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October 2020

Will Scunthorpe knock Chelsea out of the cup? The real reason for the decline and fall of Mourinho’s team.

By Tony Attwood.

Last year it was Chelsea 2 Bradford City 4.  It could have been the biggest headline of the century, but the media were not ready to put the boot in at that time, as the identification of underlying problems or accurately predicting problems to come is not exactly their thing.  It is always about now, now, now.

This year Scunthorpe United will travel to Chelsea after beating Leyton Orient in a replay.  The press will call the FA Cup Chelsea’s most realistic chance of a trophy this season.

Last time Scunthorpe played at Stamford Bridge was in 2005.  They took the lead but finally went down 3-1.   It could be a nervy occasion.

Arsenal have been here too – with all sorts of terrible defeats to lower league teams from Walsall onwards, so that result last season is hardly unique.

But as we ponder the chance of another result like last year, I am still puzzled by why this has all gone so wrong at Chelsea.   Certainly the fact that it has been what one might call a difficult season at the club has caused a lot of pundits to write about the reasons behind their demise, but I am not sure anyone has come up with a definitive answer.

The simple conclusion is easy: that all the money you could ever imagine is not enough to guarantee success.  The simple answer as to what went wrong is that Mourinho, so entranced by his own brilliance, has flipped.   The affair with Dr Carneiro still rumbles on awaiting the next employment tribunal hearing.  That Chelsea were utterly in the wrong is not in doubt, and the failure of various bodies such as the League and FA to seriously censure Chelsea showed us once again where those august bodies are.

It was a crazy, crazy fiasco to get embroiled in, and the fact that it is still going on shows something deeply wrong in the inner workings of the club.  That I think is reason one.  Not enough to explain the decline and fall, but still a first step in understanding why.  They really think they are Gods who can do exactly what they wish to anyone they wish to push around.

It is not impossible that the second part of the reason for the decline is that Mourinho has lost the ability to make sound and reasoned judgements.  That may also be true, but even so I think there is more.

Chelsea has been involved in some strange actions over the last couple of years, and one I would highlight is the issue of loans.  They have a policy of buying up lots and lots of players and then loaning them out.   All clubs do it of course, but not to the extent that Chelsea does.

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Arsenal have 12 players on loan…

  • Carl Jenkinson – West Ham,
  • Wojciech Szczesny – Roma,
  • Yaya Sanogo – Ajax,
  • Serge Gnabry – West Brom,
  • Chuba Akpom – Hull City,
  • Emiliano Martinez – Wolverhampton,
  • Isaac Hayden – Hull City,
  • Jon-Miquel Toral – Birmingham,
  • Wellington – Bolton,
  • Geidon Zelalem – Rangers,
  • Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Ipswich,
  • Dan Crowley – Barnsley

Six or seven loanees is the norm for most clubs.   Clubs looking to build for the future go higher.  Everton just have four, Liverpool have 14.   But for Chelsea it is 33.  It is hard to find them all but here is a list that the Daily Mail put together and may well be close to the truth.

Nathan Ake – Watford, Michael Hector – Reading, Andreas Christensen – Borussia Monchengladbach, Wallace – Carpi, Todd Kane – NEC Nijmegan, Alex Davey – Peterborough, Kenneth Omeruo – Kasimpasa, Tomas Kalas – Middlesborough, Jeremie Boga – Stade Rennes, Lucas Piazon – Reading, Marko Marin – Trabzonspor, Jordan Houghton – Gillingham, Isaiah Brown – Vitesse, Mohamed Salah – Roma, Gael Kakuta – Seville, Nathan – Vitesse, Christian Cuevas – St. Truiden, Marco van Ginkel – Stoke, Juan Cuadrado – Juventus, Christian Atsu – Bournemouth, Victor Moses – West Ham, Danilo Pantic – Vitesse, Mario Pasalic – Monaco, Lewis Baker – Vitesse, Islam Feruz – Hibernian, Stipe Perica – Udinese, Ulises Davila – Vitoria Setubal, Patrick Bamford – Crystal Palace, Dominic Solanke – Vitesse, Joao Rodriguez Gonzalez – St. Truiden, Matej Delac – FK Sarajevo

Now I am not saying that having this many loanees is the cause of the current problems, but it is a symptom of what is going wrong.  It’s just such an odd thing to do, a sort of “we can do it so we will” and a bullyboy vision of “you’re not having him, I am.”

But let us look at what happens to youth players.

