When Jose Mourinho is in a bad mood, everybody at Stamford Bridge gets to hear about it. Wednesday was no different.
Defeat at Sunderland in the Capital One Cup has bruised Chelsea’s manager as he prepares for the Barclays Premier League clash with Arsenal. The Blues are only two points off the top, but you wouldn’t know it.
After Gus Poyet’s team had beaten Chelsea in extra time, Mourinho admitted he didn’t have the solution to this stuttering form. Perhaps the old magic has worn off.
In 2004, when he arrived from Porto as a Champions League-winning manager, Chelsea’s impressive new coach targeted the League Cup as his first trophy. Winning it, as they did when they beat Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium, became an obsession.
It proved to his players that they could cross the finishing line as winners. Three months later they were Premier League champions for the first time.
Chelsea lost six matches all season. This year, including the penalty shoot-out defeat against Bayern Munich (which Mourinho doesn’t count), they have already been beaten seven times.
Second time around, it appears the spark is lacking. There is a view that the players have heard it all before.
Mourinho is immensely popular at the training ground: he often watches the Chelsea Ladies team and he allows them to go over the road to use the physio facilities in the main building.
The charm remains, but the challenge set by Roman Abramovich - to re-establish Chelsea as one of the leading forces in European football - is not an easy one.
Mourinho is unhappy with the squad he inherited and the word is out that Chelsea are looking for a striker in January.
After the 3-1 victory at Norwich on October 6, Mourinho let slip in the coach’s room at Carrow Road that he was frustrated with his three forwards.
Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba have failed to respond to his demands and between them have scored just five league goals. Not good enough.
Chelsea have been scouring the continent, but there is a premium on strikers with Champions League experience.
Hulk has been watched at Zenit St Petersburg in recent weeks, but Chelsea’s record with players signed from Russia has not been good.
Eto’o (Anzhi Makhachkala), Yuri Zhirkov and Jiri Jarosik (CSKA Moscow), Alexi Smertin (who arrived from Bordeaux) and Maniche (Dynamo Moscow) struggled to make an impact.
Diego Costa, who has come to prominence in Atletico Madrid’s emerging team, is another option but he will be expensive.
The winter break in European football’s top leagues raises the question of fitness. The last round of matches in La Liga is this weekend and then Costa and the rest of the players in Spain will be recharging their batteries until January 4.
Back at the Chelsea training ground, Mourinho has outstanding issues with some players.
For one, Eden Hazard is first off the training pitches and first to get away after lunch. There is disbelief that a player with so much ability should choose to lead his professional life this way. He could be one of the best.
Then there is Ashley Cole, who has been deposed as the club’s first-choice left back after a disagreement.
Mourinho insists there are no problems but there is a feeling Cole has had a raw deal. Although Cole started at Sunderland, he has fallen out of favour with Mourinho and it is a long way back from here.
There is similar bewilderment among some players at Mourinho’s failure to recognise the strengths of Juan Mata. The Spaniard is supremely intelligent but Mourinho simply doesn’t fancy him. He has yet to score in the league.
The fact that Mata was twice player of the year and part of the team that won the Champions League final in Munich last year counts for nothing. The equally popular David Luiz has made just six starts this season.
On Thursday morning Chelsea will be back on the training ground as they prepare for Monday’s huge clash with Arsenal at the Emirates. Lose that and Mourinho’s mood really will turn sour. – Daily Mail