Chelsea’s start-of-season blip has turned into a full-blown crisis as the Blues lost handsomely at home to Southampton.
Despite going ahead inside 10 minutes with Willian’s fourth consecutive direct free-kick, the Blues got progressively worse as Davis, Mane and Pelle completed the comeback at a stunned Stamford Bridge.
It leaves Chelsea, who have lost half of their games so far, in 16th position and with serious concern for Mourinho’s future, with the Portuguese having lost his medical staff, the media, clearly the players — Matic was substituted off 28 minutes after coming on — and maybe not before too long it will Roman Abramovich’s faith he has lost, who was glaring eagle-eyed down from his box.
What followed post-match was an extraordinary seven-minute monologue from Mourinho, who was frank enough to take his share of the responsibility, but laid out a clear message to his seniors: “sack me and you sack the best manager this club has ever had”.
No team has finished higher than 5th after the start Chelsea have had, but with more showings like the one today, Chelsea would be odds-on favourite for relegation. The Blues were toothless in spirit and effort, in ominous signs that nothing is going well at SW6.
After the loss to Porto mid-week, there were calls for John Terry to be re-instated and the calls were met, with Zouma making way. In the opposition were two former Chelsea aces, Bertrand and Romeu, who started for a compact Southampton side.
It did not stop Chelsea taking the lead. A free-kick opportunity presented itself Chelsea’s way and, though slightly further out than in the previous three games, Willian still fancied his efforts, and fancy he might as the ball whipped straight into the top left corner.
Would this settle Chelsea and lead them on? Absolutely not, as the side who lifted the Premier League trophy 132 days ago looked shot of confidence.
Ivanovic should have given away a penalty for pulling down Van Dijk but the referee waved it away.
The chances kept coming when Azpilicueta, who was to have his worst game in a Chelsea shirt, was found wanting down the left and he was fortunate Davis sliced wide in acres of space.
Oscar tried his luck from a central position, whilst Hazard turned his man well but the pull back was poor.
Falcao was proving to be no Diego Costa, with the midfield going long to find him hoping he would peel away from his man, but the Colombian kept misinterpreting and wanted the ball played to feet.
Ramires should have given away another penalty to give Southampton the opportunity to equalise before the half-time whistle blew, but they did equalise through Davis, who half-volleyed Pelle’s chested-down ball past Begovic.
Matic came on for Ramires at half-time but Southampton had three huge opportunities back-to-back. Tadic played the ball through to Mane but was rescued by Begovic, Matic should have cleared but lost it in a stupid position and Cahill rescued, before another try saw the ball deflect off Terry’s back.
Then came the moment Mourinho screamed at in his post-match press conference: a Falcao dive. Robert Madeley, who was refereeing his first Chelsea match, adjudged Falcao to have dived, when Stekelenburg quite clearly made contact.
It would change the game. Mane was totally through to put Southampton in front on the hour mark, whilst Pelle made sure in the 72nd minute when Azpilicueta’s lazy pass saw Southampton race on into his vacated space.
But in truth, Chelsea did not have a single shot on target in the second half. Tadic should have made it four but dallied as he tried to be selfish, but Chelsea were out of ideas and without a plan.
Mourinho came out fighting post-match but it may already be too late.
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Man of the Match
THE FANS: Who fights for his club? Begovic has been Chelsea’s star man of late by virtue of everyone else being shocking, but he is hardly a Cech. Azpi was shocking. JT and Ivanovic are too old. Cahill not good enough. Matic hesitant. Fabregas useless. Hazard is playing like he is not worth £7 million let alone the £70 million Mourinho was suggesting a few months ago. Falcao is more concerned with his hair. From top-to-toe, this is an awful Chelsea period. 0/10
Mourinho’s monologue was deep and ominous, starting with referee-pointing: “If the FA wants to punish me they can, they don’t punish other managers: referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea. My team, at the moment, the first negative thing that happens, they collapse. The penalty was a giant penalty and after that the team lost even more confidence.”
Then came a warning to his bosses: “If the club wants to sack me they have to sack me because I am not running away. It is a crucial moment in the history of this club because if they sack me they sack the best manager this club has ever had. The message is that the results are the fault of the manager. This is a moment for everybody to assume their responsibilities and stick together. My team are in such a low moment. Sadness brings sadness. Bad results attracts bad results.”
Koeman’s words were overshadowed: “We had a difficult start to the game, but we came back and we made it 1-1 with a great goal. The difference was how we came out of the dressing room, pressed Chelsea and had fantastic movement.”