Chelsea lose, and Mourinho should be worried
Mourinho looks like a dead man walking
(Andre Andre 39, Maicon 52)
The incriminating evidence revealed itself on Jose Mourinho's forehead.
He was sweating.
Perhaps it was the camera lights. Perhaps the heating in the press conference room was too high.
Or maybe, just maybe, the beads of perspiration betrayed the man's exasperation. He faces too many problems he can no longer solve.
Either way, Mourinho doesn't usually sweat in interviews. He's the coolest of cucumbers. Yesterday morning (Singapore time), he looked like a cabbage at the Estadio do Dragao.
Like his Chelsea side, the manager bears no resemblance to his old cocky self.
He said the Blues were unlucky to lose 2-1 at Porto, but the opposite is true. Mourinho is extraordinarily lucky. He's lucky to still have a job.
Roberto di Matteo tinkered in the Champions League, lost against Juventus and was sacked. Andre Villas-Boas experimented in the Champions League, lost to Napoli and was sacked.
Mourinho is spared by reputation and resume, but only for now. In football management, class can be temporary. Only form is permanent.
Unless Chelsea find some against Southampton on Sunday, Mourinho's CV will suddenly read like ancient history.
Against Porto, he made nothing but mistakes. And his hopeless, miscast performers reciprocated with a no-show. The Premier League champions succumbed to stage fright, which was not entirely their fault.
Their manager sent out the wrong cast with the wrong script for the wrong audience.
Mourinho kept his promise of dropping his hapless heavyweights, but left his lightweight on the pitch.
Branislav Ivanovic has come to symbolise Chelsea's dramatic decline. He's a proud competitor suddenly overcome by age. Younger, hungrier opponents are passing him by, leaving behind a confused, befuddled household name.
Ivanovic is Chelsea in microcosm.
Yacine Brahimi's treatment of Chelsea's right back bordered on animal cruelty, mercilessly torturing a wounded animal. The Algerian World Cup star trotted past Ivanovic in the build-up for the first goal and repeated the trick on three other occasions.
Brahimi was ably supported along the left by Giannelli Imbula, a rising star Chelsea had tried to sign in pre-season. The 23-year-old conducted proceedings, humiliating Mourinho with every elegant wave of his baton.
Mourinho usually signs men like Imbula, if nothing else to stop them from ridiculing him in his old Porto backyard.
But he left his usual game-changers either on the bench or at home. Oscar, Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy didn't make the substitutes' list. Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic didn't make it onto the pitch until the final half an hour.
With Chelsea chasing the game, Mourinho had no recognisable goal threat to call upon other than 19-year-old raw recruit Kenedy. He wanted to send a message to his under-performing superstars, but this read like a suicide note.
Mourinho's winning mentality was forged at Porto, a place where he instructed players to take every inch; to provoke, goad and manipulate to gain the smallest advantage, to anticipate every possible permutation and calculate a reaction; to win, to always win.
It's hard to reconcile those indomitable ideals with yesterday's grim reality.
Mourinho picked a squad with no back-up strikers, dropped his most creative player in Hazard, but elevated his most error-prone performer. Ivanovic was rewarded for his ongoing crisis of confidence with the captaincy.
John Terry continues to warm the bench, presumably for his lack of speed, but Porto's winner came from a routine set-piece. Maicon flicked in Ruben Neves' corner, nodding the ball past an unguarded near post.
Pace isn't the overriding problem. The absence of leadership and organisation are the twin terrors that continue to expose Chelsea's defensive flaws.
And still Terry never left the bench, looking on as the clucking Ivanovic led his headless chickens on a merry dance around the box.
Mourinho upheld his bold promise to drop big names, but he dropped the wrong names, which seriously undermined his judgment.
Matic hasn't fared particularly well of late, but he might have pulled up the drawbridge to halt the relentless charge of Brahimi, Imbula and Andre Andre.
Instead, Chelsea were overrun at the back and anonymous up front, again suggesting that Pedro Rodriguez and Cesc Fabregas were more deserving recipients of the axe.
And if Falcao was deemed surplus to requirements in a line-up desperately short of firepower, then Mourinho really has signed this season's Mario Balotelli - a stylish salary with no playing substance.
The beleaguered Chelsea boss got nothing right; his selections, omissions and tactical choices confounded as much as they confused. They were hard to fathom and impossible to justify.
Now, Sunday's game against Southampton becomes critical.
If Chelsea's sins are repeated against the Saints, Mourinho might have to plead his case to a higher power.
And Roman Abramovich is not known for his forgiveness.
John Terry's continuing absence is a mystery as Chelsea struggle.
The once "untouchable" defender signed a new one-year contract in May, but he has been on the sidelines as his beloved club stuttered to one of their worst starts in years.
After playing for every minute of the 38 Premier League games last season, it was the fourth time in five matches that the club captain has been left sitting among the substitutes against Porto.
For the big games, England international Gary Cahill has been partnered in central defence with the 20 year-old Frenchman Kurt Zouma, but neither impressed in the two most recent matches against struggling Newcastle and Porto as Chelsea conceded two goals each time.
With right back Branislav Ivanovic given the captain's armband and looking completely out of sorts, critics are wondering how long it can be before the Terry is recalled.
"What must John Terry think as he watches from the substitutes' bench while Ivanovic seemingly survives error after error, match after match?" asked the Daily Telegraph yesterday.
"Can they be much worse with Terry at the back? He would bring leadership and organisation at least," the Daily Mail wrote of Terry's continued absence.
At 34, it is generally accepted that Terry may have lost a little pace, but many observers believe his vast experience would compensate.
Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand, though he has had his differences with Terry in the past, spoke on Sky Sports of Chelsea "lacking leaders".
Steve McManaman, once of Liverpool and Real Madrid, who was also covering the game, described him as "the ultimate professional" and said there will be games when he is called upon again. - Reuters.
Mourinho, refusing to blame his his players:
"I don't think my players deserve me to be critical of them, apart from the two mistakes that are difficult to accept.
"I'm not going to point the finger to one or to another. Good feelings, happiness, self-esteem - players need these to play.
"When everything goes against, it's difficult to have that feeling. So let's try. Let's try against Southampton (on Sunday)."
On his side's ridiculous errors:
"Sometimes you make that kind of mistake and you are not punished. We were punished.
"The second goal for us is a ridiculous mistake. We watch dozens of repetitions of Porto taking corners.
"We were completely ready for that and in a moment when the game is completely under control and we were preparing a change, to concede that goal is ridiculous."
On his players' reaction:
"To concede the second goal was like (there was) ice in the players, but they react and they react in a positive way.
"Diego (Costa) hit the post, (Branislav) Ivanovic had a chance with an open goal, one metre from the goal, and the last-minute situation, a clear penalty.
"The two mistakes cost us the game, a game that was fantastic."
On his team selection:
"When the team are not playing and winning matches on a regular basis, it's normal that you have to make changes.
"When you play a disaster, it's easier to make drastic decisions. When you play like (at Porto) and you don't get a result, it's more difficult.
"The result doesn't mean that you played bad. The big mistakes we made twice don't mean that the team defended badly."
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