When the axe finally fell on Jose Mourinho last Thursday, with champions Chelsea in 16th place having accumulated fewer points than matches played, the fans were in no doubt as to where the blame lie.
Two days later the Blues took to the pitch for the first time post-Jose, greeted by the mass booing of individuals and some of the worst banners seen at a football match since the well-intentioned yet hopelessly flawed "RIP FRANCE" one was hoisted at Wembley five days after the Paris attacks.
The most prominent read:
"THE 3 RATS
HAZARD (it actually said 'Iazzard') CESC (looked more like 'Cesl' to me)
A day earlier, and less than 24 hours after Mourinho had been dismissed, some chap called Paul Baker performed live on Sky Sports a song he'd written as a tribute to the Portuguese, manipulating three of the most uncomfortable-looking women (presumably his wife and daughters) into providing the backing vocals.
It went as follows:
"The best in the world we all know. We didn't ever want you to go...
Jose Mourinho! The man who stole the show!
You're the Special One! And you're dynamo! Woah woahhhhh.
While each of these appear to have been coined by the type of people you'd hope to avoid on public transport, their views are strangely representative of Chelsea's fanbase. And, frankly, that tells you all you need to know about how ludicrous they are.
How can it be possible that, having overseen the worst opening third of a Premier League season of any defending champion, Mourinho, the man so blatantly at fault for much of the those failings, can be so absolved of any blame whatsoever?
Granted, Chelsea's players turning up to beat Sunderland so routinely in the first game after Mourinho's departure is fairly damning of them. Especially when the performances of should-be match-winners Oscar and Pedro, in particular, were chalk and cheese compared to the previous four months.
At the same time, though, squad disillusionment is not entirely unreasonable when you consider Mourinho's behaviour throughout the campaign. Having effectively forced Eva Carneiro out of Stamford Bridge in September, he experienced what so many of us have on Football Manager when you transfer list a player who may have only one working leg, but nevertheless remains a popular member of the team.
It's entirely conceivable that after Mourinho castigated his first team doctor for a mistake that ultimately proved trivial, the 52-year-old's squad suddenly developed metaphorical green boxes displaying the abbreviation 'Unh' next to their names. Unfortunately for Mourinho, he was unable to quit without saving and pick up where he left off at a more harmonious stage.
In the meantime, Mourinho became continuously embroiled in battles with referees, notably Jon Moss after he was sent to the stands at West Ham, and in turn the Football Association. He then turned on Eden Hazard - last season's PFA Player of the Year and one of the aforementioned rats - publicly blaming him, an attacking midfielder/winger-y thing, for the number of goals Chelsea were conceding.
None of these are signs of a man in control. As much as it's the players' job to perform on the pitch - God knows they're paid enough - can you really blame them for finding hard to be motivated in those circumstances? Not liking or not trusting your employer is a situation that most will have experienced at some stage and it's only natural for it to hinder our productivity. But unfortunately for Chelsea footballers, they can't just pack up their bags and go elsewhere.
It has long been evident that Mourinho was not going to turn things around, despite the odd result that hinted otherwise. Even if the Blues did win, they were usually fortunate to do so. There was certainly no swagger about the team and players regularly seemed surprised not to have been beaten.
Against Sunderland things were different, and while there's every chance that Sunderland are actually that bad and I've just wasted 700 words and my Tuesday morning, I strongly suspect this isn't the case.
The players may have failed to perform for their previous boss but you have to question why that is. They may be rats in your eyes (which is fine as long as everything's spelled correctly) but it was Mourinho who glued on the whiskers and attached their tails.
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