Sulking Jose Mourinho now a fireball of negative energy at Chelsea

The words hung uncomfortably in the west London air during an eerie Halloween moment at Stamford Bridge; and even the big boys in the Matthew Harding Stand twitched a little awkwardly at the poignancy of it: “You’re not special any more”.
Sulking Jose Mourinho now a fireball of negative energy at Chelsea

Liverpool fans have a habit of hitting the mark — and the chant that boomed around a depressed Bridge on Saturday, just as everything had gone deathly quiet, certainly achieved that aim.

It was a game that was always going to be billed as the Special One v the Normal One and by every possible measuring tool, Jurgen Klopp had come out on top.

But what was most alarming for Jose Mourinho was that afternoons like this are becoming ‘normal’ for Chelsea in a season that continues to disintegrate around him. The differences in body language between the two men was fascinating; one energised by a new job, the other - if we’re to believe one or two of the Sunday papers - facing the sack for the second time and seemingly driven to distraction by his inability to handle the crisis.

Whether Jose does depart remains to be seen. Common sense tells you that a man described by just about everybody as the best manager in the world deserves rather more time to find a solution; but common sense has not always been the backbone of Roman Abramovich’s decision-making model.

If it was, then Carlo Ancelotti would never have gone a year after winning the Double – and Rafa Benitez would never have become the most unlikely Chelsea interim manager in history 18 months later.

Back on the touchline, Mourinho’s behaviour told a fascinating story about his current state of mind. Watching the Special One and the Normal One just yards apart was at times more interesting than the match itself; it was the ying and yang of football management.

Klopp a bundle of positive energy, could barely stand still; he looked like a man with a million things to say who had only 90 minutes to get them all out. Every second of the match was spent gesturing, encouraging, berating. But every action was delivered to try and impact the performance of his team, to try and win.

To his left, the sulking, scowling Mourinho was an equal fireball of negative energy. His bursts of action came only in anger or frustration, incandescent with rage when referee Mark Clattenburg failed to show a second yellow card to Lucas Leiva, fuming at every hairline decision.

He clearly believes, and genuinely, the world is against him; but what he hasn’t yet come to terms with is that his negative outlook is no longer galvanising his players but strangling them. Yes, referee Clattenburg probably should have sent Lucas off – but Mourinho’s assertion that the official’s decision made it ‘impossible’ for his team to win the game is as ludicrous as it is self-fulfilling.

Such negativity is reflected in the Chelsea team – Diego Costa looked disinterested against Liverpool while Eden Hazard was anonymous – and also in the side’s tactics. The way Chelsea backed off despite taking an early lead, allowing Liverpool 64% possession in the first half, was the catalyst for a comeback that was later strengthened by Klopp’s positive substitutions.

So the big question at Chelsea right now should not be whether to sack Jose Mourinho, but how to help him. Who at Stamford Bridge can take him aside, calm him down, provide him with positive advice, put things in perspective? Karren Brady, the West Ham vice-chairman, made an interesting point last week after revealing Mourinho chose to stand on his own in the stands at Upton Park when sent off last week, rather than in a seat provided for him next to Chelsea executives.

“I wish he was on close terms with his chief executive, as this should be a person he trusts to watch his back and, when necessary, talk some sense into him,” she said.

“He has a chairman who makes the decisions but he has hardly any relationship with him as football is just a sideline and not the focus of his life.”

Brady certainly knows how to deliver a line that goes straight to the heart of the matter. But at the core of her argument is that sometimes even ‘special ones’ need reeling back into the family and to be reminded they are not alone. Perhaps if he viewed 90 minutes of footage of his touchline antics rather than of the match against Liverpool, Mourinho would come to a similar conclusion and realise he is currently spiralling out of control. It may be time for the Special One to be a little more ‘normal’ – before it’s too late.

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