Still blame Jose Mourinho and not Chelsea’s players for this mess?

Welcome to the world of Jose Mourinho. Now press play. 

In the last six seasons – three at Real Madrid, three at Chelsea – if we take the Champions League, league title and the main domestic cup as the three major trophies, Jose Mourinho has won three major trophies out of a possible 18. This is fact, not fiction. Only blind Chelsea fans who would follow him off a cliff would still call him a win machine or ‘the special one’. LVG69, Madrid.

It’s not fact, mate. It’s cobblers. How can Mourinho be considered to have completed three seasons at Chelsea when we’re less than halfway through the third. Would you kindly tell me which manager has won numbers 16 to 18 of your trophies, considering the season in question hasn’t finished. Who won the Champions League in 2015-16, who won the various domestic leagues and the domestic cups? I know Mourinho’s special but I don’t think even he could win the 2016 FA Cup, when Chelsea’s first match in it is scheduled for January 10, 2016 and he was sacked on December 17, 2015. Same with the Champions League. But, hey, I know why you didn’t want to delve back six completed seasons – because that takes you to 2009-10 and the treble with Inter Milan. If we go back six completed seasons, then Mourinho has won six of 18 trophies in that time. Pep Guardiola has won seven, so it’s not much of a gulf. True, he did have a year off, but he also took over a club that had just won the treble, so he wasn’t exactly giving himself mission impossible. As for Louis van Gaal, the man you would appear to admire so much: two. The domestic double in Germany in 2009-10. So, looked at in terms of feasibility – in other words not chastising him for failing to win a competition that hasn’t take place – I’d say Mourinho has held his end up. Anyway, as the rest of you have probably guessed this is the Jose debate. Not the first, and I’d wager not the last either. I wrote two pieces about his departure at the end of last week – the first questioning the commitment of the players, the second exploring why Chelsea managers find it so easy to lose the dressing room. You’ll have your own thoughts, I’m sure. Buckle up.

Gary Neville is currently best suited for Chelsea. John Jon, Ipswich.

Well, Valencia are certainly as volatile.

Pointless article as usual from the Daily Mail. The players are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. You are already making a case for criticising them if they win their next match. So if they lose again will you have more respect for them? Jason3, London.

My respect for many among this group of players evaporated long ago, Jason, when they were so obviously short-changing the club and its manager. You say they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Isn’t that exactly the Catch-22 conundrum that I identified in the piece? And wasn’t it borne out when Chelsea beat Sunderland on Saturday and some players were still booed or mocked – including the scorers?

Diego Costa received a mixed reaction, including some boos and jeers, in Chelsea's win over Sunderland

Diego Costa received a mixed reaction, including some boos and jeers, in Chelsea’s win over Sunderland

Poor Mourinho, nothing is ever his fault. Roman Abramovich is the most important man at Chelsea and it’s him they should be worried about losing. David, Reading.

Obviously, Abramovich’s ownership is key to the modern Chelsea, but you forget another influential figure. The waning influence of John Terry on the field has been crucial. He will as hard to replace as Luis Suarez was at Liverpool or Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United, albeit for entirely different reasons.

People got carried away with Chelsea last year. I think Martin Keown said at one stage that they were close to the perfect team. Is that really what a so-called expert should be saying about a team that won a poor league by making fewer mistakes than everyone else? The standard of the top teams this season versus the amount invested is shocking. Smaller teams are going out and buying quality where they need it and mixing it with young players because of the rules around homegrown players and a need to watch their finances. It’s baring fruit. Look at Leicester, Spurs, Stoke, Everton, Crystal Palace. Maybe not this season but last you could add Southampton and Swansea to that. The players at the top teams look like they’ve never met each other in some games. The turnover in managers, and pressure to buy during the transfer windows, is playing havoc with England’s top clubs. Lewis, Manchester.

I think the article you are referring to is from October 2014 when Martin said he thought Chelsea could go the season unbeaten. As a member of the Arsenal Invincibles team there is nothing ‘so-called’ about his expertise when making such a statement. He wasn’t right this time – in fact I think a lot of people are too hasty when talking about Invincible seasons, because there is a reason that feat has only been achieved once since the Victorian era – but Chelsea did lead the league table from first week until last, another outstanding accomplishment. As for the rise of the smaller clubs, I think this is due to the levels of investment rather than careful watching of finances. Stoke, West Ham, Everton and Crystal Palace, for instance, are spending bigger than ever before. Jamie Vardy looks a snip now – but Leicester paid a record fee for a non-league player when they signed him from Fleetwood Town. As for the high turnover of players, this may be the case at Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United where large rebuilding projects have taken place but, if anything, Chelsea suffered the opposite problem – and did not change enough in the summer.

Win or lose it doesn’t matter in this rag, providing the coverage is negative. Typical Britain, can’t stand winners. Sparky, Vancouver.

Chelsea were 16th when Mourinho was sacked. Winning was last season, and Chelsea received widespread praise.

The players were responsible. Ask yourself how they managed to do well enough to top their Champions League group? Answer: they didn’t want to damage their career prospects by crashing out of the most prestigious competition. The whole debacle has been a cynical and calculated attempt to get the best manager the club has seen, dismissed. Govt Inaction, United Kingdom.

