Thursday, January 04, 2007


A Slippery Slope for Chelski?

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been told by his superiors to sort out the team's performances, or suffer the consequences. If Roman Abramovich's business dealings are anything to go by, these 'consequences' could be cutthroat in nature. Could the unthinkable actually happen? Could Chelsea football club be about to dispense with the services of arguably the best club manager in the world?

It's clear that the Chelsea Board do not have an abundance of patience, just as it's clear that when you buy success, you demand it on an ongoing basis, and the team's recent results - to say nothing of their actual performances on the pitch - haven't reached the heady heights that such a substantial investment was presumably intended to guarantee.

Chelsea dropped four points at home during the festive period, and then followed that up with a fairly lacklustre draw at Villa Park on Tuesday night. Believe it or not, Chelsea's current home form is the worst ever in Mourinho's tenure, and the Board doesn't appear to be too sympathetic to Jose's protestations of tiredness and injury woes.

The 'spine' of the team (Petr Cech and John Terry) has been unavailable of late, coinciding (I use the terms mischievously) with Chelsea shipping an uncharacteristic number of goals - two each in games against Everton, Wigan, Reading and Fulham - something that would have been unheard of in either of the past two seasons. Significantly perhaps, Mourinho insisted on a keeping a small squad coming into this season, and it's clear that while he may have cover in every position, he cannot bring in like for like. Khalid Boulahrouz for example, is no John Terry and Hilario doesn't have the commanding presence of Petr Cech, or even Carlo Cudicini for that matter.

Having insisted that Chelsea would be curbing their spending in the transfer market - the club has made massive losses in every year of the Abramovich era - there now seems to be an about turn, with the club keen to sign a central defender, at least for the remainder of the season. Sol Campbell has been linked to the club, although he would surely be nothing more than a stop-gap. Manchester City's Micah Richards seems to be much admired, but in an ironic plot thickening, Mourinho has come out and blasted the inflated prices of players in the Premiership, claiming that he would rather include his 55-year-old assistant Baltemar Brito in the team than pay over the odds for a recognised player. The fact that it is Chelsea's spending power, backed by Abramovich's millions, that has inflated the prices in the first place, seems to have escaped him.

The questions remain. Should Chelsea try to buy themselves out of trouble? Are they not in any trouble at all bearing in mind the gap at the top is a mere six points and Manchester United still have to travel to Stamford Bridge? Are we making a mountain out of a molehill by talking about a club in crisis, or is Mourinho's job seriously under threat? What do you think? Give Your Suggestion.

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