Did Chelsea wait too long to fire Jose Mourinho?

In the midst of a disastrous Premier League campaign that has the defending champions just one point above the relegation zone in 16th place, Chelsea has fired its manager, Jose Mourinho, this morning.

It’s a move that some would argue should have been made weeks ago.

The numbers certainly make it look that way:

And, of course, there were his bizarre comments after the most recent loss to Leicester City.

“Some of them need to rethink the way they live Chelsea, the way they live football, they live their job,” he told Chelsea TV.

“Chelsea is big, football is more than a job, it’s a passion. Every match on the pitch you should live with an unbelievable passion. How many millions would love to be football players and they can’t be? You shouldn’t waste any minutes on the pitch, you should enjoy every minute and you should give absolutely everything.

“Yes, I feel frustrated with some players and I feel that some others give absolutely everything and don’t deserve to lose.”

I understand why the move has been made. That said, I’m about to offer a minority opinion:

I’m not sure firing him right now was the right move.

The league is lost

Defending the title in the Premier League is out of the question. There are 15 teams and 20 points separating Chelsea from the top spot in the league. So, the idea that a caretaker manager — rumored to be Guus Hiddink — will spur the Blues on to their former glory domestically this season is folly.

Even getting in the top four seems far-fetched. Chelsea would need to jump 12 teams and make up 15 points in 22 matches. Possible, but not probable, I’d say.

I don’t think any subjective look at the Blues’ roster would lead anyone to think that keeping Mourinho on hand through the end of the season would leave the club in any danger of relegation.

So, with the team’s preseason domestic goals out of reach, “the new manager bounce” wouldn’t matter much in the short term.

The cup could runneth over

Mourinho has won 13 different trophies in his managerial career. Even with this year’s difficulties, why wouldn’t Chelsea want him on hand to chase this year’s FA Cup?

The Blues wouldn’t be as affected by league concerns, and would likely be able to field fresher sides as the competition wore on.

The Champions League

Player motivation has clearly been a problem at Stamford Bridge this season. But one universal truth exits with modern professional footballers.

They want to play, and play well, in the Champions League.

Unlike their domestic form, the Blues haven’t been that bad in the Champions League. They won Group G, albeit on the final day, and now face a round of 16 tie with Paris Saint-German.

Say what you want about “The Special One,” but as a two-time Champions League winner with unfancied sides (Port0 in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010), I think I may have taken my chances with him in an underdog role.

Especially since winning this year’s Champions League is the club’s most realistic path into Europe next season.

No down side

I don’t see the down side to keeping him on. Odds are, the team isn’t going to win anything this season, no matter who the manager is.

The worst-case scenario would be if Chelsea didn’t win the FA Cup or the Champions League, and finished near the bottom of the table. Then, fire him in May (when some big managerial names will be available) and spend the summer remaking the squad from the manager’s office on down.

The best-case scenario would be that the Blues, playing with a chip on their shoulders, managed to win the Champions League. Suddenly, that 12th-place league finish would be seen as a bump in the road. Mourinho could then revamp the squad, and take a shot at EPL redemption in 2016-2017.

Either way, the summer is the best time to make such moves when league survival isn’t a concern.

About Randy Capps

South Carolina native, Fulham apologist, writer and sports fanatic.

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