I find the Champions League resurgence rather curious, too. It is almost as if players know that Real Madrid are more likely to be monitoring European form than an away fixture against Leicester in December.

Chelsea managed to top their Champions League group despite falling to 16th in the Premier League

Chelsea managed to top their Champions League group despite falling to 16th in the Premier League

The other clubs should just remember when buying players that the Chelsea squad turned on their manager. Do they want that type of player in their teams? David Thomas Vickers, Crewe.

They always think it won’t be them, David. It’s pitiful, really.

A great manager understands his players and knows when to bite and when to blow. High energy inflexible coaches are good for a few seasons but they eventually lose their team. Players get tired of the constant friction and tune them out. Mourhino players’ were burnt out towards the end of last season and he could not get them to respond this season. Eden Hazard just wants to play football minus the drama but Mourinho made him central to his feud with Dr Eva Carneiro. Mourhino was fired because he caused a lot of his players to lose confidence then did not know how to restore it. Don’t you think Arsene Wenger was upset with his players for losing their first two Champions League games this season? He did not insult them publically, though, because he knew he would still need them to be at their best. Look at Olivier Giroud. If he played for Mourinho he would be gone from the first team. Boweigo, Liberia.

That first sentence must contain a phrase that means something else in Monrovia, Boweigo, because I really don’t think blowing the players was the way forward here. Mourinho is in enough trouble with the Carneiro business without adding a whole raft of sexual harassment charges to an already awkward situation. That said, the idea that Mourinho’s methods burn out his staff is one that is increasingly gathering credence. Fabio Capello said as much, and so did Demba Ba. I do think, however, that a sense of professional pride should have taken over, rather than a blatant downing of tools. As for Giroud, I feel that judgement is a little harsh. Mourinho stuck by Diego Costa for a lot longer than he should. I don’t think he was disloyal to his players. I feel they let him down and didn’t leave many options.

I listened to the commentary of Bournemouth’s game at Chelsea and the players appeared to give 100 per cent – so if the results do have an immediate improvement it will rather point to the fact that Mourinho was incapable of getting his tactics right and having a plan B, rather than the players’ attitude. Bill, United Kingdom.

You know what happened after Chelsea shipped five at Tottenham last season? That was a plan B. You know when Mourinho won the Champions League with two relatively inferior teams – Porto and Inter Milan – tactics, right there. It is laughable to suggest a man with Mourinho’s track record will have forgotten how to organise a team or have alternate means of playing. Remember last season when everyone said Chelsea would fade the moment Diego Costa got injured? He did, they didn’t. Again, down to Mourinho.

Mourinho was fired because he turned Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Oscar, Pedro, Willian and Ramires into defensive players. These players should be creating and scoring goals, with a little bit of defence. Angus Beeff AG, Toronto.

Shall we walk this one through? So that’s six players exempt from defensive responsibility – bar ‘a little bit’ – and I presume you want your striker scoring goals, so that’s Costa out, too. So, seven outfield players, plus the goalkeeper, leaving room for three defenders or defensive midfield players. Yes, I can certainly see why Mourinho had to be fired with tactical geniuses like you on the market.

If I’ve got a rubbish manager at work, I don’t want to work hard for them. If I like my manager then I do work hard. Football is no different. If the players didn’t want to play for Mourinho then that is his fault. Chunk, Liverpool.

Wrong, because you don’t get to decide whether your manager is good or bad. His employer does that, and your presumption that whatever suits you personally is also best for your company suggests you are probably not Employee of the Month. It could, however, explain why you’ve got time to post on message boards during the day. And on that bombshell, a rare and subject appropriate little gem from John Lee Hooker.

Mourinho failed to get Chelsea playing. He had ample chances to turn it around and made plenty of promises both to Abramovich and fans that he could – but the evidence simply wasn’t there. If the team did turn against him and stop playing for him, then he has ultimate responsibility for that – what did he do to cause it? Mourinho was Chelsea’s leader and his failure to motivate and inspire the team is his alone. Chelsea fans who blame the players for Mourinho’s failure clearly don’t understand why teams need managers; or why they earn so much. Nick, London.

You will notice, in both pieces I wrote after Mourinho’s sacking, that I did not say the club had made a big mistake. It was precisely for that reason – he kept promising change would come, but it didn’t – that I can see the club’s point-of-view. Of course the results are his responsibility – and certainly they were not good enough. I can’t place the blame purely at his feet, though, Nick. There is nothing he could have said or done that would explain a drop from first to 16th, if the players had displayed an ounce of personal pride.

We, the Chelsea Pitch Owners, should refuse to allow any work on the pitch, and watch these morons on the transfer committee and board wallow in their s***. Eugene Regan, London.

Are you taking your anger out on the right people, though, Eugene? I’m not sure Abramovich is the villain here – he was placed in an invidious position.

Go and check Chelsea’s history. Anytime they sack a coach, the next manager raises the team. Maybe it’s a template that works and I will not be surprised if the same thing happens. What about putting players in their right positions? Ikenna, Lagos.

So Avram Grant improved on Mourinho’s first spell? And Andre Villas-Boas on Carlo Ancelotti? Face it, Chelsea’s path has been erratic at best. Hiddink will surely take Chelsea up the league, but he could hardly have made it worse, in the circumstances.

