Chelsea 1 Southampton 3: John Terry offered his backing to Jose Mourinho after Chelsea’s season took a significant turn for the worse on Saturday.
The centre-back and captain has found himself a victim of his club’s dismal start to the campaign, sitting out four of the last six games while Mourinho’s side have attempted to play themselves into form.
Restored to face Southampton, the former England defender had as uncomfortable an afternoon as any of his team-mates as he tried to handle the pace of Sadio Mane and the strength of Graziano Pelle.
It didn‘t go well — not for Terry, nor any of his colleagues — as Chelsea’s formidable reputation at Stamford Bridge was further undermined, leaving the reigning champions hovering above the relegation places in 16th place after their worst start to a season in decades.
Already Mourinho has been forced to issue a declaration that he will not be going anywhere, unthinkable when the manager led his players in their title celebrations just five months ago.
But Terry remains adamant the Portuguese is the right man to steer Chelsea back into calmer waters and offered a ringing endorsement of the manager.
“We have a big group of players and we have the best manager who we remain behind and we remain together,” he said. “That is what you do in tough circumstances. I have been here a long time and I have seen managers come and go and if anyone is going to get us out of this hole it is going to be Jose Mourinho. And the players will remain together and fight, and keep fighting for the supporters because they were excellent on Saturday.”
In Terry’s view, Chelsea’s problems come down to a lack of belief. “Generally I think we are looking low on confidence but we have a big group of players in that dressing room and we need to stand up, which we will do,” he added.
“There is no difference from last season. We need to be hungry like we were. Like many teams find, it is difficult to come back after winning the Premier League. We have seen it with Man City.
“We are suffering a bit of late but we have big characters in the dressing room and we will remain together along with the manager and get ourselves out of this.
“We must win at home to Aston Villa after the international break, which is maybe a good opportunity for players to go away and clear their heads and come back after that and really kick on, because we need to start winning football matches.”
Certainly Chelsea looked in trouble from the moment Southampton finally found their feet after initially trailing to Willian’s 10th-minute free-kick. An equaliser had seemed inevitable for some time before Steven Davis’ 42nd-minute effort and after the break, the visitors always looked the most likely to secure victory with second-half goals from Mane and Pelle finishing the job.
The final whistle drew jeers from the home crowd yet while Mourinho insisted this was the worst moment of his career, he still managed to draw positives from the way he is handling the current crisis. “It makes me understand how big a guy I am,” said the manager. “I am not afraid. I’m not crying, I’m not desperate. I want the next match and I am happy it is at Stamford Bridge in front of our own fans.
“It makes me realise how big I am. Because when you win titles and you are a champion and life is easy, it’s easy to be proud. In this moment it’s not so easy but I am so happy with myself and the way I am facing this.”
While the focus remained on Chelsea, this was undeniably Southampton’s – and in particular Sadio Mane’s – day. “Maybe we lose Mane one day, then we have to be prepared,” said Saints manager Ronald Koeman. “Okay, you know in our situation that kind of player — if they play like today there will come a lot of interest at end of season. But now we enjoy watching Mane in our team.”
Begovic 6; Ivanovic 3, Cahill 4, Terry 4, Azpilicueta 6; Ramires 6 (Matic 46 5, Remy 73 6) , Fabregas 4; Willian 7 (Pedro 64 6), Oscar 6, Hazard 4; Falcao 4.
Subs not used:
Blackman, Zouma, Rahman, Loftus-Cheek.
Stekelenburg 5; Soares 6, Fonte 7, Van Dijk 7, Bertrand 7; Wanyama 8, Romeu 6 (Ward-Prowse 46 7); S Davis 7, Mane 9 (Yoshida 90 6), Tadic 7 (Rodriguez 78 6); Pelle 8.
Subs not used:
K Davis, Long, Martina, Juanmi.
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