourinho spends criticizing opposing managers, referees and players alike.

Mourinho might not like it, but the best thing to do is to take a step back and lessen the pressure on his team. Chelsea needs to get back on track in the worst way, but as long Mourinho continues to antagonize the rest of the league, they will all continue to gun for them.

That kind of conduct is starting to cost the team as well. Mourinho was suspended today for his most recent outburst against West Ham. Playing a game without your manager makes it increasingly difficult to win.

Chelsea need to find a way to win as well. They have failed to emerge victorious in their last four matches, which included three loses. The Blues were bounced from the League Cup, failed to secure points in two league matches and could not beat a Ukrainian side in European play.

That kind of slide is nothing short of historic for Chelsea. Since the Premier League was created back in 1992, Chelsea has never has as poor a start as the one they are enduring now.

Eden Hazard
Hazard has appeared in 16 matches so far for Chelsea this year and failed to score a goal.

Part of that directly ties back to Mourinho. He has been very successful at alienating his best player in Eden Hazard. Hazard might have gotten a little complacent after receiving the Player of the Year award last year in the Premier League, but the talent is still there.

Now, there are rumors circulating that Hazard is as good as gone in the January transfer window because he just cannot stand it stay. Hazard has gone as far as to say that he will push through a move to Real Madrid in January. It is clear that the Belgian international wants nothing to do with his abrasive boss.

Hazard is far from the only one unsettled by Mourinho’s tactics. The Daily Mail reported that one player in the Chelsea locker room said he would rather lose than win for Mourinho. If that is the response that you are getting from players, then a change must be made.

That change should not be assumed to sack Mourinho. With matches against Stoke, Norwich and Bournemouth on the coming slate for three out of Chelsea next four, the team could get back on track. However, if Chelsea fails to push back into the conversation for at least a top four finish by then, Mourinho must go.

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho is running out of opportunities to turn Chelsea around.

Giving him this little window to make up for his mistakes is crucial for the team going forward. It seems that most players have lost faith in their manager but getting back on track could revive this team heading into the January transfer window. Some of those whom Chelsea decides cannot work with Mourinho can be moved and Mourinho will have the opportunity to bring in some players of his choosing for the first time at Stamford Bridge.

This season is not lost for Chelsea. Making a title challenge is overly ambitious, being 14 points down right now but pushing back into at least a Europa League position is more than manageable. Chelsea fans won’t be satisfied with settling for fourth or fifth but that might be the best the Blues can do after such a disastrous beginning.

Mourinho needs to learn now from what this first quarter of the season has taught him. He cannot do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to. He must play by the rules and realize that there is more to being a manager than just the tactics. Motivating a team to give its best effort is part of the process and it seems like Mourinho is not used to having to do that. That does not mean he should be excused from making it happen.

Chelsea is most certainly in trouble. Mourinho has the ability to save his job and their season or forfeit both in the next month.

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