Mourinho is an overpaid, sulky, dummy-spitting manager, with zero charisma and an egotistical arrogance beyond belief. He has only won medals working for super-rich clubs with a plethora of stars and will only be deemed a good manager if he manages a mediocre, mid-table club and wins trophies through great coaching and hard work. Until then, stop feeding his ego by saying he is a great manager. Lnitbitw, United Kingdom.

By the standards of the modern Champions League, both Porto and Inter Milan could be deemed mediocre. And, tell me, how many mediocre, mid-table clubs has Pep Guardiola managed – or is he overpaid and over-rated, too?

Good that he is gone. He went too far and you can’t behave like that. Mourinho is not bigger than the club or the team. He completely messed up this time and needs to take a break, go see a shrink and come back a new man in a year or two – but not to Chelsea. Paull, London.

I think he’ll be back at Chelsea, Paul, and maybe even sooner than you think. Not in the home dressing room, obviously. That ship has sailed now. Still, it should be fun when he does. Can you remember when he came back with Inter Milan in 2010? Chelsea had won the Double under Ancelotti the year before, yet Inter won both games, 3-1 on aggregate.

Should the unthinkable happen and Chelsea get relegated, the players’ contracts will contain a clause stating they can just leave or request a transfer. Then the true Chelsea players will emerge – the ones that stay and fight their way back into the Premier League. The players that are just there for the money will be gone to other clubs. Setiarecibo, United Kingdom.

Jose Mourinho is now kicking his heels after his sacking, waiting for his next job in management

Jose Mourinho is now kicking his heels after his sacking, waiting for his next job in management

There is not a chance Chelsea will get relegated – and not a prayer these players would stay and fight if they did. Equally, however, I doubt there are provisions concerning free transfers in the event of relegation. That is not how contracts work. Chelsea would never have considered the prospect of relegation – in the same way that Blackpool’s bonus system had not contemplated the possibility of promotion, the year they came up to the Premier League.

You say there are certain players with no interest in the club. Why did Mourinho not get rid of them? Managers manage: that’s what they get paid for. FAIRGAME123, London.

You’ve heard of the transfer window, right? The days when managers could ditch a player and buy a new one in October with a click of the fingers have ended. The present system has been in place since 2002-03. That’s plenty of time for you to have caught up.

Mourinho the greatest motivator in the game? Chelsea were sitting 16th with nearly half the league season gone and one point off a relegation spot. Great managers don’t sink that low. Mourinho is an over-rated, eye-poking, chequebook manager. A two-season wonder before the wheels come off every time. JMOWT, Belfast.

Yes, but in one of those seasons his team has usually won the league (Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea; or the Champions League (Porto, Inter Milan); or both. And if great managers don’t sink that low, by your reckoning, Brian Clough wasn’t all that special either.

This was trial by the media and the treacherous players at Chelsea. Jamie Carragher said at the weekend that Mourinho should be sacked for the good of the club. What gives him the right to demand the sacking of a manager? Kensviews, Cambridge.

Jamie didn’t demand anything. He was answering a question about what could be done to arrest the slide at Chelsea and responded, quite sensibly, that it is impossible to jettison half of the team and rebuild mid-season, so the only option is to change the manager. It was a sensible analysis. Jamie acknowledged the players had let Mourinho down, but dealt with the practicalities of Chelsea’s predicament. I’d say his views are considerably more considered than yours.

I’m a Chelsea fan and I think Mourinho got himself the sack. The fans, the press and pundits kept urging him to play the youth, at least their loyalty is not yet compromised, but he wouldn’t. Jose should take a sabbatical. Abramovich has invested more than a £100m in the academy and we need a manager who will integrate them into the first team. Chelseatakethelead, Lagos.

Youth, schmooth. Mourinho played 20-year-old Kurt Zouma against Tottenham in the Capital One Cup last season and has integrated him gradually with great success, until the senior players around him downed tools. I’ve seen Rufus Loftus-Cheek this season. He’s been OK, nothing more, but he hasn’t turned in performances that have demanded his inclusion. I remember my first job as a messenger at Hayters Sports Agency and the desire to impress I felt when they first gave me a chance to do some writing. I think Mourinho expected more of that from Loftus-Cheek, the hunger and aspiration of youth. Indeed, considering the performances of some senior players, do you really think if he had a team of young guns chomping at the bit, he wouldn’t have promoted them? The best ones are on loan, and the others aren’t good enough yet. Let’s see how many Guus Hiddink plays before damning Mourinho.

It was the players that caused the problem. The shocking lack of effort, the diving. Chelsea players like John Terry have a history of backstabbing managers – remember Villas-Boas and Rafa Benitez? PingPong, Helsingborg.

Why is everyone surprised? They’ve done this before. Remember Villas-Boas? They even tried it on Benitez after he called out Terry on his old legs. There’s a hierarchy within that dressing-room that won’t be told anything. They’re ruining that club. DDrayton89, London.

What the old legs that started every league game in a title winning campaign in which Chelsea led from start to finish, you mean? Those old legs? It was Benitez that ditched Terry, not the other way around. Villas-Boas did not drop Terry, but he left him exposed with the high line defence. I don’t think Terry stopped playing for Villas-Boas, he was totally unsuited to the system and it was a huge mistake, to undermine your best defender like that. The slump in form was inevitable.

