Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Jose Mourinho latest: Chelsea view on manager's position unchanged despite defeat to Stoke

Chelsea slipped to their seventh defeat in 12 Premier League games on Saturday

Simon Hart
Sunday 08 November 2015 18:49 GMT
Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho (GETTY IMAGES)

When Chelsea last started a top-flight season in the same dismal manner as this one, back in 1978-79, their manager, Ken Shellito, paid the price with his dismissal and replacement by Danny Blanchflower in December.

Whether Jose Mourinho lasts until then is a question that may well persist throughout the international break after Saturday’s events at Stoke City. Amid the swirl of rumours about potential replacements, the focus has switched from Mourinho’s absence from the Britannia Stadium bench – as he served his one-match stadium ban – to the chances of him being present at Stamford Bridge when the champions’ car-crash campaign resumes against Norwich City on Saturday week.

Admittedly, second-guessing the whims of Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich, is as straightforward as a game of Russian roulette, but the message from club sources on Saturday was that this latest setback, courtesy of a Marko Arnautovic goal, had changed nothing. And while the pressure on Mourinho must have intensified, given that this is the first time Chelsea have suffered three straight league losses since Abramovich’s 2003 takeover, there were also positives to be found in defeat.

Chelsea did not play like a team who had given up on their manager. There was plenty of purpose and positive intent, not least from Willian and Eden Hazard, and they could point to their bad luck, too. Pedro struck a post, while Loïc Rémy paid the penalty, ironically, for staying on his feet and trying to score when referee Anthony Taylor would probably have awarded a late spot-kick had the substitute gone to ground as Jack Butland flew out at his feet.

The view of midfielder Nemanja Matic was that Chelsea “deserved more” and he insisted their form was improving. “We showed [it] in the last game in the Champions League [in beating Dynamo Kiev] and at Stoke we played good football but we didn’t have any luck,” he said. “What is going well is that the team is together [and] everyone understands the situation we are in. We are trying to be more together, to work hard and to make the situation better but in this moment we are not having any luck.”

Matic argued that “the table is not realistic”, though the fact is that Chelsea sit 16th, 21 points worse off than at this stage 12 months ago. Only once in the Premier League era has a team recovered from such a start to finish in the top six and whatever the plus points of their display, there were big minuses, too. Full-back Baba Rahman was given the runaround by Xherdan Shaqiri, while Diego Costa, who has just two goals this term, seemed more focused on his running battle with Ryan Shawcross than providing a proper goal threat. At least the Brazilian’s alleged stamp on a steward’s foot proved a storm in the teacup, with no complaint being made.

Mourinho is understood to have given his team talk before the Chelsea players boarded their bus for the Britannia and Matic insisted “we knew what we had to do”, although the Stoke manager, Mark Hughes, believed his Chelsea counterpart’s absence was felt.

“Their bench is probably one of the more animated ones and I wasn’t aware of them today,” said Hughes, who was delighted with his team’s performance and especially the efforts of record signing Shaqiri. “We wanted him on the ball, he demanded the ball and he went up against his opposite defender and showed what we know he is capable of,” he said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in