After such a horrendous performance against West Ham on Saturday, leaving them in tenth place with just ten points from seven games, it’s impossible not to draw comparisons between Manchester United’s troubled start to the new campaign and Chelsea’s ‘Mourinho season’ – the infamous 2014/15 term that saw a Premier League title-winning side spectacularly implode.
Results is of course the most obvious similarity at this moment in time, but even after just seven games there are distinct and specific parallels between how the opening months unfolded for Jose Mourinho’s catastrophic Blues and the Portuguese’s current United team.
It’s already starting to feel like Groundhog Day for the two-time Champions League winner and last time at Stamford Bridge, he could only stick it out until December.
If some of these trends continue, he might not even last that long this time around as United’s season and Mourinho’s reputation continues to hang in the balance.
At Chelsea: Chelsea failed to win any of their games during the 2015/16 pre-season tour of America, the same destination where Manchester United held their preparations for the new campaign this year. They didn’t keep a single clean sheet and even lost to New York Red Bulls.
Those poor results and performances came on a backdrop of underwhelming recruitment: Chelsea spent just £79million that summer – less than Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool – and nearly all of their signings were made to improve the peripheries of the squad rather than the starting XI.
With the exception of Pedro, Baba Rahman was their most expensive addition of the summer. He made 15 Premier League appearances before returning to the Bundesliga on loan.
At Manchester United: Another disappointing tour of North America for Mourinho, this time managing one victory over Real Madrid but failing to win the remainder of United’s five pre-season games.
That included a telling 4-1 hammering by Liverpool, a loss to Bayern Munich and worrying draws with Club America and San Jose. Mourinho would lament the results on players returning late from the World Cup, claiming he wasn’t working with his true first-team squad.
At the same time, Ed Woodward’s reluctance to give Mourinho another blank cheque saw United spend an eerily similar £74million during the summer, with just one signing being made to directly improve the starting XI in the form of Fred.
However, the Brazilian has started only half of United’s Premier League fixtures so far, four out of seven, and the superstar centre-back Mourinho demanded never arrived.
At Chelsea: Mourinho’s frustrations with Chelsea’s summer spending and disappointing pre-season seemed to reach a head during the first outing of the season proper, a 2-2 draw with Swansea City at home that will be remembered infamously for the Portuguese’s confrontation with physio Eva Carneiro – who attempted to treat a downed Eden Hazard. The incredibly public fallout drew criticism and hung over the club like a dark cloud in subsequent months as Carneiro was relieved of her duties.
Perhaps related, perhaps not, the man Carneiro tried to treat went on to suffer the most disappointing season of his career. Although Hazard bagged three assists in Chelsea’s first seven games, he wouldn’t actually score in the Premier League until April and finished the term with just four strikes and four setups to his name – despite winning the PFA Player of the Year award for his role in the Blues’ title win the campaign previous.
[brid autoplay=”true” video=”301458″ player=”12034″ title=”The Problem With Paul Pogba”]
At Manchester United: If falling out with a hugely popular figure behind the scenes at Chelsea was debasing enough, publicly being at loggerheads with the most expensive signing in the club’s history will surely have a far greater effect this time around.
Just like how the Carneiro scandal was caught by the cameras, the press were suspiciously allowed access to training last week as Mourinho told Paul Pogba to leave the session amid a clear argument between the two. He’s also stripped the Frenchman of the vice-captaincy, just a matter of weeks after giving it to him.
Likewise, although his slump in form can be traced back to first arriving at Old Trafford in January and arguably even his final six months with Arsenal, it appears Mourinho has once again lost the faith of his most important attacker. Whereas Hazard showed his disillusionment on the pitch in the form of passive resistance, Alexis Sanchez didn’t even make the squad that lost 3-1 to West Ham on Saturday.
At Chelsea: For whatever criticisms were thrown at Mourinho’s Chelsea teams previously, they were always defensively resilient at the very least. During their title-winning 2014/15 campaign, Chelsea conceded less than a goal per game but the first seven outings of the subsequent season would see them allow in a whopping 14.
A big part of that was constant changes to the starting XI – albeit slightly influenced by early suspensions for Thibaut Courtois and John Terry, Mourinho had made 12 changes by Gameweek 7 – while away form spectacularly tanked, losing two from the first four. During the title-winning season, Chelsea lost three all year and averaged two points a game on the road.
At Manchester United: While United’s starting XI under Mourinho has never been settled in the same way Chelsea’s was during the 2014/15 season, changes is once again a common theme. With a staggering 19 already this term, only Newcastle have made more after seven games.
And this time around, it’s a lot more severe. Chelsea were always a 4-2-3-1 team during Mourinho’s second spell but United have used three different formations in the Premier League already this season, including Saturday’s disastrous 3-5-2 setup that had Scott McTominay at centre-half.
In the process, United have gone on to concede twelve times from their first seven games, which is actually the fifth-most of any side in the Premier League so far, and once again suffered a drastic slump in form on the road. The Red Devils lost just five away games in the Premier League last season, two of them being in their final six away outings when the title race was over, but have already chalked up two losses this term following defeats to Brighton and West Ham.
So, United fans, is it time to sack Mourinho before the club suffers the same kind of season as Chelsea? Let us know by voting below…