Terry is the suspect. I even said the same thing last week. El Gunner, New York.

And you were wrong last week. And this week, too.

This happens at all the Premier League clubs that sack a manager. They all suddenly start playing properly when the new man steps in. Suddenly, when things don’t go their way for a few games, it all starts slipping again. The problem lies with the clubs that are so willing to sack a new manager and start afresh. For example, anybody taking over at Sunderland inherits a squad assembled by five other managers, and is then expected to work wonders and make them stay in the Premier League. Duff-Mayn, Bristol.

Yes, it happens at other clubs but never on this scale. To go from first to 16th is unheard of, even Manchester United under David Moyes only tumbled from first to seventh – and he had an inferior squad to Chelsea. To fall a few places in the table would suggest that any slacking off by the players may be an unconscious act rather than a deliberate one; some players ease up after they have secured a title or promotion because they lack motivation. But to fall from being Champions to a point off the relegation zone implies that with some players the lack of effort may be deliberate – and that is a whole different ball game. Pat57, Exeter.

I agree, Pat. Had Chelsea slipped out of the top four it would still have been a surprise but not evidence of a mutiny. What happened under Mourinho felt quite different.

It’s plainly obvious considering their performances that the players were not performing for Mourinho – the same situation happened at Swansea under Garry Monk. There is too much player power. I can guarantee there are boys down the park playing Saturday or Sunday league football who would show more heart and desire than these Premier League prima donnas. Straight2thpoint, United Kingdom.

No doubt. But they couldn’t trap a bag of cement. That’s why they’re playing in a park.

The real spiritual leader of Chelsea was Didier Drogba. Does anyone seriously believe that he would have allowed his fellow Chelsea players to down tools and conspire to sack one of the greatest managers in history? No? Neither do I. One of the most malignant forces at Chelsea has been Terry and his negativity has spread throughout the team. Abramovich will ship out that traitor for good at the end of this season. Good riddance. Kill Bill11, Orlando.

Really? Ask Luis Felipe Scolari if he thought Drogba gave everything. And traitor Terry would not have been taking the anchor penalty in the 2008 Champions League final if Drogba hadn’t got himself sent off minutes before the shootout. Terry wasn’t the problem under Mourinho. In fact, the biggest obstacle Chelsea’s new manager faces is replacing him, long term. He is the greatest player Chelsea have had. And now, changing the subject slightly, for those Kill Bill fans out there, it’s the one that goes woo hoo. The original, not the film version, obviously.

So where is your best now? Gone with the wind. The best is the one that has lasted all of 19 years, won three Premier League trophies, a cache of FA Cups, built a 60,000 stadium and has loads of class to booth. And, don’t forget, plays sexy soccer. Opah, Lagos.

Arsene Wenger, you mean. Yes, but that only means he was won the Premier League as many times in 19 years in England as Jose Mourinho has in five. And I notice you pick FA Cups, where Wenger is strongest with six, and not the Champions League (Mourinho 2 Wenger 0), the UEFA Cup (Mourinho 1 Wenger 0) or the League Cup (Mourinho 3 Wenger 0). And just as the Emirates Stadium is built on the brilliance of Wenger, so Chelsea’s new stadium is a result of the way Mourinho used Abramovich’s investment to make the club a global success story. While Arsenal play my favourite style of football, Chelsea under Mourinho could play some good stuff, too. That 6-0 against Arsenal in 2014 seemed quite sexy to me.

Chelsea haven’t played sexy soccer since Gianfranco Zola left. Even when they had the best team they were still boring. Gman, Cheshire.

Not as boring as that tired old opinion, mate; or as wrong.

It reminds me of the days of Leeds United and Brian Clough, when the players decided that the best manager in Britain was not fit to tie their shoelaces. What happened to Leeds after that? Maybe Abramovich should have said to Mourinho, ‘sort them out, play the reserve team if that’s what you need to do, but make it clear that I pay their wages and I’ll make life damned hard for them if they don’t start performing’. If they’re on a four-year contract they can play in the reserves for that time and then they won’t be good enough for the Northern Conference. Rogerz, Wolverhampton.

The difference being that Clough was new at Leeds and the lack of respect may have been mutual. Mourinho had just guided these players to the title. As for sticking the team in the reserves, Chelsea could not do that while still observing the remnants of the financial fair play rules. Also, I’m pretty sure the players would then have a constructive dismissal case, if the action could be demonstrated as arbitrary.

Mourinho’s style was wrong for the attack minded players he had. If he had kept to his style of play in the first half of last season things would have panned out, but he reverted back to his old way of defending and hitting on the counter which didn’t go down well. Anyone who comes in and changes to free flowing attacking football will now look like a genius. Pedanna, Milwaukee.

Chelsea shipped five at Tottenham on January 1 and Mourinho decided he couldn’t risk a more open style from there. Yet, after losing that game, Chelsea still scored 29 goals in their last 18 matches, better than any Premier League teams bar Manchester City and Arsenal, and level with Tottenham. As for looking like a genius, any manager who follows Mourinho has a fair wind behind him, because this group of players are clearly not the 16th best in the league so, wonderful attacking football or not, results will improve once they start playing to their potential.

