Amid Jose Mourinho's extraordinary fulmination on Saturday evening following the defeat to Southampton, the Chelsea manager said something inarguably true. At the height of his vexation, he said that if the club chose to dispense of his services, they would be getting rid of the greatest manager Chelsea has ever had. That is right. He also stated, in refreshingly explicit terms, that when results go awry, it is always the manager who ultimately pays the price. That is also right.
While it may be easy to lambaste Mourinho for once again accusing the referee of being afraid to give Chelsea penalties before refusing to comment on his own side's recklessness, the coach was taking responsibility for a period which has dramatically spiralled into the darkest of his illustrious career. However, that's where Mourinho differs from his players.
The champions are yet to exhibit any of the gravitas or fighting spirit that allowed them to canter to a fourth Premier League title in May and the players must shoulder a large portion of the blame for a string of meek performances that have left the defence of their title in tatters less than two months into the season.
Watching Chelsea on Saturday evening was almost hard to believe. Look back at the various squads during Roman Abramovich's time as owner and how often can you see Southampton overturning Chelsea's lead to walk away with three points? It certainly wouldn't have happened in 2005 and it is difficult to imagine such a capitulation occurring under the raised eyebrow of Carlo Ancelotti.
And where has the spirit of 2012 gone, when Chelsea managed to defy all odds - Barcelona and Bayern Munich included - to become champions of Europe? It's astounding to think it's only three years later.
A defence of Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta were run ragged by the hard-pressing trident of Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and, in particular, Sadio Mane. Cahill and Terry are a defensive partnership with over 1000 career games between them, yet they looked utterly lost and bereft of ideas as the Saints tide rose unstoppably in the second half.
Both Terry and Cahill, seasoned England internationals, were at fault for Mane's goal that made it 2-1. Cahill's heavy touch allowed Tadic to nick possession, feeding Pelle and when the Italian striker prodded the ball forward. It looked like a bread and butter interception for Terry, only to be rolled by Mane and left on a heap as the forward slid the ball under Asmir Begovic.
And let's talk about Ivanovic. The Serbian full-back has looked like a shadow of his formerly beastly self, illustrated in a kamikaze moment of defending during the Southampton game when his horribly miscued attempt at a clearance left Nemanja Matic struggling. The Serbian then rushed out to dispossess Tadic, only to be effortlessly turned. Simply, that would not have happened to the Ivanovic of last year, who was consistently the most efficient and effective right-back in the country.
It's not like Mourinho has forgotten how to manage a football team. The fact that Matic was withdrawn less than half an hour after coming on clearly illustrates that the players are failing to carry out the coach's instructions. In the first-half, Southampton's midfielders were able to find the advanced players with alarming regularity so introducing Matic seemed like a natural solution to add a protective barrier to the defence. However, the Sebian wilted and when he was subbed off, it portrayed a sense that Mourinho's patience is wearing dangerously thin with his under-performing team.
Following the ignominy of the latest defeat, Chelsea made the unusual step of publicly backing their under-fire manager, breaking the traditional wall of silence erected between Abramovich and the fans.
It was actually quite pleasing to see an owner known for his unapologetically ruthless style in sacking managers clarify his position and support a man clearly growing weary of the extreme pressure he endures on a daily basis. After receiving that vote of confidence, Mourinho knows that he must turn this around before he finds himself departing a club he loves so dearly for a second time.
Terry came out in support of Mourinho, saying: "We have a big group of players in that dressing room and we need to stand up, which we will do."
Mourinho finds himself in perhaps his most testing time as a manager, but, more than ever, he needs his players to show exactly why they are champions and stop hiding from the cataclysmic disaster that is their current campaign.
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