Chelsea have got their title-defending campaign off to what could be a devastatingly uncharacteristic start, as the reigning champions sit 13th in the league having won just four points in as many games – while Manchester City sit top with an intimidating 12.
Jose Mourinho, the Blues manager, has been in the headlines since his club’s first game against Swansea City following the treatment of his medical staff – who have since been banished from matchday duty – the first in what has been a number of ‘look at poor me’ moments from the Portuguese boss.
His substituting of John Terry at half time in the defeat to City the following week, and his bringing in on of reserve players as Chelsea searched for an equaliser against Crystal Palace on Saturday has only added to the drama.
While the poor form of Branislav Ivanovic, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic – to name but a few who are currently underperforming – are worrying signs for Chelsea supporters that all is not well behind the scenes in west London.
The Blues have been linked with moves for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and Everton centre-back John Stones, but with the close of the transfer window on Tuesday, it is looking increasingly unlikely that Roman Abramovich will spend in excess of £100m to secure the duo in the next few days.
And The Sunday Times’ Jonathan Northcroft and The Daily Telegraph’s Jason Burt believe that Mourinho is acting out in rebellion over the lack of activity in the summer market, and is typically looking to escape criticism by passing the blame onto others.
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Northcroft said, “Yes, he hasn’t got what he wanted. I think he wanted Pogba at the start of the summer, that was one he pushed for. And obviously he wanted Stones.
“The decline of certain players has probably shocked him. People like Fabregas, Matic, Ivanovic in particular, and then somebody like John Terry going over that hill defenders go over. I think he’s been spooked by that.
“It’s typical Mourinho behaviour to show signs of rebellion when things aren’t going his way.”
While Burt stated that, “If he’s not getting what he wants [in the transfer market], history tends to show he does kick off. He’s not got what he wanted and he’s going to start complaining more and more. That’s what he does.
“It happened last time at Chelsea and it’s happened at every club he’s been at. He will not want to be blamed if Chelsea don’t retain the title or don’t have a good run in the Champions League, he’ll start blaming other people.
“It could get increasingly intense and difficult for everyone. We know that when Mourinho doesn’t get what he wants he becomes very fractious.”