For approaching two decades he’s been among the ego upper echelon of football managers, but Jose Mourinho has always backed up fanciful boasts with a steady haul of trophies, championships and personal accolades.
Nevertheless, some observers have questioned his recent judgement, and with good reason, as a clutch of seemingly petty incidents have snowballed into something potential unsettling.
In isolation an underwhelming summer transfer window, patchy pre-season and disappointing start to the 2015-16 Premier League campaign are not anything to get too steamy under the collar about. It is the Portuguese coach’s reaction to these that hasn’t gone down well in certain quarters.
The enemy within
Most concerning for many Chelsea supporters is the manner in which the self anointed “Special One” chastised his hitherto heralded medical chief Eva Carneiro, unfairly in the eyes of most onlookers, for tending to a stricken Eden Hazard during an opening day contest with Swansea City.
Her immediate intervention meant that The Blues, already a man down thanks to Thibaut Courtois’ dismissal early in the second half, were temporarily reduced to nine until the Belgian winger was allowed to return to the pitch.
Stamford Bridge Scapegoat
Jose had steam gushing from his lug-holes at the conclusion of the 2-2 draw with the Welsh side and, as he has so often in the past, he sought out a scapegoat.
Only this time it wasn’t the referee, opposing manager or shape of the balls; Mourinho, the manager emphatic in expressing public loyalty throughout his career, decided to throw his main medic under the bus (possibly the same one he’s accused opponents of parking in previous seasons.)
Carneiro was banished from the bench for the clash of the oil-funded juggernauts with Manchester City, but this failed to improve fortunes as the South London club were humiliated 3-0 by the team now favourites to dethrone them as England’s champions.
Terry out, (Stones in?)
During the match Captain John Terry was substituted for the first time in 177 league matches under Mourinho, cutting a gloomy figure on the visitors’ bench for the remainder of the contest.
Two competitive matches is evidently not enough to make an assessment on a manager whose battalion so recently cruised to their first league title in five years with the efficiency demanded from the top.
What is clear in this era of milk, honey, oil and embarrassing riches, is that those who stand still are soon surpassed by proactive peers. Gone are the days of bedding in skittish youth players until Christmas, certainly when it applies to those at the top of the pyramid.
The modern game is a fickle one; yesterday’s apple of the eye is destined to become tomorrow’s decomposing core. One misplaced utterance or flicker of ill-fortune can be the trigger for itchy-fingered billionaires to direct their firing squad towards former icons.
As the strain grows on Mourinho, he will privately regret his own hair trigger tendencies which have resulted in a world-class medic contemplating her position, and a long-serving captain hardly able to conceal his disgruntlement.
The Special One is mortal after all it seems.