Jose Mourinho is struggling to maintain control of the Chelsea dressing room and has lost the confidence of several players, who are increasingly unhappy at his handling of the club.
According to a report by the Evening Standard, a significant proportion of the first-team squad have now become unhappy with Mourinho's man-management.
The Portuguese coach has publicly criticised individuals, both in the team and among his backroom staff, during his side's dismal start to the season.
It is believed that one senior player at the club has a derogatory one-word nickname for Mourinho also used in secret by some of his most disaffected team-mates.
Mourinho’s post-match rant on Sky television following the Blues’ defeat to Southampton on October 3 was in part aimed to instigate a public show of support from those above and below him at the club amid ongoing rumours of unrest — he had previously complained about the “rats” leaking information about the turbulence behind the scenes.
The Blues’ hierarchy responded by taking the unusual step of issuing a public vote of confidence after Mourinho raised the possibility — without provocation — that he could be sacked.
Then a handful of journalists were last week invited to Chelsea’s training ground to conduct interviews with players willing to place on record their support of the Portuguese boss.
A number of players including Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas and Kurt Zouma spoke out during the international break in defence of their beleaguered manager.
However, privately the situation is thought to remain decidedly tense. Poor results have exacerbated concerns over Mourinho’s treatment of the squad with certain individuals singled out for substandard performances while others have been retained in the starting line-up despite suffering their own dip in form.
Mourinho’s ability to create a togetherness in teams has been a hallmark of his success but the ruthlessness with which he has treated certain players — and former club doctor Eva Carneiro, who was popular among the squad — has caused considerable unease.
It is understood Nemanja Matic, Cesar Azpilicueta and Oscar are among the players to have been chastised in front of the rest of the group while others left out of the team are said to have been treated with apparent disdain.
The plight of Papy Djilobodji is a particular case in point. Chelsea signed Djilobodji from Nantes for £3million on deadline day after the club failed in their protracted pursuit of Everton’s John Stones.
It is understood that Mourinho cited the need for additional cover at centre-back despite missing out on his primary target but they struggled to find a short-term solution as the window drew to a close.
However, the decision was based on his desire to give fringe players such as Bertrand Traore and Kenedy, who had spent pre-season fighting for a place in the squad, an opportunity in Europe instead.
Djilobodji has played just once for the club — coming on in the 89th minute of September’s Capital One Cup victory at Walsall — and has not even been named in a matchday squad before or since.
Chelsea are instead left to rely on Cahill, Zouma, Branislav Ivanovic — as a makeshift alternative — and John Terry.
Although club captain Terry has started just two of Chelsea’s last seven Premier League and Champions League matches, he is understood to remain supportive of Mourinho.
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