More or less the same happened to David Moyes at Manchester United. An ageing team took its foot off the gas when Sir Alex Ferguson left, didn’t really want to play for Moyes and undermined him. They’re not doing any better under Louis Van Gaal. In both cases United’s position is due largely to other teams’ results. Prester John, United Kingdom.

I agree that Van Gaal is very fortunate the elite teams are having inconsistent seasons.

So some Chelsea fans are not supporting Chelsea, but supporting the former manager. Have you stopped to think why the players don’t want him there? If the supporters start booing, then the players definitely won’t perform any better. In fact, it could be a complete disaster. They may refuse to play for Chelsea, which could quite possibly result in the club being relegated. I didn’t hear many Willian or Ramires chants before, yet they have both played their socks off over the past weeks. All I ever heard was ‘Jose Mourinho’ and that in itself will have an effect on the players. If you’re a Chelsea supporter you’ll get behind the players as much as possible this season, regardless of how much you hate them. If you’re a Mourinho supporter, you’ll boo. At least I can say I had no participation in Chelsea’s demise. ACB2, London.

I think the point the dissenting fans are making is that they have an affiliation with Mourinho, who they feel shares their love for Chelsea. They are sceptical that the players have the same attachment. I don’t think that makes them any less loyal. As for supporting the players, all you hear at Stamford Bridge these days is the Willian song about rejecting Tottenham. It seems to be their favourite. You sound like one of those kids who blames himself for his parents’ divorce. It wasn’t your fault, ACB. There was nothing you could do. Singing their names wouldn’t have helped. They had just grown apart. Sometimes these things happen.

I hope Guus Hiddink uses the transfer window to get rid of the underperforming players and the ones who masterminded the sacking of Mourinho – because he won’t be safe with them around, either. Bpl143, Dubai.

Hiddink knows what he has got, and his priority will be to build bridges with a squad he knows is capable of title-winning form. He is not going to conduct a vendetta on Mourinho’s behalf. You forget, too, that he might fancy the job himself this time – on his last occasion as interim he was always leaving at the end of the season.

Mourinho’s transfer dealings have been disastrous. Sold: Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, David Luiz, Juan Mata, Ryan Bertrand, Andre Schurrle. Bought: Fabregas, Juan Cuadrado, Mohamed Salah, Pedro and Radamel Falcao. Mourinho’s treatment of Eva Caneiro and Loftus-Cheek has been a disgrace. Combined with shocking results and losing the dressing room Abramovich had no choice but to pull the trigger. Chelsea supporters should get behind the team and the new manager and allow Mourinho to rest in peace. DaiDunga, United Kingdom.

They always amuse me, the posters who think we’re stupid. So you reckon you can just leave Willian, Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic out of your list and we’ll all forget that he bought them, too. And that, along with Fabregas, they all helped Chelsea win a league title which, with the exception of Luiz, is something none in your list of sold players has done since leaving Chelsea. Yes, Mourinho has made mistakes in the transfer market. All managers do. He gets more right than wrong, though.

Romelu Lukaku is held up as a Mourinho transfer mistake - but he has had many successes in the market

Romelu Lukaku is held up as a Mourinho transfer mistake – but he has had many successes in the market

How can he be the greatest motivator in the game? Have you not seen how Chelsea have been playing? Tactics? Do me a favour – parking the bus isn’t tactical genius, when lesser managers do it they are accused of being negative. He has been outplayed all season. Mourinho is lucky – he got lucky with a side already on the brink of a title, he got lucky that his players wanted one last hurrah before breaking down, he got lucky with the sides he took over in Europe. Who couldn’t win with Real Madrid? Seriously I could win the title with that squad and not even turn up to the ground. Delman666, London.

Lucky? A team on the brink of the title? So, here, based on league appearances is Chelsea’s team the season before Mourinho took over. Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Torres. And here is Chelsea last season, using the same criteria. Courtois, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Oscar, Willian, Hazard, Costa. So, seven different names. Chelsea weren’t on the verge of anything when Mourinho arrived that second time. They got knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage and finished third, 14 points adrift of Manchester United in the league. The previous season they had been 25 points shy of Manchester City. And lucky with players that wanted a last hurrah before breaking down? So players can break down to order, can they? That’s how fitness works, is it? ‘I’m going to play really well this season, because next year I’m breaking down.’ Are you sure? And who couldn’t win the league with Real Madrid? Well here are three names: Juande Ramos, Manuel Pellegrini and Carlo Ancelotti, all of whom couldn’t do it, before and after Mourinho. In fact, no Real Madrid manager has won the league since 2008 – apart from Mourinho. Of the last 12 Real Madrid managers, only three have won the league. Madrid scored 10 goals at the weekend and still got booed. It is a very hard club to manage. You know nothing about Real Madrid if that’s your take, I’m afraid.

Funny that when Wenger wins the FA Cup, the media refer to it as meaningless and irrelevant – yet when their little darling wins it, they talk of it as a major trophy. T.Carter, London.

When was the FA Cup mentioned? It rarely gets acknowledged in articles about Mourinho because there are all those titles and European trophies to list first.

I hope Dr Carneiro gets lots of money. He destroyed someone who was good at, and really enjoyed, her job. It can never now be the same. To me that is a crime. ERD1, United States.

