Leadership plays a significant part in any sport and even with our world crumbling, José Mourinho remains as Chelsea's ultimate leader. It's one of the reasons why we could wonder whether his presence in the Stoke City game could have made any difference in the outcome, as his three assistant managers didn't seem to influence the match as much as the Portuguese manager. But Mourinho still did his best to make his presence felt by the players, according to Kurt Zouma.
"The pre-match chat happened at the hotel and when we arrived at the ground, [Mourinho] was no longer with us. It is the other coach (Steve Holland) who took charge and at half-time they spoke by messaging - they swapped text messages or they called each other I think."
"The assistant told us what he had said and then he joined us after and told us we had played a good match. He was disappointed, like everyone because we lost. I think we could have won that match. We deserved to win it, I think, but we lost. So we were all disappointed."
These are the perks of technology -- certainly an improvement over hiding in laundry baskets, no matter how clean the clothes might be. (And despite suggestions, there were no specific rules against José being able to communicate with his bench and his assistants; the FA supposedly deems such rules unenforceable, especially with all the technology available nowadays, and thus frivolous.)
Zouma also used the opportunity of his interview to reinforce the squad's support on Mourinho, reassuring that the players are behind him just like Chelsea supporters from Stamford Bridge and beyond:
"We have to keep him, we have to."
"I don't think the dressing room has abandoned him. On the level of performances, it is not like last year for sure. But mentally we are still all together, we are a group. The coach has always been behind us and we are behind him just like the supporters are. I think that is still the same situation."
"It is bizarre because last season we finished as champions and three months later we have started badly. Maybe we were relaxed mentally too much."
"In the last few matches we have played better and then we were unlucky but the confidence is still there."
-Kurt Zouma; Source: TF1 via Mirror
These "bizarre" months can't be considered a blip anymore, though it's fair to say that our performances have improved over the the last few matches. Nevertheless, Chelsea's 2015-16 season could very well become a case study of what not to do ever again. (As soon as we figure out what that "what" is.)