Chelsea start life post-Mourinho with 3-1 win against Sunderland
The Chelsea players put in the performance of a lifetime in one final act of betrayal to former manager Jose Mourinho, who was mercilessly sacked just 48 hours before kick-off.
The Blues’ players, who had suffered nine defeats in 16 Premier League matches, left their former manager to rot and, under the stewardship of Steve Holland in the very short-term, played with the hunger and passion they deliberately forgot about for Mourinho.
This act of betrayal did not go unnoticed inside a hostile Stamford Bridge atmosphere, with the Chelsea fans very much siding with the only man in the current set-up to truly bleed blue blood, and with every goal and substitution came raucous chants of “Jose Mourinho”.
In the end, whilst it would be difficult to justify sacking Mourinho on one showing, Roman Abramovich will at least be pleased to see his side back to winning ways, though once again it is short-termism over longevity.
With Thursday’s firing of Mourinho, Steve Holland and Eddie Newton were drafted in as one-game wonders, and with Guus Hiddink appointed until the end of the season, Chelsea may as well announce they have sacked the next manager already.
But it is a penny for Mourinho’s thoughts, in Brighton to watch his friend Karanka and his Middlesbrough side take on Brighton, to see his former side switch on so instantly to score two goals in the opening 13 minutes.
There could not be a better showing of betrayal. The players, unfit to wear the shirt of even a League 2 side for many weeks had suddenly turned into world-beaters, with Oscar confidently trying rabonas and Costa showing some sort of effort.
It was another much-maligned individual who got the game’s first goal inside five minutes. Willian, who can escape criticism for not trying, swung in a corner and Ivanovic leapt like never before to head a quite superb goal into the top corner. It was his first goal of the season; if only he had such determination under his previous boss.
And what for Chelsea’s creative talents? Well, Pedro was next on the scoresheet, with Ivanovic’s cross finding Pedro to rifle home around the penalty area. It was his first goal at Stamford Bridge; if only he had such determination under his previous boss.
It was a turning into a case of how many. Matic all of a sudden became a footballer and his reverse pass nearly paid off for Willian.
Oscar should have scored when given acres of space but Pantilimon’s legs denied him a certain goal which his performance deserved.
He would get the opportunity early in the second half though. Pedro’s ball to Willian was good, as was the Brazilian’s control, but Pantilimon clattered the winger and the penalty, Chelsea’s first of the season, was awarded. All Mourinho’s complaints were being answered, but he was not here to see it. Oscar calmly tapped the ball into the net, again with more chants of Mourinho’s name.
There was no getting away from Chelsea’s defensive frailities, however, with Borini pulling a goal back moments later. Johnson’s free-kick found Kaboul who found Borini to bundle home.
Nerves crept into Steve Holland’s thinking and Mikel and Remy were the introductions. Damningly, it was two suspected “bad apples” who had to depart: Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. The former went off to boos and Costa, who continued to be his usual self all match and a fraction off every ball, stormed down the tunnel to heart-felt chants of Mourinho’s name.
Chelsea saw the game out and we will see the return of Hiddink on Boxing Day, but the suggestion Hiddink’s a better manager to ressurect Chelsea’s season than Mourinho is as laughable as it gets.
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Man of the Match
OSCAR: Chelsea’s best player of the game but there is an overwhelming sense of lack of effort under Mourinho. Oscar tried everything today and made himself look like Zico, with cute dribbles and rabona passes, and of course the goal. How frustrating it would be for Mourinho, who so often gave the Brazilian the freedom in the No.10 role, but rarely grasped the opportunity with both hands like today. 7/10
Steve Holland was sad to see Mourinho depart, but was happy with the result: “[In] my role as a club man, you get close to the people you work with, and it’s sad when that changes, but we had an important game two days after and I had a responsibility to the fans and the club. I am happy with the result but it is raw. I feel the way I feel. In the end I thought they saw the game out fairly comfortably.”
Allardyce understood how hard it was come back when you concede two early goals: “We looked frightened of going out to play. When we gave them the first goal early it lifted the whole stadium. Right from the start we made life very difficult for ourselves. I was happy to get in at half-time just 2-0 down.”