Player petulance or board stupid?

In 2007, it was player power that saw the end of Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge at Chelsea, fast forward 8 years and history looks to be repeating itself at Stamford Bridge.
Just as it did in 2007 with Mourinho, in 2009 with Luiz Felipe Scolari and in 2012 with Andres Villas Boas, the Chelsea players’ abysmal form is putting the manager under ever increasing pressure. It’s not rocket science is it? Chelsea go through managers in much the same way Elizabeth Taylor went through husbands – deliriously happy in the early days believing this would be ‘the one’ until the inevitable, acrimonious, public breakdowns and the just as public search for a new suitor.
The use of Liz Taylor’s marriages isn’t even as ridiculous as it might seem either because in today’s world, just as in football, no-one has the patience to work through stuff. In fact, in a world where consumerism rules, spoilt brat syndrome is rife. We want everything and want it now – to hell with the cost. If it’s not working, get rid of it and get another one. In fact, even if it is working but just happens to be showing the first signs of wear and tear, replace it. Evidently it matters not whether that’s a toaster or a PS3, a spouse or a Premier League manager.
We’ll berate players who kiss the badge right before they hand in transfer requests because they clearly lack the loyalty we expect, whilst in the next breath wanting rid of players who wear the Chelsea shirt because they’re not consistently performing as we’d like them to, and that just about sums up the lack of tolerance that’s all too commonplace now.
One thing we should be clear about though, is that whoever might happen to be managing or playing for us, Chelsea don’t have a divine right to win anything. Whatever me might win has to be earned. Unfortunately, right now our players would struggle to justify earning minimum wage let alone the shiny stuff and that’s where player power could be throwing a spanner in the works.
Whilst back in April, Jose Mourinho might have been insisting “Chelsea leadership is my leadership. For good and for bad. It’s not the players’ leadership”, rumour has it an as yet unnamed player has suggested he’d rather lose than win for the current Chelsea boss. Almost unthinkable really, yet sadly not altogether unbelievable given Claude Makelele’s previous allegations of the tiff between Mourinho and John Terry being at the bottom of Jose’s last departure. Our form was decidedly suspect at the time and Makelele’s autobiography suggests Roman Abramovich stood by the players.
Another former player, who recalls where it all went wrong with Scolari, seems to back up this theory, saying “some players, if they had a problem with the coach, didn’t speak with him but instead communicated directly with the directors. That isn’t good for a team.” Same for Villas Boas because whilst it was our players looking about as enamoured under him as they’d be under a dentist with halitosis, their poor performances saw him out the door as well.
Now here we are, just months after winning a title and the same players who won it, quite frankly don’t look like they could win an argument. As a supporter of many years, as much as I try to keep the faith, I have to admit to feeling almost resigned to losing every week now – and why wouldn’t I? Cesc Fabregas has been on the missing list since Christmas, Nemanja Matic’s form is as deadly in its absence as it was in its presence, Diego Costa is going for the club’s record time suspended in a single season and having carried us for the best part of half a season in the last campaign, Eden Hazard seems to be awaiting the return of that favour now. Even the Chelsea captain is looking like a player who held his retirement party in the summer and forgot to tell us. So Oscar and Ramires can say what they like about the players trying to help the boss out as much as they can because in truth, the way they’re playing, the only thing they’ll be helping him to is yet another pay-off from the Chelsea board.
Is player power rearing its head again at Chelsea though? Well if the rumours about a) player(s) not wanting to get results for Jose and b) Roman lining up Carlo Ancelotti (again) are true, then it looks likely the Chelsea owner has learnt absolutely nothing from past mistakes.
As Liz would tell us, the rule of thumb with relationships is that they almost never work second time around – the reasons they broke down in the first place will still be there except they’ll have turned from festering sores to old wounds that don’t ever truly heal. They leave scars as a constant reminder of how fragile the union really is and it doesn’t take much to open them up again.
Either way though, the bottom line here is that if the Chelsea board genuinely believe that getting rid of our most successful manager ever (again) is in the best interests of the club and its supporters, particularly on the say so of petulant players, then you’d have to think it’s not the players or the endless stream of managers with the real problem here after all.

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