How quick the mighty can fall in the English Premier League is illustrated by Chelsea manager’s Jose Mourinho’s plunge from grace.
There’s no doubt Mourinho, the self-styled special one, has an exceptional record as manager.
Since 2002, he has taken the top league title in four different countries with two spells at Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Porto.
He has also won the European Champions League twice – with Porto and Inter Milan – and the Europa Cup once with Porto, plus a clutch of other trophies.
But now, he languishes at a new low.
Embroiled in controversy
Chelsea are 11th in the table, 10 points off leaders Manchester City having played the same name of games.
He has been censured for criticising referees, is mired in a constructive dismissal row with former club doctor Eva Carneiro and rumoured to be dealing with a dressing room mutiny.
In his last match at Stamford Bridge against fellow strugglers Aston Villa, last season’s star player Eden Hazard was benched and his team only came out 2-0 winners thanks to some poor defending by Villa and a fluke own-goal.
In contrast, Chelsea had more or less sealed winning the Premiership last year by Christmas thanks to a searing start.
This year, he has lost more league games than he has won and admits his team lacks steel and confidence that were the trademarks of their remarkable last season.
Pundits say this is make or break for Mourinho, who is used to coming to big teams and spending out millions on top players.
This close season, he spent little or nothing on new names to improve the squad and add new life and impetus.
The squad has been hit by the loss of goalkeeper Curtois, a three-match ban for goal scorer Costa and a too many teams exploiting the aging John Terry’s lack of pace and the error prone right back Branislav Ivanovic.
Ivanovic’s replacement Baba Rahman has proved to be lack-lustre and not up to the pace of the Premier League.
Nevertheless, Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich tried to lift the pressure on Mourinho by offering a new contract as a gesture of support.
Regardless of the gesture, Abramovich has deep pockets that make the reputed £37.5 million pay-off to rid Chelsea of Mourinho small change if the worst happens.
Life propping up the table is a stress that is a lot harder to cope with than life at the top.
At the moment, Mourinho can’t buy a win against a rated team – and with in-form West Ham waiting at Upton Park for Chelsea next time out, things do not look like improving soon for the special one.