After slumping to their 6th defeat in their opening 11 fixtures with a 3-1 loss to Liverpool Saturday, Chelsea's coaching staff met at the center circle of the Stamford Bridge pitch for an impromptu emergency meeting. With their season in disarray and the possibility of a top four finish looking increasingly unlikely,
The crisis has largely been of his own making. His paranoid insistence that there's a league-wide conspiracy against Chelsea was largely viewed in the media as an ingenious means to deflect attention from his players and create an 'us against the world' mentality last season when things were going well. But in a difficult period his bizarre antics do little to bring calm to the club- they provide momentum to a feeling of increasing panic.
Mourinho's behavior and its impact on his squad has been discussed at length in recent weeks. What has been talked about slightly less during Chelsea's tumultuous start to the season are the players that Mourinho has let go since returning to Chelsea in the summer of 2013 who have gone on to enjoy success elsewhere. Chelsea's core of players that won them the league look a shell of themselves this time around and they don't have the depth to really change things up. Mourinho bemoaned the clubs lack of transfer activity over the summer- Pedro was their only really big signing- but he should be criticized for letting some remarkably talented players leave.
After another underwhelming performance yesterday Eden Hazard was replaced in the second half by the talented yet unproven 19 year old Kenedy. Meanwhile Kevin De Bruyne, who Mourinho sold to Wolfsburg in January 2014, has become the second most expensive player in Premier League history after his £54.5m to Manchester City. De Bruyne produced a remarkable 10 goals and 20 assists in the Bundesliga last season and has already contributed 3 goals and 4 assists in just 7 league appearances at City thus far.
Mohamed Salah was signed by Mourinho in January 2014 after he ripped the Blues apart earlier in the season in a Champions League game for Basel. Mourinho never put any faith in the Egyptian winger however and he made just 13 league appearances for the club before being loaned to Fiorentina for the second half of last season. He was subsequently sold to Roma over the summer. Salah scored 6 goals and added 3 assists during his time at Fiorentina and has already scored 5 at Roma this campaign.
Mourinho allowed the Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku to be sold to Everton in the summer of 2014 after he spent the 2013-2014 season on loan there. At the time the £28m pound fee Chelsea received seemed like an intelligent bit of business as Diego Costa enjoyed a fine first season at Stamford Bridge and Lukaku struggled to match his form from the 2013-14 season. However, Lukaku has been brilliant this season having already netted 6 goals and provided 4 assists. It's easy to forget that he's still just 22. Surely he'd offer far more coming off the bench than Loic Remy or Falcao and although he doesn't ave the same tenacity and physicality Mourinho admires in Costa, he is a more polished and technically gifted footballer. His 1 goal and 2 assist performance in Everton's 6-2 win over Sunderland today showed his range of qualities- his outside of the left foot cross for Arouna Kone's third was simply outstanding.
The Blues have also lacked creativity and a midfielder that can provide penetrating through balls as Cesc Fabregas's form has taken a nosedive. Juan Mata is a player with loads of creativity that moves intelligently into pockets of space and can pick out a pass to unlock defenses. He was of course offloaded to Manchester United because of what Mourinho viewed as his defensive frailties. It's difficult to imagine he could possibly be any worse at defending than Fabregas. Mata currently has 3 goals and 3 assists having started every league match for a side that boasts the Premier League's best defensive record- his defensive frailties clearly haven't hurt United too much. Meanwhile only Norwich and Sunderland have conceded more than Chelsea.
Mata, De Bruyne, Lukaku and Salah make 4 ex-Chelsea players that have been sold under Mourinho who this season have combined for 17 league goals and 11 league assists. Mata has 3 goals and 3 assists, Lukaku has 6 goals and 4 assists, De Bruyne has 3 goals and 4 assists and Salah has 5 goals. Chelsea don't have a player with more than 2 goals or 2 assists.
De Bruyne, Salah and Lukaku are all 24 years old or younger. At Chelsea Fabregas is 28, Willian is 27, Pedro is 28, Diego Costa is 27, Nemanja Matic is 27, Falcao is 29 and Loic Remy is 28. While none of these Chelsea players are especially old they are all towards the latter years of being at their physical peak. In selling Salah, De Bruyne and Lukaku at such a young age Mourinho has let go of three players that could potentially have 6 to 7 more seasons at their very best.
Mourinho has relied on proven, experienced stars at every club he's managed since his first spell at Chelsea. While it's impossible to argue with his success accumulating trophies his long term planning is questionable. Perhaps he knows he won't stay at one place long and is therefore focused on achieving success immediately at any cost. But in De Bruyne, Mata, Salah and Lukaku he has sold four players that could be making a big difference at Stamford Bridge right now.