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Why Chelsea's Poisonous Attitude Has Been the Reason for Their Own Downfall

11/11/2015 17:26 GMT | Updated 11/11/2016 10:12 GMT

It's quite incredible how much can change in the space of a year.

Twelves games into last season, Chelsea found themselves top of the Premier League; six points clear of second-placed Southampton. Diego Costa couldn't stop scoring. They'd already earned a status as would-be champions and their team was built on a solid foundation, led by reborn captain John Terry.

Jose Mourinho's 'little horse' - as he'd described it towards the end of last season - was ready to win the big one. Ready to be a champion. Manchester City and Arsenal could only watch on as the Blues stayed unbeaten until early December, strangling the life out of the Premier League title race.

From first to last, Chelsea led the pack. Quite literally, actually - they were top for every week of last season - and the Blues were deservedly crowned champions come the start of May.

The 'Special One' was king again. And his method of instilling the 'siege mentality' in his players in order to complete the job proved the correct - if not the most popular - decision. But as Manchester City have found out time and again, it's a terribly difficult prospect to defend a league title - especially in England.

While the chasing pack are always keen to close the gap and attempt a coup, a champion's biggest challenge comes from within. And in the early weeks of Chelsea's horrific first third of the new campaign, it was obvious that this was not a challenge they were ready for.

Chelsea's title defence has reeked of immaturity and arrogance. Their inactivity in the transfer window was an indication of their attitude toward the new season; there was a feeling among the club's staff that they'd won the title at such a canter in the year before that their team needed little improvement.

Heck, Costa has even admitted it. In a recent ​television interview he professed: "We came back too relaxed and thinking we were going to win it again, like last season."

Mourinho didn't help his team's preparations by bringing them back late for pre-season, either. The intention was to have his side grow into the campaign so they'd be fighting fit by the run-in and while it didn't seem as disastrous a call at the time as it's turned out to be, it's the attitude that led to the decision in the first place that has proven their downfall.

A poison has afflicted Chelsea. That initial relaxation had dissipated by the first match of the campaign, when they could only draw at home to Swansea and Eva-Carneiro-gate reared it's head. Mourinho conveyed anything but a relaxed figure on the touchline that day, and the lord only knows what's going on in his head three months down the line.

Last season's 'siege mentality' still remains, except it now exists in a much uglier form. And it's far less obvious that the players are a part of it - instead it's manifested in Mourinho's sheer blindness and refusal to admit that his team have been outplayed in more than half of their matches this season.

Costa now spends more of his time interested in fighting the opposition than doing his job in front of goal. Eden Hazard has disappeared, and a number of Chelsea's would-be world-class players have wilted under the expectation.

But it's always somebody else's fault. And until Mourinho holds his hands up and confesses that his team are not always the victim, it's a problem that will continue. Given he's had plenty of chances to do so already - not least after the home defeat to Liverpool last month - you can be almost sure that's not going to happen.

Mourinho's earned his right to go back to the drawing board with his side, to rebuild and remould. But his refusal to accept responsibility is proving that he's perhaps not the man to lead Chelsea in the long-term, and unless his attitude changes, he could find himself out of Stamford Bridge by the end of the campaign.

As could a number of his players. It seems Terry's Stamford Bridge playing days are numbered, while Branislav Ivanovic is in drastic decline, Costa is more of a hindrance than a help, and Hazard is too busy fluttering his eyes towards Spain.

One year on from their wonderful patch of Premier League form, Chelsea find themselves languishing down in 16th. Seven defeats is more than Mourinho has ever suffered in a league season - and this is after twelve games, remember - and they're going to have to reach title-winning form to even have a chance of earning themselves a place in the top four as it stands.

Simply put, Chelsea quite literally may as well begin their rebuilding plans now. And if Mourinho wants to come back and prove himself as the best manager in the world, he needs to take a look at himself in the mirror first.

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