Jose Mourinho: how Arsenal and Will Ferrell brought down Chelsea boss
Not one pundit predicted Chelsea would finish outside the top three this season – so where did it all go wrong for the Special One?
Jose Mourinho's downfall must rank as one of the most spectacular falls from grace in football history. Seven months after guiding a dominant Chelsea team to the title, and mocking his Premier League rivals, the Portuguese is out of work and Chelsea are 16th in the Premier League, one point above the relegation zone.
No-one saw this coming. A list of top four predictions from the start of the season, collated by Arsenal blogger Angry of Islington, shows that not a single pundit expected Chelsea to finish lower than third in the league.
The list of 77 predictions shows that 51 national football journalists and pundits tipped Chelsea to win the Premier League this season. The Week predicted that the Chelsea would end the season runners up, but warned that there could be trouble ahead after a "mixed" pre-season. "If they cannot reproduce the sparkling early season form of the last campaign and adopt an attritional approach from the start it might not be plain sailing," we wrote – and so it proved.
With the gift of hindsight it's easy to see how the season unravelled. Here are some of the key moments:
The end of season dinner:
Did Mourinho go too far when he openly mocked his Premier League rivals at the Blues' end of season dinner? There had been allegations that Chelsea adopted a negative approach at the end of the season and Mourinho responded by implying that Manchester United were obsessed with possession but could not score, Manchester City could score but not defend and Arsenal did not have the stamina to win the title. Chelsea, he explained, were different. Pride comes before a fall.
The Arsenal factor:
Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger do not get on, and the Portuguese seemed to have some kind of hoodoo over the Frenchman. Before the start of the season, a Mourinho team had never lost to Wenger and going into the Community Shield his record against Arsenal was: P13 W7 D6 L0. But the Gunners won 1-0 at Wembley as the two men once again declined to shake hands. Like Toto in the Wizard of Oz, had Arsenal finally pulled back the curtain to reveal that perhaps Mourinho was not all that he seemed. Certainly, his first-ever defeat to Arsenal damaged his aura.
The Eva Carneiro affair:
There were signs that all was not well at Chelsea on the very first weekend of the season, when Mourinho was involved in a huge touchline spat with his medical staff during a lacklustre draw with Swansea. The Guardian hinted at simmering tensions behind the scenes, with Mourinho frustrated at ongoing fitness problems within the squad. But his annoyance boiled over in spectacular fashion and club doctor Eva Carneiro eventually left the club, and has now begun legal proceedings against the Blues.
John Terry substituted:
Mourinho had never substituted John Terry during a league match until this season, but he hauled him off during the defeat to Man City in August. Many saw it as a watershed moment, an indication that the manager had lost faith with the cornerstone of his aging Chelsea team. The Blues were humbled in a 3-0 defeat.
Will Ferrell has a pop:
American comedian Will Ferrell found himself on the same bill as Mourinho at the GQ Man of the Year awards in September, and took the chance to troll the Chelsea boss, reported Vice. The event came after Chelsea had been badly beaten by Man City and also Crystal Palace. Accepting the award for comedian of the year Ferrell took the Chelsea boss to task: "Jose Mourinho, Jose Mourinho. Keep playing defence man," he shouted. "Seven guys in the box. I love it. I love it."
The vote of confidence:
The club issued a 'vote of confidence' after Chelsea's fourth league defeat of the season against Southampton in October. It came after Mourinho went on the offensive and said that the club would have to fire him if they were unhappy with his methods. At the time it elicited a rare public show of support from Roman Abramovich.
The FA charges
The Portuguese has often found himself in hot water, but he managed to outdo himself this autumn as he railed against the officials. He was sent off during another defeat against West Ham and hit with a one-match stadium ban, having earlier in the season been fined and handed a suspended ban for comments about referees.
Perhaps the biggest factor in Mourinho's downfall was his relationship with his star players. There appeared to be tension from the very start of the season. The same players that had won the title weeks earlier seemed listless and unhappy. Diego Costa was even more bad-tempered than usual, Cesc Fabregas was a shadow of his former self, and Eden Hazard, player of the season, was unrecognisable and was singled out for criticism in October. By the time they lost to Leicester, Mourinho believed he was being systematically undermined and publicly rounded on his stars.