Sky did an analysis in which they looked at youth players who met a very strict criteria, and then saw what happened next…

 To be considered by Sky as being a “locally produced player” the players had to
  • Join their club before their 18th birthday
  • Play or their club’s U18 side or equivalent
  • Not have not played a senior match for another professional team before joining their current club

Not surprisingly Arsenal came top of the league of youth team graduates who have made Premier League appearances.  We have nine players who meet the criteria, and six who have made 10 or more appearances.  Figures that are matched by Tottenham.

Chelsea are midway down the table with six players who have done it, but only one who has gone on to 10+ games.  Man U has eight all told and four who have made 10+ games, while Man City, for all their billions spent on their vaunted youth stadium have one such player – who has not played 10+ games.

So, who are the nine Arsenal players have progressed from their youth ranks to play for the first team in the Premier League?

They are Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Hector Bellerin, Francis Coquelin, Wojciech Szczesny and Serge Gnabry who have all exceeded the 10 plus mark.  Ainsley Maitland-Niles,  Chuba Akpom and Alex Iwobi have also made first team appearances.

And what of Chelsea.   Chelsea surely must be getting their youth processes right.  After all they won the UEFA Youth League and the FA Youth Cup last season (the fourth time in six years).

But John Terry is still the only former Chelsea youth player in the current squad to have made more than 10 Premier League appearances.

And maybe here we being to see the problem.  Yes Chelsea can have the biggest loan system in the universe.  Yes they can keep on winning the youth trophies.   But their eternal desire for Victory Now does not allow them to progress players through the ranks on a regular basis.  They are not really planning for the future – rather they have built a farm from which the ripest player might be plucked and the rest sold for slaughter.

And thus when crisis comes they don’t have the players to turn to.

There is no doubt that early last season Arsenal were not looking so good.   But Arsenal did something rather clever – they brought Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin into the first team  Frankie is now considered so vital to the squad that the bloggettas are screaming for a £30m replacement for him, to be brought into the team until he recovers from injury.

Yet a year ago he was a loanee at Charlton, and his return was being dismissed as a sign of panic.

Indeed even as late as August this year, after Coquelin’s brilliant run in the team, the bloggetta “le-grove” ran the headline  “Coquelin is the weak link. Why hasn’t Wenger dealt with this?”   But then that was le-grove.

I think that what has happened at Chelsea is that there are so many players who have come in on huge transfers, that when they don’t play well, there really isn’t the refreshing power and enthusiasm of a youth team player coming through.

There is also the lack of belief in youth players from Mourinho.  Would he have kept faith with Coquelin, or would he have followed the le-grove vision of turning on him at the first chance?  Would he have even seen the style, speed and ability of Bellerin, let alone brought him into the first team?

As it is Chelsea has a way of doing things, and it has led to disaster.  So we get headlines like these from the Telegraph (and yes they are all from that one paper).

  • Chelsea draw up plan in case of Jose exit
  • Who has betrayed Jose? Here’s the verdict
  • ‘Special One’ has had his limitations exposed
  • Mourinho may prefer to blame the players but he must ask why he has failed to rally them
  • Which players should Chelsea get rid of?
  • Mourinho realises problem is the enemy within
  • Defeat may force Abramovich’s hand
  • Time rapidly running out for Terry
  • Who could Abramovich appoint to replace Mourinho?
  • Chelsea players: who should stay and who should go?
  • Terry has gone from untouchable to vulnerable.

Bur Mourinho’s problems are increased by one other factor.  The success players have who have left the club.   Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Cuadrado to name but a few.

Although Cesc Fabregas had some success after leaving, that was a case of a player leaving whom Arsenal did not want to leave.  It is the selling of players willingly who then do well that opens the questions.

Mourinho recently said, “The only thing I know is the board wants the best for this club.  I would like the board to analyse the situation, the budget, the balance of the club, what they are expecting to do or not to do in January. I want to make the right decision for the club, this is the most important thing.”

Which suggests he is saying, “It isn’t my fault.”

And maybe that is the point.

From the anniversary files

17 December 1944: Jimmy Robertson (the first player to score for each side in north London derbies) born.  Having failed to get into the Middlesbrough team he went to Cowdenbeath and then St Mirren before being purchased by Tottenham in 1964, for £25,000.

17 December 1955, Dennis Evans scores one of the most famous own goals in history when a whistle in the crowd resulted in Evans kicking the ball into his own goal.  Arsenal 4 Blackpool 1. It was only Arsenal’s 7th win in 21 games.

The Untold Books

Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football, is now available on Kindle at £9.99.  For more details and to buy a copyplease click here or go to Amazon Kindle and search forWoolwich Arsenal.

Forthcoming titles:

  • The Arsenal Yankee  By Danny Karbassiyoon
  • Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970.  By John Sowman.  Introduction by Bob Wilson.


