The government has appointed a totally independent committee to advise on one of the greatest problems and mysteries of the age – Mourinho. Its members are Lord Snooty, Judge Dredd, Ken Dodd, Dame Camila Batmanghelidjh and Lobby Lud, OBE. Unlike other government advisory bodies, it has been instructed to report its findings as quickly as possible. Goodness, here it comes. Stand back . . .
1. What has gone wrong?
No one knows. Why players and teams and managers are suddenly rubbish, no one ever knows. Least of all themselves. Otherwise, they would do something about it. Next.
2. Failed footballer syndrome often acts as an extra spur. When players’ careers are brought to a sudden end, they often want to make up for it as a manager. Mourinho never really had a football career, hence he has always overcompensated, browbeating others. This has to be borne in mind when judging his self-obsessive behaviour.
3. The players are past it. A popular explanation – blaming Terry, Ivanovic and Fàbregas for being finished. Fàbregas is a mere babe of 28. If you are good enough, you are young enough.
4. Overachieving. They did last season, especially Eden Hazard. The lack of half-decent competition from other star players, such as Rooney, helped Hazard win the awards.
5. Second-season blues. Like a second novel, the pressure is double that of the first. Chelsea got complacent, podgy, arrogant, thinking they had it sussed. Now they wonder how they ever did it.
6. Failure to buy new players. Mourinho got Falcao – what a mistake – and got turned down by John Stones. We wonder why: is it his behaviour, the things he says and does? If so, it can only get worse. His reputation, once so wonderful, will now work against him. Why, now, would anyone want to board a sinking ship? Roman must have noticed.
7. His eye is off the ball. Why has Mourinho spent time doing adverts for watches? Isn’t £13.5m a year to manage a football team enough?
8. Past transgressions are catching up with him, such as being beastly to that nice Swedish ref, Anders Frisk, who later got death threats and gave up football, or being horrible to that nice woman doctor at Chelsea, or criticising the ambulance men at Reading for being slow when the goalkeeper Cech was injured. He got away with them by winning yet another pot and his bosses cravenly turned a blind eye. But now God is on his case.
9. José believes. We half laughed, half cringed at the things he said, the conspiracies that he imagined, the blameless enemies he identified, the potty theories on why the refs were against him. Surely, being so frightfully clever, he was being partly satirical, to give the hacks more copy? Or was it a tactic to deflect attention from his underperforming players? Was he doing what Fergie did? Nope. It seems that it was the truth, as he saw it. He has to stop blindly believing in himself and realise that he is fallible. Bring on the shrinks, quick.
10. It always ends in tears. Despite his many marvellous achievements, it was only at Porto that his going was widely mourned. Elsewhere, Mourinho has managed to antagonise.
11. He is only ever passing through. He has shown little interest in bringing in young players from the Chelsea academy, or in Chelsea’s future. Just in the here and now. And himself.
12. So is that it? Look at those eyes, the bags beneath them. He must now fear so. But it’s hard for Abramovich to sack him now, when possible replacements turn him down, such as Guardiola.
13. Will he go of his own accord? If he survives this week, the considered opinion of the committee is that, on Christmas Day, as a last self-regarding gesture, as a present to an ungrateful nation, he will say, “That’s it, I’m off.” Then he will arise from the centre spot at Wembley in a hot-air balloon, clutching his collection of watches, and will disappear into space. Which will be a damn shame . . .
This article appears in the 04 Nov 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The end of Europe