How do you know she was good at her job? How do you know she liked her job? You’re projecting. I have no idea of her professional capabilities but I have read that Mourinho had asked for a new doctor during the summer, but the club would not make the change. If that is correct, then what happened on the first day of the season was a conflict bubbling under for some time. ‘From what I’ve heard, he’s well rid,’ a senior figure in football management told a friend of mine earlier in the season. I have no idea what he meant, or whether there was a scrap of justification in his words. And that’s the point. We cannot presume competence, or otherwise. It just seems to me there is more to this than one row on the touchline.

If Van Gaal has difficulties with players it is him who is responsible. If Mourinho loses the dressing-room it’s the bad attitude of the players. Emerson, Germany.

Yes, but Van Gaal is not having difficulty with his players, who are clearly performing as he instructs them. Plainly, Chelsea were not playing as Mourinho wished, hence his increasing fury and dramatic team changes and substitutions.

Chelsea haven’t played that badly, they have dominated most games and could have drawn just about every match they have lost – but that invincibility has gone. Why? Urchie, Somerset.

Well, it’s more than just luck, Urchie, but I agree – a lot of the Chelsea games I have seen an odd bad break has been the difference. But that isn’t luck either. Against Bournemouth, Chelsea dominated the second-half, couldn’t score and then conceded from a rare Bournemouth corner. But look at Ivanovic’s woeful attempt to block in the build-up to the goal. Luck has nothing to do with that.

How will Chelsea’s players look like cheats for beating Sunderland? Mourinho’s philosophy wasn’t working. So, with that logic, Liverpool are also looking like cheats, because it’s been a 360 degree turnaround. Nunofya, United States.

Yes, you’re all about the logic aren’t you mate? A 360 degree turnaround would put you back where you started. It would be a circle, ending at the point of origin. A 180 degree turn would represent the biggest distance from the starting point. I presume that’s what you meant. As for Liverpool, well the sudden increase in work rate makes one suspect the application of the players under Brendan Rodgers, certainly, but against that Jurgen Klopp does demand a more energetic, pressing style. Equally, Rodgers managed eight Liverpool league games this year, with a record of W3 D3 L2, Klopp has managed nine with a record of W3 D3 L3. So there is close to no difference in league form, although marquee wins over Chelsea and Manchester City give a positive impression. But Liverpool’s form before and after Klopp is in no way comparable to first to 16th.

John Terry has never taken command on the field. He hasn’t got it in him. Franny, Auckland.

You’ve not watched much football, have you mate?

What’s really annoying about this is Mourinho coming out as the victim. We know what he was saying and doing. People, people, people – just wait until the books start coming out. Rastapuff, Thorney Mead.

Yes, but books are single source stories, invariably painting the author in a positive light. Why would you treat them so trustingly? And now, arguably my favourite Rasta. Dear old Winston Rodney.

Mourinho only has himself to blame the way he got rid of Juan Mata, Chelsea’s best player for three seasons before he arrived. You also have the impressive Lukaku, who was crying out for regular starts, and De Bruyne – everyone knew he was going to be a heck of player. Then there is Salah and Schurrle both good attacking threats. What was the point of signing them if they were not going to be used then moved on? David Bigs, London.

Mata has been disappointing at Manchester United, and the fans at Wolfsburg were saying much the same about Schurrle. As for De Bruyne, people forget Mourinho started him in the opening game of the 2013-14 season, and against Manchester United away in August, and he played nine games for him before being sold to Wolfsburg. I don’t know who these people were who were calling him as a £50m player, because I didn’t hear too many at the time. The same with Salah, even Lukaku. It is very easy to identify a player when he has scored nine goals in eight matches for Everton, but Lukaku is much better player now than he was at Chelsea. He couldn’t break into the side under the managers that preceded Mourinho and was loaned to West Brom. A lot of the sales under Mourinho were caused by a change in club policy to comply with financial fair play. He needed to sell to buy, so he sold or loaned younger players that were on the fringes but had value – like Lukaku or De Bruyne.

The players got him sacked? What about you and your cohorts? Sitting there daily, lambasting the man for no other reason than hatred. You need to bloody raise your hands too. Bobby, Los Angeles.

Never read a word I’ve written, have you Bobby?

So were Liverpool’s players ‘cheats’ for improving after a change of manager? A team that came close to winning the league one season under Rodgers followed that with a poor season – and the press told us all very clearly that the players did not want to perform for Rodgers. But did anyone say those players would be ‘cheats’ if they improved under Klopp? Of course not. It would have been an inane thing to say. Just as inane as saying Chelsea’s players will be ‘cheats’ if they start winning. In my opinion, it is an article like this that ‘cheats’, by presenting its audience with double-talk instead of worthwhile insights. Sir Cecil, San Francisco.

But, as shown earlier, Liverpool haven’t improved in the league under Klopp. They are averaging 1.33 points per game, as opposed to 1.37 under Rodgers this season. As for the dip the season after contesting the title, that is easily explained by selling Luis Suarez, losing Daniel Sturridge to injury for long periods and having to integrate so many new players. Even then, they weren’t facing a relegation fight, just a Europa League, rather than a Champions League finish. And I didn’t hear that the players did not want to perform for Rodgers, other than the odd rumoured gripe from one not in the team or out of position. Still, I wouldn’t say you are cheating with your bogus opinions, Cecil. I just think you’re not very bright.