37 comments to Will Scunthorpe knock Chelsea out of the cup? The real reason for the decline and fall of Mourinho’s team.

  • Pat

    You use the interesting phrase ‘turning on him’ when you are considering what Mourinho might have done to Francis Coquelin if he wasn’t making the grade, Tony.

    That is just what he has done, only he has turned on his whole team. His pathetic squirming talk of all he had done before the match and how his players hadn’t followed his instructions – about which astonishingly enough one of the Telegraph’s chief sports writers sympathised with Mourinho – shows his complete lack of loyalty to his players and exposes his previous public camaraderie towards them as completely hollow.

    To say as he did that last season he made them look better than they were just adds insult to injury. Who would want to play for a manager that talks about them like that? His naked self interest is exposed for all to see.

  • colario

    If you continually betray the loyalty of those who loyally support you, you will eventually lose their support. As Mrs Thatcher found this out to her cost.

    This public attack by Mourino on his players may be what has been happening in private in the club. If so then I think this is the cause of the drop in form of the players. Their confidence has been undermined.

    As we all know a lack of confidence is a passport to failure.

    Happy as any Gooner at the demise of chelski I feel for the players. Who would want to work for a boss with Mourino’s mind set?

  • Pat

    Another witty performance from Arsene Wenger in his press conference. In particular how he answers the questions about Chelsea compared with what he says about Pellegrini, whom he says he admires as a manager and as a human being. Quizzed about Mourinho he says – well have a look!

  • serge

    Slightly OT (we are discussing managers after all ), it’s good to see Brian McDermott back in charge at Reading. Should never have been sacked in the first place.
    Our loss is their gain.

  • proudkev

    The point is simple.

    Joes Mourinho is a classic cheque book Manager.

    A man who can manage teams by buying the best player available for each position. He does not have the patience, the inclination or the ability to improve young players. He sticks with the tried and tested -last season half the team played 36 to 38 PL games.

    New players who come in on big salaries, instead of promoting youth team players, are self motivated and do not need any encouraging. As the team wins, the harmony is there and the players confidence is high. The manager laughs and jokes with his team and in press conferences. Like a peacock, he struts and he is happy to be seen in group huddles with his players. Happy to use press conferences to remind everyone how special he is and mock other managers.

    Until things start to go wrong.

    When things go wrong, his giant ego does not allow him to recognise that perhaps he has done something wrong. Instead, he rounds on the players and is happy to bad mouth their form publicly. Worse than that, he even attacks non-playing members of the Chelsea staff. All of this causes division, demorilises players, negatively affects confidence and ultimately demotivates. A player without confidence is 50% of the player.

    When things go wrong, Mourinho struggles.

    One of the greatest skills a manager can have is to be able to identify and rectify problems. All teams go through lean spells, all players lose form from time to time and real skill is needed to navigate these difficult times. When players lose confidence, they need picking up and turning back into the player they were before. If mistakes have been maken, then this too needs to be recognised. What you cannot do, is start abusing your players and your staff.

    Not promoting young players or having given then opportunities means when you need change they simplay are not ready.

    For all these reasons, Mourinho is not the Manager the media have tried to paint. His spell in Spain was a warning the press refused to heed, he is anasty, snidey piece of work that is not fit to zip up Arsenes coat.

    The fcat Mourinho is still having excuses made for him by sections of the media is laughable. They are now saying he could be off to Manchester United. Sorry but Mourinho has been found out. One look at his time in Madrid should have told the media everything they wanted to know. A boring, defensive coach who thinks he is bigger than any club, happy to revel in the dark arts with a penchant for turning on opposition managers, his own players and his own non-playing staff when things don’t go his way. He may suit the traditional small club like Chelsea and Porto but the big clubs will realise he carries too much baggage.

  • proudkev


  • Chris

    And the press still does not show the contradiction of Wenger-specialist-in-failure and NotSoSpecialAnymoreOne never responsible for any defeat but damn well the only one to credit with victory….

    Looking at the Leicester game, I have to admit I was bored and did not see a ‘nice’ game. And looking at the goals they took, it just looks to me the sqaud just does not play anymore. They playact. Maybe a way to payback the manager in a special way ?

    Just hope he does not get fired, just too much fun to watch what happens and at least the hyenas are after someone else then Mr Wenger. Nice for a change.

