Chelsea crisis: why decision to sell Cech could save Mourinho
Another FA charge for the Blues' under pressure boss, but could an inexperienced squad survive without him?
Things are going from bad to worse for under-fire Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho after he was charged with misconduct by the Football Association following the altercation with referee Jon Moss that led to his sending off against West Ham on Saturday.
There is even a chance, according to Matt Law in the Daily Telegraph, that he could be banned from the touchline for the make-or-break clash with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge next weekend, which some believe could determine his future. However, the paper says it is likely that the case will spill into next week.
Law also raises the intriguing possibility that Mourinho may be saved by the sudden absence of natural dressing room leaders at Stamford Bridge, the kind of player who could keep the ship afloat if he were to leave.
Previously the trigger-happy Chelsea hierarchy was confident "that characters such as captain John Terry, Petr Cech, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba could manage themselves out of a crisis in the middle of managerial change".
Most of them are now gone, with Cech and Drogba the latest to leave last summer, and with fears over the temperament of players like Eden Hazard it is feared the Blues "no longer have the strength within the squad to hit the autopilot button under a caretaker".
Despite that, Mourinho's situation remains critical. The latest reports suggest the Portuguese swore at Moss during half time of the game, calling him "f***ing weak", and then refusing to leave the referee's room until being shown the red card.
And the FA could come down hard. "If precedent is anything to go by, Mourinho could be in hot water," says The Times. "Paul Ince was given a five-game stadium ban while at Blackpool for verbally abusing and threatening match officials in September 2013 and Billy Davies was given a five-match touchline ban for using abusive language towards a referee while Nottingham Forest manager in 2014."
In addition to the charge against Mourinho, who already has a suspended stadium ban hanging over him from an earlier incident, Chelsea face sanction for accruing seven yellow cards during the bad tempered match against West Ham. Mourinho's assistant Silvino Louro has also been charged with misconduct and the club will have to explain why Mourinho failed to fulfill his media commitments after the game.
To make matters worse, former referee Keith Hackett has accused Mourinho and Chelsea of "tarnishing" the Premier League.
Writing for website You Are the Referee, Hackett said being asked to officiate a Chelsea game was a "poisoned chalice" as they are "not the easiest team to control".
He even called for an "urgent summit meeting" between Mourinho, the club, the Premier League and the body representing referees. "The public spats involving the manager of Chelsea need to be dealt with immediately in a face-to-face meeting," he said.
But with the pressure mounting on Mourinho, will Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich act?
Jason Burt of the Telegraph hopes not. "It would be a deep shame if Mourinho is sacked," he writes. "Not least because what is so fascinating to see is whether the best manager of his generation can turn this – and turn himself – around."