It was Saturday 24th September a chastened Chelsea team had been demolished by a rampant Arsenal. The players had performed pitifully and there were even reports new manager Antonio Conte was already under pressure for his job, especially as this was their second poor performance in just eight days after their home defeat against Liverpool the previous week. At the time they were 8 points from the top of the table and a title charge was a long way off. Roll on a month and after their 4-0 demolition of Manchester United last weekend they are a point from the top and well in race to top the league.
PLENTY OF TIME
As we stand it is now Jose Mourinho who is under huge pressure. His players, bar a few, were a total disgrace at Stamford Bridge – no pride, no passion, no brains, no effort, no clue – a shambolic embarrassment. However he can look to what his old employers have done, only 9 games in and only 6 points off the top so it is not all doom and gloom at Old Trafford but a fix is needed and fast, though it will be much harder for the Portuguese to do. With the clubs Europa League commitments he does not have as much time at the Italian does to work on playing style, systems and tactics, their record after Thursday night fixtures says it all of LDL (2 goals for, 8 goals conceded)
SYSTEMS AND TACTICS
One thing Jose has to do is make changes and settle on a preferred system that gets the best out of his players, though they have a massive responsibility to actually turn up and do the basics which was not the case on Sunday where they let the manager down. However it is his job to now solve the problems and to be honest he knows that himself. He has a number of players on the fringes of the squad which he needs to utilise better. The lack of use of Henrik Mkhitaryan is a strange one, especially as he is fit now and cost over 25m. Playing time for holding midfielders Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin has also been kept to a minimum and only Jose and his coaching staff will know why. An injury to Eric Bailly is no help, but he has been backed by the board at Old Trafford and given huge amounts to spend so that’s no excuse.
So next up is the small matter of a Manchester derby in the EFL Cup this Wednesday (26th October), so the pressure is only going to be ramped up. A home match against Burnley on Saturday is followed by a long journey to Turkey to play Fenerbahce in the Europa League before a trip to the Liberty Stadium to play a struggling Swansea before the next international break. According to some people (mainly rival fans of Manchester United) – Mourinho is a busted flush. His record as manager is outstanding and right up there with the greats, however his legacy is now on the line and he knows it especially the way his Chelsea reign ended. This is now his biggest challenge ever in football management, maybe humiliation by his former club will be the catalyst.
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