  • Polo

    I think Chelsea demise this season is due to the medical staff fiasco – Jose attacks on the medical staff whose job was to assist the players was the start of the decline. His outrage would have sent an impression to the players that he only care about winning and not them. Also, he embarrass Eden publicly by saying he wasn’t injured he was just tired, implying Eden was faking injury. Then the medical staff lost their jobs, all those years of treating the players surely there would be a strong friendship and bond between the medical staff and the players therefore the players probably felt betrayed and not happy how the medical staff was treated, this put negative feelings in the players mind toward that the club for example the club does not care about me, why should I care about the club etc.

  • Polo

    And who is the ‘Specialist in failure’ now? It’s amazing that some of our fans prefer Jose over AW.

  • Polo

    It’s amazing that for nearly 19 years AW has never led Arsenal below fourth place even during austerity periods. The WOBs should show him more respect.


    The little Portuguese translator is to blame for all the turmoil at Chelsea. He is a classless little snot of a person. The way he is acting reminds me of Colonel Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now. The little eye-gouging megalomaniac is showing the whole footballing world what a fucking douche-bag he really is. I can’t wait to see him fall. I don’t normally wish bad upon others, but in his case I will take much pleasure when the hammer comes down on his little noggin. He is so gauche and underneath all that bravado he really is a mass of insecurity. He takes all the credit during the good times and doesn’t take any responsibility during the bad times. This motherfucker is supposedly a tactical genius, He is just a motherfucking asshole who parks buses and takes the joy out of the beautiful game. Speaking of buses, He is throwing his players underneath them big time. Fat Sam does the very same thing at a fraction of what the self-proclaimed special one spends on players. He really is delusional and I am no medical professional, But he is heading for a nervous breakdown. As my mother used to say his chickens coming home to roost and he is getting his just desserts. I am just loving it. I also wanna say where is that charlatan Mike T. now that his team is in a relegation battle. I always knew he was so full of shit. Just like his odious little snot nosed manager.

  • Nonny

    Players revolt at Chelsea did not come as a surprise owing to past antecedents but their demise to the foot of the table makes me wonder if the players are not doing these on purpose to force Mourinho out. It gets to a point in once life when one can say enough is enough to the insults.

    These are defending league champions and should be doing better even without a coach.

    The fact that no single player has come in from outside the core group be given a run of games and that Mourinho continues to depend on the same set of players who are “betraying” him makes me wonder about his competence.

    If some player eg Costa is not playing to instructions then give Remy a run of games so also for other positions. Why continue to field him to “Betray” you. Chelsea don’t have injury problems like Arsenal, City and ManU. What happened to the 25 man squad and unlimited U21 players that can play. This goes to show Mourinho ineptitude.

    That Mourinho is a despicable man is not news. That he has become a despicable manager is the reason why Chelsea is where they are and I’m Loving it.

  • proudkev


    I am afreaid the WOB’s have dug a hole so deep they cannot get out of it. Therefore, they continue to abuse the manager and the players. These are not supporters of Arsenal Football Club, all they care about is their own little agenda and not being proved wrong. The real irony is that these clowns rarely get anything right. Must be real fun watching your team play just so you can find something to complain about. Shit fans no club needs.

  • WalterBroeckx

    The difference between the class of Wenger and the shit of Mourinho was again oh so obvious in the press conference when reporters asked about Chelsea and Mourinho. Even the Belgium press wrote this in an article this afternoon.

    If it would have been the other way round you can bet a lot of money on Mourinho doing some extra backstabbing on a man (Wenger) on the floor.

    But Wenger showed his class and didn’t react at all in that way. In fact Wenger saying Chelsea are not in a relegation battle and that they will get out of this will be closer to the truth than what we wish that would happen to Mourinho and Chelsea: a real relegation battle till the end and if possible a drop to the championship.

    But well Wenger doesn’t think it will happen so we just will have to live with the idea of them being in the PL next season.

    Now I must say that deep down inside I wouldn’t be surprised if Wenger has some smiles behind closed doors when his eyes wander down the league table to the lower regions…. 🙂

  • Menace

    Never forget that Chelsea are holding 3 points that belong to Arsenal. The FA & PGMO’s Dean robbed us. It is that which has taken them to a level below the sewers.

    If Mourinho offers to replay that match & the FA also apologise for their failure in fairplay, perhaps Chelseas luck might turn around. Oh! was that a flying pig?

  • Gord

    Breaking everywhere.

    He’s gone. No more moaninho at Chelsea.

  • WalterBroeckx

    breaking news: Mourinho HAS been sacked!!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Big disappointment here… I would have enjoyed seeing him struggling a bit more to be honest…

  • dan

    Why sack him now, he was doing such a grand job!

  • Gord

    In minor news this morning. A young player (19) in a lower league, received Young Player of the Month. Three minutes into the next game, he receives a season ending knee injury.

