If you were wondering when everyone's favorite Daily Mail correspondent Neil Ashton would wade into the brewing ... well, I'm not entirely sure what to call it, but since it's Thursday, let's go with Scandal ... that is Mourinho vs. John Terry and the rest of the Chelsea squad, wonder no more. Here he comes, already in full flow. No need for a warm up, or a warm down, even.
There have been times this season when Jose Mourinho has really let fly at his under-performing Chelsea players, taking them to task during savage dressing-room inquests.
What has surprised this squad of elite-level players is the manner of the delivery, selecting certain individuals and criticising them in front of their colleagues.
Captain John Terry, who has spent the last two games on the bench, Branislav Ivanovic, Oscar, Cesar Azpilicueta and Nemanja Matic are among the players who have been bawled out by Chelsea's manager since the start of the season.
Others have escaped Mourinho's wrath, notably Cesc Fabregas. Diego Costa [...] is being treated sympathetically.
Give Ashton a click for the specific sordid details if you want.
The trick with Ashton has always been trying to figure out who his mole or his source inside the dressing room may be. (Assuming that it's an actual, real source.) He definitely had one a few years ago, when he was breaking stories like the Champions League final starting lineup or Frank Lampard's contract extension. Once most of the Old Guard had left, Ashton's well of prophecies ran dry as well. This report has all the makings of a player (or perhaps the manager himself?) blabbing to someone for some reason, or perhaps a player's agent leaking the story to agitate for one thing or another. One would hope that no player (or, really, no one person or even fly on the wall in the organization) is that naive or silly, but there are a lot of egos and a lot of money at stake. No one said athletes are the smartest people in the room either.
If we are to take Ashton at his word, we can perhaps take comfort in knowing that the manager has chewed out both of our entrenched full backs, but apparently has not been able to put his trust in Baba Rahman at all. Though exactly when all this occurred is not clear, so perhaps by now he's more willing to give the young left back a try. Even more puzzling is a complete dedication to Cesc Fàbregas, who's had a torrid time of it out there as well. Except Mourinho appears to be operating under the UK definition of the word 'torrid' in this instance and not the US one, like most of us. It's also unclear why Oscar would have issues with the manager, though the "evidence" brought up in this case was the first match of the season and since then, Oscar's been one of the better performers in the squad. Except he was left at home for the Porto trip, so perhaps no one has any idea what's actually going on.
The only thing that's clear here to me, is that the Chelsea dressing room is not a happy place right now. And, well, it really shouldn't be. In case nobody's noticed, we're not exactly winning with regularity. Unacceptable. They should be upset. They should be provoked. They should do better. At the end of the day, results, points, and wins are what matters.
There is no escape from Mourinho at the moment, with the manager demanding a return to the relentless, winning football that landed the club their fourth Premier League title, along with another League Cup last season.
The dressing room has become volatile, with Chelsea's manager attempting to provoke his players after their lacklustre, pedestrian start to the season.
On Wednesday, after the players returned from Porto, he called them into a meeting to re-assert his authority. The gist of his address to the squad was to tell them that he was convinced he still has their support, still in control as they attempt to arrest this alarming slump.
Saturday is a must win. However they need to go about doing it, whatever they need to motivate themselves (love, hate, support, anger, hugs, fights, boots thrown, etc), the players and the manager need to figure out a way to make that happen.