With Hazard, has it not occurred to you that after last season other teams devised a way to stifle him? If you are a coach playing Chelsea you will plan for Hazard. Ikenna, Lagos.

I am sure teams planned for Hazard last season, too. Phil Bardsley certainly did when they played Stoke last December. A good player such as Hazard will have been coming up against defensive strategies his entire career – and he has never disappeared like this.

I would not make any exceptions for Terry. He comes with his own baggage and let previous managers down when he was put on the bench or the system didn’t suit him. His pace is an issue because of his age, not because the system is flawed. The power play is a state of mind for Chelsea’s squad – they know it and use it. They have got many Chelsea managers fired and unless the owner comes out and changes that it will always be the case. He needs to publicly back the manager and the players will get the message and start performing. GnUS, United States.

But he did back the manager, the players called his bluff and he blinked.

 I was there when Hazard subbed himself due to his injury. He’s a pathetic player, with no fight and an utter disgrace to Chelsea. Maybe if he didn’t fall over like a Barbie doll and feign injury every match, then we wouldn’t have had the Carneiro incident and none of this would have spiralled out of control. Other supporters despise Chelsea and I understand why because it’s never about loyalty to managers or players and everything is a quick fix. I’ll not be setting foot in Stamford Bridge again this season. Bogeyes1969, Hastings.

Bold words there, Boggy. I have always been a big fan of Hazard but not this season. I’ve seen some strange things. Very obvious passes that have been inexplicably delayed, a refusal to take responsibility. I thought, undoubtedly, he was Footballer of the Year last season. I can’t remember the last time I was so disappointed in a player.

Eden Hazard has been a shadow of the player who won the Footballer of the Year award last season

Eden Hazard has been a shadow of the player who won the Footballer of the Year award last season

Everyone knows they are a plastic club with hired mercenary and turncoat players. The academy is just there to make money on the likes of Lukaku. Rumpelstiltskin1974, London.

I don’t think Chelsea are less real than any other club. I do think the production line of players is increasingly to benefit the balance sheet not the first team.

What really annoys me about Chelsea this season is that they beat Arsenal due to dubious refereeing decisions that have now been overturned. Those three points would have put us clear. Nero, United Kingdom.

If your team didn’t beat Chelsea when you had the chance Nero, you only have yourselves to blame. Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Southampton, West Ham, Liverpool, Stoke, Bournemouth and Leicester – that’s close to half the league – did.

Martin, you’re just an upmarket version of a local paper sports reporter. Godsfinest, London.

Yes, and you’re just a downmarket version of a person with a valid contribution to make to this debate. Want more like this, people? OK. A brief interlude. Welcome to Insult Corner.

You’re just an upmarket version of Adrian Durham. Dale Munday, Leyland.

And you’re just a downmarket version of that bloke who hangs about outside the station with wee down his trousers and all the plastic bags, muttering in a paranoid manner. Oh, I’m enjoying this. Here’s another one.

Martin Samuel, you and most of the Daily Mail are just an adult version of the Beano. Montyman999, Perth.

Got to love that ‘most’. It reminds me of Jerry Sadowitz’s great line about the News of the World. ‘A w***** believes everything he reads in the News of the World,’ he said, ‘whereas a w*****’s w***** just believes some of the things he reads in the News of the World.’

Way to go Martin Samuel, stick the boot in. You never write much of anything with substance. But then again it’s really my own fault for reading your pathetic drivel. Chelsea 4 ALL, London Ontario.

I could say much the same old son. At least yours was brief though. Although it still left me wanting less. One more?

Little Chelsea have won exactly 50 per cent the amount of European Cups as Nottingham Forrest. Scot Free, Canada.

Indeed. And you’ve got exactly 100 per cent more R’s than you need to spell Forest. Idiot. Well, that was fun. And now, back to reality.

Not sure why you would have to be so harsh on Hiddink. You wrote: ‘Hiddink was the coach of the Dutch team that failed to qualify for Euro 2016, the easiest European Championship in the history of the tournament, the one with 24 teams that could be reached from third place in a group of six.’ For one, Hiddink was in charge for only six games of ten in total. The qualification obviously didn’t run smoothly, but the Netherlands did have their fate in their own hands when Hiddink quit, sitting in third place with ten points from six games. And he quit in late June, leaving Danny Blind with plenty of time to prepare for the crucial fixtures in September. Again, many things went terribly wrong or else he wouldn’t have gone, but the Netherlands only butchered the campaign when Blind was in charge, losing three out of four, two being the super-important matches versus Iceland and Turkey. Mario, United Kingdom.

Yes, but Holland had already lost two super-important games under Hiddink, to Czech Republic and Iceland away, and had drawn with Turkey at home. No, he wasn’t responsible for the whole campaign but, as you concede, he left midway for a reason.

It’s the modern way thanks to too much money in the game and billionaire owners, and now fans, wanting immediate success. Ideally a club would have a spine of homegrown players but how many bring through from their youth systems anymore? There’s no point in using Manchester Utd or Ryan Giggs as an example – they’re heading the same way too. GJ4, London.

I agree, and that was my point. If you look at the names at the start of that piece I was talking about the Ferguson-era Manchester United teams as having the grounding that keeps a dressing-room together.

