HOME AND AWAY PETER SIMPSON
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Chelsea boss 'Special One' Jose Mourinho still has plenty to prove as week six of the Premier League kicks off

Mercurial Portuguese manager must show he is not only a 'two-season wonder' if he wants to be considered one of the greats of the 'beautiful game'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 11:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 11:16pm

There is nothing like a trip to the barber and a good scalping to prepare you for a sparring session with your detractors.

Embattled Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho sported a new hair-do fit for a cage-fighting tournament in a Siberian prison when he appeared to give reasons for Chelsea's worse start to a season in 29 years.

Had the barber used some new-to-market victimhood gel to make the "Special One" especially spikey, we wondered, as he took his seat bristling with indignation.

When asked if he was suffering so-called "third-season syndrome" - preventing him from sustaining momentum after early success at any of the prestigious clubs he has managed - he bared his teeth, gnashed and snapped at the air like an old silver wolf rudely awoken by an annoying fly.

The question was "stupid", he snorted. He then barked at the media to Google for the answer, adding he had "nothing to show [read: prove] to anyone".

The scolded media shuffled awkwardly in their seats.

No one does cold calculations like Mourinho and Turkish shavers wishing to add an extra edge to their razors would do well to study how the Portuguese sharpens his tongue.

When asked if he was suffering so-called "third-season syndrome" ... he bared his teeth, gnashed and snapped at the air like an old silver wolf rudely awoken by an annoying fly

 

 

 

He proceeded, smugly, to list his achievements at Porto, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and those during his first tour at Chelsea.

Yet despite all the accomplishments and belligerence, he knows he has plenty more to prove in his third term - especially to his Russian paymaster.

To take his seat among the greats, he knows he must lose the "two-season wonder" badge and build a dynasty and long-term success at one club, otherwise what makes him so special?

The Blues did return to winning ways midweek with a pushover at Stamford Bridge of Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League, and Mourinho applauded a chorus of "Stand Up for the Special One" from the terraces, though the moniker did not sound as convincing as it did three months ago.

Chelsea supporters know the pressure is getting to their manager, as demonstrated by the absence of any grace in his retorts to those who dared question him.

This uncharacteristically thin skin will ultimately affect the team's morale and performance, if it has not already done so.

Many claim Chelsea have already blown their chances of retaining their crown, losing three and drawing one of their five opening games, and there is much rumour of dressing-room friction between the manager and skipper John Terry, the club loyalist who wields great power.

Terry has had a poor start, having been sent off against West Bromwich Albion and substituted at half-time against Manchester City.

Former Liverpool star turned pundit Steven Gerrard believed his relationship with Mourinho would have deteriorated further after Terry was left on the bench for the Champions League clash.

Quite what has happened since Chelsea were crowned champions in May remains a mystery.

But leaving your influential captain and dressing-room talisman off the starting team sheet with increasing regularity does not bode well.

And with so many problems appearing simultaneously - poor performances and so many key players dropped from the starting 11 (Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic joined Terry on the bench midweek) - something is clearly afoot.

Spookily for some, today marks the eighth anniversary of Mourinho's sacking the first time round at Chelsea.

In September 2007, he went into his final game as Chelsea manager against Rosenborg in the Champions League, having won just one of the four previous league games.

Uncanny indeed if not outright ominous.

The Blues take on Arsenal, a club where Arsene Wenger and his players are also under immense pressure.

Such a meeting is always one of significance for both clubs, but more so for Chelsea and Mourinho.

Failure to win this game will see the symptoms of "third-season failure" become truly acute.

It promises to be a watershed moment. For us neutrals, it is an opportunity to do what Mourinho cannot for several reasons - let our hair down and enjoy an epic battle.