    Not only is the typical (Neville) footballer too stupid to play football properly (with skill), they think that the awards list issued every month is like the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. Rip out the picture and pin it to the dart board! Make up life size posters of the person, and put them on the front of tackling dummies. Kill! Kill! Kill!

    The person who ended this young man’s season, should be banned for longer than that.

    Just ridiculous.

  • Jambug

    As much as Chelsea have won many many trophies over the Abramovich years I would not exchanged our baron years for one of them.

    I detest everything about them.

    And before anyone says they are ‘winners’, we’ll I’m sorry but for me, as much as winning is important, it should never be at the expense of honesty, integrity, and so many other traits that I hold so dear.

    Traits that Jose and Chelsea FC, so obviously have no interest in.

    Win at all costs?

    Sorry not in my book.

    Thank you Wenger for making me proud to be an Arsenal fan. A Club, and a man, that stand for so many values I admire and aspire to.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Scunthorpe will not like this news… :-p 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    The Special GOne 🙂 What a difference a ‘G’ makes 🙂

  • Al

    Yay! He’s gone! This is the best news all week 🙂 Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke 🙂

  • colario

    Who is a loser now?

  • Mourinho gone? I can picture the entire playing and medical staff at Chelsea clinking glasses at the moment. Dr. Eva Caneiro will sleep tonight with a grin stretching from one lovely ear to the other. Maybe for many, many nights.

    The only downside to all these is that he doesn’t survive long enough to play at the Emirates, so that he can be beaten AGAIN by Arsenal this season.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    He engineered his own sack by calling his players saboteurs; he must now be expecting to earn a huge severance package from Chelsea. However, I will prefer that Chelsea contests in an Arbitration hearing that he didn’t deserve or merit the severance package, based on his woeful performance, which cost him the job.

  • dan

    has anyone else just witnessed that tart on sky sports new just say “Arsenals title tilt against man city on Monday” ?

  • Richard

    Jose sacked after losing to the man he once replaced at Chelsea.

  • dan

    Jose accumulated more wealth being sacked than being in a job!

  • Pat

    Yes, Walter, Arsene Wenger said Chelsea wouldn’t be relegated. But he also refused to answer when asked if he was sorry for Mourinho. In every other case he has sympathised with the manager. So I think his opinion of Mourinho was crystal clear.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I’m in shock ! For I was just about take aim at the the Moaning One and give him both the barrels of abuse , but alas , he is no more ! I ‘m going to miss my daily laugh at him . Hope someone gives him a job soon !
    I had taken a bet with my Chelski loving son that he would be sacked before the end of his 3 year contract , but predicted that he would last only 1 1/2 years.
    My crystal ball must have been all fogged up or infected by some virus as , I missed it by a year ! Danm !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I suppose Moanin’inho must have had a face off with RA to plead his case , to be patient , for more time and for more money to turn things around .
    And the answer would have been, “Not in a million years !” , somewhat just like in this joke .

    Man: “God, how much is a million years for you?”
    God: “Like a minute.”
    Man: “God, how much is a million dollars for you?”
    God: “Like a penny.”
    Man: “Then, could you lend me a penny?”
    God: “In a minute…”

  • Gord

    God: “In a minute or two.”

    God: “Oh, there is interest as well. You must perform at least one good, unselfish deed for someone else, every day.”

  • Gord

    In the final reckoning.

    God: “I was expecting to see a list of millions of good deeds you had performed for others.”
    Man: “I was only alive for a few thousands of days.”
    God: “So?”

  • Mandy Dodd

    A shame he has gone, I despise everything he stands for, but was hugely enjoying watching this car crash this season.
    I bet the players will improve and quickly under Hiddink.

  • austinpaul

    Morinnho was everytin but a ‘manager’; to me he never displayed enough intellect nd acumen as a coach of repute,his egoistic self centeredness nd win win mentality plus his penchant for putting down everyone else bt himself was an assured harbinger of disgrace wich he has now reaped witout sympathy.players play for their coaches nd dey inturn protect nd take responsibility for their teams on nd off d pitch; Jose is so engrossed in himself perhaps living out his appelation-D SpecialOne; whereas he is a bunch of emptiness who is envious of d accomplishment of odas dat he can neva attain hence his preoccupation of badmouthing great archievers like Wenger who is many light yrs ahead of him;now d real Jose has bin unveiled, like someone commented, d chicken. Has come home to roost; henceforth, Jose will b a disaster to any club dat employs him bcos dis is d beginning of d end of his coaching/managerial career, no player will want to play under him frm now on unless he amends his cantakerous ways,nd dat is difficult for a man over 50;if I were him. I wuld switch to a new career line!