Willian: what a great character what a great player and role model. Absolutely amazing how he has represented the club and himself in this toxic situation. Would like to hug him and thank him. Villamedici, Bangkok.

Whatever happens from here, he’s Chelsea’s player of the season or there’s no justice.

This is why, to be the best, you need a spine of loyal homegrown players supplemented by stars you bring in. Ferguson did it for years, so too Barcelona and Bayern Munich. The problem is it takes long term planning and commitment on the management side to get in that position, something you never get at Chelsea. Siemprerojo, Malaga.

Couldn’t agree more, Red. That is why it makes me smile when people castigate Mourinho for not bringing through the youth. Considering that Chelsea managers often get the bullet unless they win the league, why the surprise?

This article is saying nothing we haven’t known for decades. Of course players are ‘guns for hire passing through’ – and rightly so. It’s their job, no more, no less. Paul, Milton Keynes.

Some, Paul, some. I don’t think your cynicism can be justified with reference to players like Jamie Carragher, Paul Scholes or Matt Le Tissier. They always seemed to possess a sincere feeling for their clubs.

The number of players who feel genuine attachment to their club, such as Paul Scholes, appears to be waning

The number of players who feel genuine attachment to their club, such as Paul Scholes, appears to be waning

I have a very strong feeling that Mourinho may never recover from this exit and will never manage a top club. The revolt at Chelsea has clearly shown players will not perform for a man without core principles. Clubs will not touch him with a barge pole. Vividred, Northampton.

Really. As I write, some think they have seen a rather large barge pole protruding from Old Trafford.

It is very difficult to imagine any other coach expressing the love for Chelsea that Mourinho did and this is exactly the reason he should have stayed. The Abramovich era has essentially been a project to rip the soul out of the club, and now it has been achieved. The only way to fix it is to make sure Terry does not go for a swan song in the MLS but remains as player-coach with Frank Lampard brought back as assistant, too. Employing Rodgers again would be a good start. But from a club which explicitly considers its young players as a revenue stream via their obscene loan policy it is difficult to imagine this happening. Chelski are here to stay; Chelsea was a club which gave me so many great memories growing up in the eighties and nineties. It died in 2003. Smith Smith8, Budapest.

Really? You’ve taken nothing from the last 12 years? What about those who are teenagers now, who don’t remember Peter Osgood, Kerry Dixon or even Dennis Wise and Zola? Are they allowed to enjoy it? I absolutely agree that Terry and Lampard should be involved in the development of the club, but I don’t think Abramovich has ripped the soul out of it. Chelsea are different now, yes, but so is football. Your club has moved with the times, that is all – and with a good deal more efficiency and success than some of the others.

You could also say the same about Manchester City – just an upmarket Aston Villa or Newcastle. Redcard, Manchester.

Indeed, and Manchester United. That’s the problem with English football, the increasing loss of local identity. I don’t consider it a Chelsea-specific problem.

Guns for hire? Villa’s players are more like water pistols for hire. DFisher, Birmingham.

Brilliant line that, mate. If only your players were as creative.

I’m surprised Samuel would write such an over-simplification. There’s nothing mystical about Manchester United that inspires players. They didn’t play for the club under Moyes, or even now under Van Gaal. Belt of Orion, London.

No, and that’s why the players I named were in their pomp during the Ferguson era when the club had a greater sense of identity.

Cripes, real barrel-scraping going on here, from Mr Samuel. OK, we know he supports West Ham, that team chock-full of local East End lads, eating jellied eels for breakfast. He’s just being paid by the word here, following the editor’s instruction: ‘OK, Martin, we’ve seen the back of Jose, so we now have to start bad mouthing the players, otherwise we’ll lose all the Chelsea hating clickers.’ Male-on-line, London.

I didn’t exempt West Ham from my point about clubs losing local identity; I didn’t exempt any Premier League club in fact. I cited Manchester United’s recent history – not present state – and if I was using current examples of how it could be, they would all be from foreign leagues. My editor will confirm that writing to instruction has rarely been my forte and as for attracting clicks, I am afraid you greatly overstate the significance of your club. If all I wanted to do was create internet traffic, I’d write about Manchester United. Exclusively. Chelsea would barely get a mention. Think about it. How much Chelsea have you seen in the media since Manchester United lost 2-1 against Norwich?

Everyone with eyes could see Alexis Sanchez was Footballer of the Year. Hazard won it because Chelsea won the league. London Is Red, London.

And because he had a better season than Sanchez.

I have to say I’m not sad to see Mourinho go. Some of his actions lately have been disgraceful, particularly the incident with the Dr Carneiro. He’d obviously lost the dressing room but one thing is for certain: he cared a lot more about Chelsea than most of his players did. Batigol, Sheffield.

I agree with all of that, Batty. Mourinho let himself and the club down over Carneiro and on several occasions after that – but I do think he has a genuine allegiance with Chelsea and its fans. I may be getting sentimental, but his reaction to their support during the win over Maccabi Tel Aviv this season seemed genuine enough. And, in fact, I definitely am getting sentimental. So, to finish, a little Charlie Brown Christmas magic from the Vince Guaraldi trio. If this doesn’t make you feel all squishy inside, I’d check your pulse. Happy Christmas all. Until next time.


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