Complacent? Deluded? Let down by his big players? Phil McNulty looks at where it went wrong for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
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Chelsea are not in a relegation battle, despite lying 16th in the Premier League, according to Arsene Wenger.
The Blues are one point above the drop zone and boss Jose Mourinho’s future has been discussed by the board.
“If you ask me objectively ‘will Chelsea go down?’ I say no, no chance,” said Arsenal boss Wenger, who has clashed with Mourinho in the past but did not discuss his present situation.
“They are in a difficult spell but they are not in a relegation battle.”
The Arsenal boss also pushed Mourinho in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over the Gunners later that year.
In his first spell as Chelsea boss in 2005, Mourinho called Wenger a
Asked if he thought Chelsea’s best chance of turning their form around was to keep Mourinho, Wenger added: “I do not want to assess any other things over Chelsea because it’s not my problem.”
Sanchez could give Arsenal boost
Arsenal, who lie second in the Premier League, welcome third-placed Manchester City to Emirates Stadium on Monday holding a one-point lead over Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Wenger could have Alexis Sanchez back after a hamstring injury suffered in the draw at Norwich on 1 December.
“There is a very slight chance for Sanchez to be in the game,” said Wenger. “He is running but not participating in full training.
“It is still December. We are not fighting for the Premier League on Monday but we will look to nullify individual quality they have.”
Could 80 points win the Premier League?
Leicester are the surprise leaders of the Premier League with 35 points from their 16 games.
The average amount of points earned by the champions since the top flight was reduced to 20 teams is 85.7, but Wenger says the winners may take the title with a lower mark this term.
“It looks to be very tight. The Premier League could be decided at around 80 points,” said Wenger.
“If you look at the results, consistency will be the main priority because every week you are surprised by results.
“We have established a good run and it is important we continue that.”
Wenger on Barcelona draw
Wenger was speaking for the first time since his side were drawn to play Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Arsenal were beaten by the Spanish side in the 2006 final, while Barcelona also knocked them out in 2010 and 2011.
“We are more mature,” said the Gunners boss. “It was always very tight and we were sometimes unlucky as well. We do not forget that and it is deep in my body.
“We have a chance to put things right and we will focus on that.”
Brian McDermott is set to be appointed as the new manager of Championship side Reading, three years after being sacked by the club.
The 54-year-old, who led the Royals to promotion to the Premier League in 2012, will replace
McDermott spent over three years in charge, but left in March 2013 with the club in the top flight relegation zone.
He then spent 13 months in charge at Leeds United before taking up a scouting role with Arsenal last year.
The club has called a news conference for 14:00 GMT at the Madejski Stadium.
The Royals are currently 13th in the league, seven points outside the Championship play-off places after losing their last four matches, including Wednesday’s
2-1 defeat at Hull.
McDermott first joined Reading as chief scout during Alan Pardew’s spell in charge in 2000, having previously managed non-league sides Slough and Woking.
He first took charge as caretaker manager in December 2009, replacing Brendan Rodgers, with the club languishing just above the Championship relegation zone.
The former Arsenal midfielder was given the job on a full-time basis a month later, before steering the Royals to a ninth-placed finish.
A year later, Reading lost out in the Championship play-off final to Rodgers’ Swansea side, before gaining promotion to the top flight in 2012.
McDermott’s first game back as Royals boss will be Sunday’s visit of Blackburn.
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Speculation about Jose Mourinho’s position as Chelsea manager is nothing new and will “ebb away”, says former Blues winger Pat Nevin.
Mourinho’s future at the club is in question following
discussions about his position among Blues directors.
The Premier League champions’ defeat at Leicester on Monday – their ninth loss in 16 league games – left them a point above the relegation places in 16th.
Asked if Mourinho, 52, would be sacked, Nevin said: “I don’t see it happening.”
The Scot, a regular pundit on Chelsea’s television channel, was speaking on a
special BBC Radio 5 live programme about Mourinho’s future.
Nevin, who played for the London club from 1983-1988, added: “I’ve been outside Stamford Bridge seven or eight times after games this season and the mood today is no different.
“I would agree the manager’s future has been in doubt for months, but that doesn’t mean he will go.
“It builds up and comes to a crescendo, but every time it then ebbs away.”
Chelsea host fellow strugglers Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.
‘The nuclear option’
Nevin was asked about comments Mourinho made immediately after Monday’s 2-1 defeat.
The Portuguese said he felt his
“work was betrayed” by his players at the King Power Stadium.
“That is extreme,” said Nevin. “I would love to ask Mourinho if he meant that. And, if he did, who did he mean exactly?
“Who let him down deliberately? Because that is what betrayal means. It’s an extraordinarily strong word in the English language.
“I wonder if he is aware of how strong. Because if he is, then it was a nuclear option.”
Should Mourinho go? The vote
As part of Wednesday’s
Sportsday Live on the BBC Sport website, we asked readers what Chelsea should do. Here’s how the voting broke down:
- Sack him, he’s lost the plot – 29%
- Hold on to see if they hammer Sunderland – 8%
- Be patient… decide at the end of the season – 44%
- You can’t sack Jose Mourinho – 18%
An accusation? Or a masterstroke?
Burnley midfielder Joey Barton, appearing alongside Nevin, suggested an alternative opinion on Mourinho’s post-match comments.
“Semantics can be really difficult here – has Mourinho directly accused anyone of betrayal?” he said.
“If he did then there is no way back – he tends to build an incredible bond with players and backs them to the hilt in the media.
“But is this another one of his masterstrokes? Is he deflecting away from the result and the run of form they’re on?”