In a rather extraordinary hit piece, Jose Mourinho mouthpiece Duncan Castles outlines the errors Chelsea made in taking Mourinho's champions to relegation battlers in six months. Yes, you read that right, Chelsea. The errors Chelsea made in the club's greatest manager and Premier League-winning squad suddenly becoming useless.
Devoid of any hint of personal responsibility, the five reasons range from the obvious (transfer market failures) to the bizarre (Carneiro and Granovskaia undermining his authority) to the laughable (dressing room moles and player power shenanigans).
NOT what can Mourinho learn from Chelsea exit. But what can MU learn from Mourinho's exit... https://t.co/KHJ8fXV3sR— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) October 22, 2016
Let's take a look, shall we?
TRANSFER MARKET FAILURES
This one's obvious. Papy Djilobodji and Michael Hector are nobody's idea of proper reinforcements, and while Mourinho spouted the company line throughout the summer, he also warned that fresh blood was necessary. Other than Pedro, who's failed to live up to his Barcelona billing, the 2015 summer transfer window was an abject failure.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the club backed him fully the previous summer as we essentially traded future talent (Lukaku, De Bruyne, etc) for win-now pieces (Fàbregas, Costa). This boom-bust method of team-building should be familiar to fans of any professional sports league in the USA. Without the possibility of relegation and the annual draft of new players in the offseason, it works well in baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and American football. It's slightly less advisable in football when a subpar offseason could result in palpable sense of relegation danger.
THE YOUTH OF TODAY
We all remember "Academy Day", no (i.e. 10 minutes for Loftus-Cheek off the bench)? Basically, stop pestering Mourinho with all this youth nonsense. Apparently all the hype he himself built up around the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lewis Baker, and Dom Solanke and about building a dynasty at the club was literally nothing more than lip service, probably to appease the unreasonable owner for wanting his manager to take advantage of the growing talents in the Chelsea Academy.
"My conscience is, for example, to say to you that I think Baker, Brown, Solanke, if in a few years they are not national team players, I should blame myself."
And by "myself" I mean not myself.
Given the successes of the likes of Courtois, Lukaku, De Bruyne (not strictly Academy products, but brought to the club at a young age), the clear and obvious talents of the likes of Chalobah and Baker, and Mourinho's staunch refusal to change things up when things started going wrong, this is a rather silly deflection of blame.
Highly critical of Chelsea's post-season tour in 2015, Mourinho's blaming the club for the players returning from the offseason out of shape and without motivation.
While Mourinho does have a point — welcome to modern football, I suppose — blaming the post-season tour for the extra week off granted to the players is rather oversimplifying the situation. As Mourinho himself said it, planning for the offseason starts so far in advance; there should be no excuses for it affecting anything in unexpected ways.
The club's pursuit of a few million pounds of extra commercial cost them tens of millions in paying off Mourinho and his technical team, tens of millions of Champions League revenue, and provoked a poorly planned, poorly executed spend of over £100million on new players, the majority of whom were not the preferred choices of new manager, Antonio Conte.
THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES
Christophe Lollichon, dressing room mole. Eva Carneiro (thanks to Granovskaia's support), undermining Mourinho's authority. Same old Mourinho paranoia.
Of course, just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you. The club clearly value Lollichon, having moved him to an advisory role even after agreeing to bring in a new goalkeeper coach as requested by both Conte and Courtois. It's not hard to imagine Lollichon giving Abramovich a bit of dressing room insight. On the other hand, what would Mourinho have to hide from Abramovich? It's one thing to not want dressing room leaks to the media, but creating an artificial barrier between the coaches and the Board seems hardly a good way to ensure productive personal and business relationships in the upper echelons of the club.
And of course the Carneiro thing is just utter nonsense, and a nasty situation purely of Mourinho's own making.
Another refrain we're heard many times before. And after Jose's sacking, the club (via sacrificial lamb Michael Emenalo) made it clear that they were fully behind the players (as opposed to the now departed "The Individual"), lending credence to the idea that Abramovich took a survey of players, they all pointed the finger and so the owner pulled the cord for the trapdoor. None of the players other than maybe Mikel have admitted anything like this since, though one would not expect them to admit otherwise (until maybe the post-retirement autobiographies start coming out).
On the other hand, there was literally nothing else that could have been done. You can't fire all the players. When a team struggles, the manager gets the chop. This is football. This is professional sports. This is literally how it's done everywhere, anywhere, with a few notable examples (Ferguson, Wenger) proving the exceptions to that rule. Mourinho knows this (he just said it in his Sky interview, in fact) and blaming Chelsea for this as something unique and unreasonable is, well, quite unreasonable and laughable in and of itself.
The reality is that Mourinho failed. There were other failures of course, too, but the manager failed as well. The much heralded serial winner, Chelsea's greatest manager of all time, found himself in a brand new situation, his shield of invincibility shattered and lying at his feet in pieces, and none of his solutions were working. It happens to the best of them; it can happen to Mourinho as well.
Unless you're Mourinho himself, in which case none of this is your fault.
Good luck with all that, Manchester United.