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Jose Mourinho staring into the abyss after Liverpool defeat Chelsea

Chelsea 1-3 Liverpool

By Glenn Moore

For a manager under pressure, few defeats are more damaging than against a club under new management. As veterans of the profession observed, it immediately makes the owner think, “so that’s what changing the manager can do”.

Roman Abramovich was not at Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea lose 3-1 to a Liverpool side freshly inspired by Jürgen Klopp. However, several of the owner’s many advisers will have been and one wonders what message was sent back.

Abramovich does not want to fire Mourinho. After dispensing with him in 2007, Chelsea worked their way through seven managers in six years, including a World Cup winner, three Champions League winners, a young tyro and a much-loved former player. Despite winning seven trophies between them none filled the vacuum and Abramovich returned to Mourinho.

The Portuguese soon won his third Premier League title and fourth Cup competition with Chelsea, bringing his personal tally to a staggering eight titles, three European trophies, and seven domestic cups in four countries. All in 13 seasons.

There is no doubt Mourinho is the most successful manager of his generation and the best in Chelsea’s history. Chelsea, as Mourinho immodestly but accurately pointed out recently, are not going to find a better manager. Which goes a long way to explaining why the club really do not want to sack him.

However, it appears difficult to envisage any other outcome than a parting of the ways, and within weeks rather than months, because the one thing Mourinho’s garlanded career has not equipped him to deal with is failure.

The current run of one win in eight matches is by some distance the worst of his career and to watch him on the touchline on Saturday, largely motionless, was to get the impression he had no idea how to end it.

The same applies to his players. These are serial winners and losing has left their confidence in shreds under a manager without the psychological tools to rebuild it. There were periods against Liverpool when Chelsea played well, but by the end they were a shambles, unable even to deal with a simple long ball, the tactic that brought Liverpool’s second and third goals. They were equally ragged at the end of a similar home defeat to Southampton last month and several players look mentally exhausted, drained by Mourinho’s high-intensity management and his refusal to rotate last season.

Things can change very quickly in football. A controversial penalty against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, and a fortuitous own goal by a Stoke defender on Saturday, may be all Chelsea need to gain the back-to-back wins that would provide a desperately needed injection of self-belief. Mourinho could then go into the international break with the pressure eased, allowing him to gain some personal equilibrium. Two more reverses, however, and Chelsea may well be looking for yet another manager. One who is no longer available is Klopp, who suddenly finds himself already having to manage expectations. He correctly dismissed as “crazy” a suggestion Liverpool were ready to contest the title, but was no keener to consider the more realistic prospect of a top-four finish.

“Oh,” he said, his head dropping in exasperated bemusement. “I can’t believe that England is so impatient.”

Turning to referee Mark Clattenburg, who was walking past, he said, “They are asking me about the top four.”

“Welcome to England,” replied Clattenburg.

Klopp expounded: “We have to improve everything and then we can talk about where we will be in the table but, at this moment, in November, we cannot talk.”

Looking further ahead he added: “I have been here three weeks. Everyone tells me ‘you want to buy this player, this player, this player’. But development is to work with the players you have. It’s like if you have a problem with your wife, you don’t want to change every day, you just work and work and get better.”

Coincidentally, the Liverpool team of 1984-85 were the last defending champions to start a campaign as badly as Chelsea have. They had nine points from 11 games and even dropped into the relegation zone, like Chelsea 14 points off the summit.

Liverpool had a game in hand, which they promptly won, by 2-0 at Nottingham Forest. This began a haul of 13 points from 15 and at the season’s end they were second. But 31 years ago football was played in a much less fevered atmosphere.

For a manager under pressure, few defeats are more damaging than against a club under new management. As veterans of the profession observed, it immediately makes the owner think, “so that’s what changing the manager can do”.

Roman Abramovich was not at Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea lose to a Liverpool side freshly inspired by Jürgen Klopp. However, several of the owner’s many advisers will have been and one wonders what message was sent back.

Abramovich does not want to fire Mourinho. After dispensing with him in 2007, Chelsea worked their way through seven managers in six years, including a World Cup winner, three Champions League winners, a young tyro and a much-loved former player. Despite winning seven trophies between them none filled the vacuum and Abramovich returned to Mourinho.

The Portuguese soon won his third Premier League title and fourth Cup competition with Chelsea, bringing his personal tally to a staggering eight titles, three European trophies, and seven domestic cups in four countries. All in 13 seasons.

There is no doubt Mourinho is the most successful manager of his generation and the best in Chelsea’s history. Chelsea, as Mourinho immodestly but accurately pointed out recently, are not going to find a better manager. Which goes a long way to explaining why the club really do not want to sack him.

However, it appears difficult to envisage any other outcome than a parting of the ways, and within weeks rather than months, because the one thing Mourinho’s garlanded career has not equipped him to deal with is failure.

The current run of one win in eight matches is by some distance the worst of his career and to watch him on the touchline on Saturday, largely motionless, was to get the impression he had no idea how to end it.

The same applies to his players. These are serial winners and losing has left their confidence in shreds under a manager without the psychological tools to rebuild it. There were periods against Liverpool when Chelsea played well, but by the end they were a shambles, unable even to deal with a simple long ball, the tactic that brought Liverpool’s second and third goals. They were equally ragged at the end of a similar home defeat to Southampton last month and several players look mentally exhausted, drained by Mourinho’s high-intensity management and his refusal to rotate last season.

Things can change very quickly in football. A controversial penalty against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, and a fortuitous own goal by a Stoke defender on Saturday, may be all Chelsea need to gain the back-to-back wins that would provide a desperately needed injection of self-belief. Mourinho could then go into the international break with the pressure eased, allowing him to gain some personal equilibrium. Two more reverses, however, and Chelsea may well be looking for yet another manager. One who is no longer available is Klopp, who suddenly finds himself already having to manage expectations. He correctly dismissed as “crazy” a suggestion Liverpool were ready to contest the title, but was no keener to consider the more realistic prospect of a top-four finish.

“Oh,” he said, his head dropping in exasperated bemusement. “I can’t believe that England is so impatient.”

Turning to referee Mark Clattenburg, who was walking past, he said, “They are asking me about the top four.”

“Welcome to England,” replied Clattenburg.

Klopp expounded: “We have to improve everything and then we can talk about where we will be in the table but, at this moment, in November, we cannot talk.”

Looking further ahead he added: “I have been here three weeks. Everyone tells me ‘you want to buy this player, this player, this player’. But development is to work with the players you have. It’s like if you have a problem with your wife, you don’t want to change every day, you just work and work and get better.”

Coincidentally, the Liverpool team of 1984-85 were the last defending champions to start a campaign as badly as Chelsea have. They had nine points from 11 games and even dropped into the relegation zone, like Chelsea 14 points off the summit.

Liverpool had a game in hand, which they promptly won, by 2-0 at Nottingham Forest. This began a haul of 13 points from 15 and at the season’s end they were second. But 31 years ago football was played in a much less fevered atmosphere.

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