How Jose ‘the contemptuous one’ Mourinho lost touch with reality
Accusing his players of betrayal and ridiculing their champion qualities signed his exit warrant
Judas, Guy Fawkes, Marcus Brutus, Tokyo Rose, Lord Haw-Haw, Edward Snowden, Macbeth – all are synonymous with great acts of betrayal.
Add to the illustrious lists of back-stabbing legends the players who make up reigning English Premier League champions Chelsea: Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Oscar, Willian, et al.
At least that’s how Jose Mourinho would have us see it following his second dismissal from Stamford Bridge.
Though his sacking should not have come as a surprise given Chelsea’s abysmal start to the season – the club’s worst since 1978 – losing nine of 16 games to leave the title-holders just one point off the relegation zone, it still stupefied.
Mourinho had spent the week accusing his stable of tail-spinning champions of treachery, using the word “betrayal” in interviews, including after the Monday night 2-1 defeat to bargain bucket table toppers Leicester City.
He said his players failed to follow his meticulous tactical planning, claimed that as well as being disloyal, the same players who ran away with the title last season were, actually, not that good.
They lacked humility, he said – and had only reached such miraculous summits because it was he, the Messianic One, who led them by the hand with his brilliance.
“All last season I did phenomenal work and brought them to a level more than they really are,” he said after the defeat at Leicester. They had “betrayed his work” and he “felt let down”.
Mourinho continued his treasonous theme during an extraordinary interview on Chelsea TV, accusing his players of sloppy attitudes, of lacking passion, of wasting their careers and indulging too much in their five-star lifestyle away from the pitch.
You criticise pampered, overly sensitive, egotistical footballers (with too much sponsorship earning power to weld) at your peril; they can be quicker than any apostle or Roman courtier or spook to revolt and defect to save their own skin.
Few can blame a manager for criticising office underachievers for missing targets. In any other entity, such a scolding to galvanise a positive response would be seen as proactive management. Not in football.
Of course, no one can deny Mourinho has an overinflated ego and enjoys the sound of his own voice, and therein lies the problem.
His inability to shut up (more so this season as he morphed from serial winner into obsessive whinger) and instead let his record of success do the talking, proved to be his undoing.
Blaming his stars in front of their peers and the media led to splits and cliques in the camp. Players feared they might be culled during the January transfer window, others resented his sleights, and out came the knives.
They whispered upstairs to the suits, who had been smarting over the team’s rapid unravelling, as well as questioning Mourinho’s descent into madness and TV outbursts.
His bust-up with former club doctor Eva Carneiro on opening day was the start of his woes. Then followed the 3-0 defeat at Manchester City - a “completely fake” result, according to Mourinho. Hardly. His team were frequently outplayed by the likes of Crystal Palace and more recently Bournemouth and Leicester.
Many could forgive the odd loss and a dip in form, but piled high on top of the poor results were the rants at refs and pundits, the red cards, FA fines, blaming ball boys, paranoia over dressing room leaks of game plans, the endless snide remarks, rudeness and aloofness.
Success is supposed to breed success, not arrogance. Mourinho saw himself as so perfect, so righteous, that poor form must therefore be the fault of others.
Even so, his departure says much about football management: winning the EPL counts for nothing, and loyalty defunct.
Besides, ruthless Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will argue with supporters that his revolving door policy actually works.
On the positive side, Chelsea remain in the Champions League and FA Cup.
The smart money is on another interim manager being drafted into salvage the season – Guus Hiddink is the bookies’ favourite – and to hold the fort while the enticement of Pep Guardiola begins in earnest.
Maybe his latest sacking will be a cathartic experience for Mourinho, and teach him to keep his counsel, prevent the back stabbing, and so that never again he’ll have cause to utter: “Et tu, ballboy?”