You can’t take anything away from Everton — they personified the word “tenacious” in every area. They made us look little more than an average Premier League team. Us looking little more than an average team is becoming a bit of a habit.
There seems to be many things “off” at the moment, most noticeably Mourinho. He is unrecognisable from the man who returned to the club still mourning his departure. Then, he christened himself “the Happy One”. He’s hardly been that has he?
I would imagine his father being seriously ill has taken its toll, as it would on anyone. How would we fare in such circumstances, while trying to do a high-pressure job in the glare of the world media?
I think we sometimes forget that these people who adorn the back pages, who we see on TV, who we talk about in pubs, who are the subject of countless radio talk shows etc are human beings.
And with an influential figure like Mourinho not being right, the team will never be right either. John Terry, noticeably, isn’t talking and organising on the pitch like we and the team are used to.
This isn’t helped by an experimental partnership with Zouma. Cahill may not be the best but he and Terry had developed an understanding, something glaringly absent against Everton. Many bemoaned the lack of Baba Rahman at the weekend. But given the changes Mourinho had already made, I’d have been very surprised to see our new left-back take to the field too.
Ivanovic, as we know, is playing badly, Zouma too hardly covered himself in glory, Azpilicuetahas his limitations playing left-back. And with Terry lacking in his usual organisational skills, it’s no wonder we are leaking goals. Even having two brick walls in the shape of (a much improved) Matic and Mikel did nothing to stem the flow.
But equally as worrying is our lack of goals. Last season, Hazard took on Lampard’s mantle by weighing in with a fair few goals from midfield. Not only has he stopped doing so, he is actually providing next to nothing for those up front.
When those up front do get the ball, they seem loath to actually take a shot — confidence seems non-existent at the moment.
There is a malaise that seems to be hanging around the team and for me this isn’t one to be shouldered by the manager. Personally, I think the team are letting him down. We can spend all night debating whether it is the manager’s job to motivate the players or whether that is something inherent in the individuals and of course the answer is that it’s down to both parties. But we know what these players are capable of and anyone who watches them regularly can tell you that there are only a few who can truly look in the mirror with no self-recriminations.
But then I guess the only person whose opinions really count are Roman Abramovich’s and of course we will only know what those opinions are by any actions.
Given the bridges that had to be rebuilt following the last parting, I’m hoping the owner is being a little more patient and is looking at last season’s achievement. The other thing that needs to be considered is whether we take the painful and radical step of completely clearing what remains of the old guard and start afresh. Put this season firmly down to transition, scary as it may seem.
Of course one would rather do this in a structured, gradual way, but perhaps a clean break is for the best, for the future of the team.
Would we, could we, accept a season, possibly two, in the wilderness? Would Roman?
Either way, the next couple of weeks just presents more potential banana skins. We face an Arsenal team who seem to have found their stride early in the season, a trip up to St James’ where Mourinho has never won, the opening game of Roman’s favourite competition, the Champions League and a League Cup encounter in which defeat would make huge headlines.
A few fickle fans are already plaguing social media with their whinges.
As Jose pointed out, they have short memories. It’s exactly at times like this when the fans need to come into their own and do whatever they can to raise the team. Play their part by backing the team and the manager.
That’s what I’m going to do. After all, I’ve seen much worse than this and Jose deserves our loyalty as he took us to the promised land three times.
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