Chelsea’s title defence is starting to look like a sitcom

Sometimes football just becomes inhumane. Like watching the minnows whipped in the Champions League group stages, like watching Derby County lose week after week in the Premier League in 2007/08 or Brazil v Germany in the World Cup of 2014, sometimes you just want someone to step in and end the misery and humiliation.

This week it’s FIFA, UEFA and whoever else who thought an International break was a good idea in mid November who have come to Chelsea’s rescue .

Their miserable run continues, and new problems are still on the horizon. The impending Eva Carneiro court proceedings against Chelsea Football Club and against Mourinho personally are one thing, but on the field Chelsea are still showing signs of a club rife with infighting and poor form.

There’s still the possibility of exit from the Champions League, and we’re probably going to start talking about an actual relegation battle very soon.

[ffc-gal cat=”chelsea” no=”5″]

Surely no one actually believes that Chelsea will go down, given the players they have, but if Newcastle – only one point behind Chelsea – are in a relegation battle, if West Brom and Norwich aren’t considered to be sitting pretty, and if Swansea are thinking of sacking their manager, then why shouldn’t Chelsea be thought of in the same company?

You can tell a lot about a man from the company he keeps – and the relegation buddies seem to be the crowd that Chelsea have fallen in with this season.

At least that’s how it looks on the league table. It’s a bad influence, we’ll find Jose smoking in the toilets soon.

After only a few weeks of the season, you could tell that things weren’t right at Chelsea. Losing games early on was bad, but just like now the prevailing idea was that Chelsea would benefit from the international break, then we said it in October. Now we’re saying it in November, but we don’t really believe that they can really recover after this one either.

The Chelsea crisis has stopped being ‘fun’. At first it was all interesting quotes, stats that made your eyes water and performances from players we all thought were just tired. Now it has become excruciating to watch. Mourinho is playing his usual role as the antagonistic villain of the piece, but the act is starting to wear thin.

Raphael Honigstein told the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast that he thought Mourinho had essentially used up his big guns too soon by shooting his mouth off to the press so early in the season. By telling the press that his players were not playing well enough, by singling out for criticism such stalwarts of the title-winning team as Matic, Fabregas, Hazard, and even captain John Terry, Mourinho really needed a reaction there and then. When that didn’t work, he really had nowhere else to go.

Broadly, Honigstein is onto something. Mourinho has become a man who is completely at the mercy of the form of his players. Once you run out of ammo surrender is your last option. There’s nothing more he can say to motivate his team, and there are no players he can put in to get the results. Maybe the game is up.

In the 1950s, the British Army joined the American forces in the Korean War. Only a few years after the end of the Second World War, Britain’s resources were scarce, and their soldiers weren’t as well-armed as their American counterparts.

There is a story – probably apocryphal, but a great image nonetheless – of British soldiers running out of ammunition and holding their positions until backup arrived by throwing tin cans to fool the advancing Chinese soldiers into thinking they were being bombarded with grenade fire.  

That story may not be true, but it conjures an image of the task facing Jose Mourinho at the moment. With his ammo spent and the pressure building on all sides, he needs to find some way of weathering the storm and holding his position until things start to get better.

The ‘fight them with forks’ attitude is the best Mourinho can hope for right now. But he also has to hope the World doesn’t notice his lack of other options. This title defence is looking less and less like the glorious army marching forward unstoppably.

It’s a comedy campaign looking more and more like Dad’s Army.