Liverpool lie in wait for beleaguered Mourinho and Chelsea
Liverpool would love to put final nail in Mourinho's coffin after being denied title two seasons ago
(Jonathan Walters 52)
(Loic Remy 90+1)
l After extra-time, Stoke win 5-4 on penalties
Chelsea sought respite, but found yet more torture.
Stoke City were the latest team to add to the Blues' misery yesterday morning (Singapore time), handing them a 5-4 penalty shoot-out defeat after their League Cup fourth-round fixture had ended 1-1 in extra-time.
A defiant Jose Mourinho said after the game that he needed no reassurances about his future.
All that could change this Saturday.
Two seasons ago, the Portuguese ended Liverpool's hopes of clinching a first league title since 1990 by leading his side to a 2-0 win at Anfield.
Come Saturday, the Merseyside club have the chance to land the knock-out blow to Mourinho's Chelsea career, in his own backyard.
Win or lose, Mourinho's fate might have already been sealed.
If the knives are already being sharpened, they are being done in the dark of the night.
The club have not issued him an ultimatum to avoid defeat by Liverpool, at least not officially, even as the crisis deepens.
But, considering the shambles now as compared to the milder circumstances when he was asked to leave the club eight years ago in his first stint, there is no way trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich can tolerate the spectacular free-fall for much longer.
It's seven losses in 16 matches in all competitions now for the Blues, eight if you consider yesterday's shoot-out disappointment as a defeat.
They are 15th in the Premiership standings, and third - behind Porto and Dynamo Kiev - in Group G at the halfway mark of the Champions League group phase.
Despite Loic Remy's injury-time equaliser to cancel out Jonathan Walters' opener, and playing against 10 men for the entire period of extra-time at the Britannia Stadium yesterday, they could not find a winner in the League Cup match.
As it turned out, Eden Hazard, who reportedly couldn't see eye-to-eye with Mourinho, missed the decisive final spot-kick.
Reports of the Special One losing the dressing room have surfaced for a while now.
It is why the media have already begun shortlisting potential successors.
The attention on Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola, rumoured to be in the running to take over at the end of the season, has irked the Spaniard so much that he recently said that he "can't be bothered" to answer questions on whether the Premier League will be his next port of call.
Former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone are the other two suggested candidates, while Mourinho is also linked to the Paris Saint-Germain job.
The more Mourinho tries to tell the world that all is fine and dandy, the more ridiculous he is starting to look.
It could all boil down to Saturday.
Liverpool aren't in excellent shape themselves but, by comparison, they are basking in sunshine.
Under new manager Juergen Klopp, the man Liverpool supposedly moved quickly for to replace the sacked Brendan Rodgers in case Chelsea suddenly decided to replace him for Mourinho, the Reds are still looking for their first win following three consecutive draws.
Pundits have noticed how the Reds still suffer from a lack of confidence.
However, Chelsea have bigger problems than that.
Absolutely nothing's going right for them. The harder they tried, the deeper they sank into the quagmire, and the nearer Mourinho got pushed towards the exit at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool fans can already smell poetic justice.
DON’T SACK HIM
You don’t go from being probably the best manager in the world to not being good enough and getting the sack in a matter of 10 games. What chance have you got as a manager if you’ve won everything there is to win and you still get the sack?
— Harry Redknap
Chelsea are collapsing. However, they are still the champions. I think they’ll bounce back.
— Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry
DON’T ASK HIM
We’re in October. We’ll work the next seven months together at this club. Football is about today. We can meet another time and talk about me and my contract.
— Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola (above) on his Chelsea link
Mourinho: I don't need assurances
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho hit out at any suggestion his players were not behind him, after the League Cup loss at Stoke and insisted he was in a "fantastic" situation.
The Blues suffered yet another setback in their disastrous season as they were beaten 5-4 on penalties in the fourth-round tie at the Britannia Stadium, following a 1-1 draw after extra time yesterday morning (Singapore time).
But Mourinho was keen to praise his players' efforts and said in his post-match press conference: "What the players did tonight is face the people that write and say, 'You are stupid'.
"Honestly, do you think they are not with me? That they didn't give everything to win the game?
"That is really sad - not sad for me, but sad for the players, and I think it is a lack of respect to the players, not to me.
"For me, it would be a fantastic situation if the players are against me - I could say we don't have results because the players are against me.
"I think what some people write and say is really bad for the players. They tried everything."
Talk had already been rife before this tie about the sack looming for Mourinho, whose Premier League champions were left 15th in the table by last Saturday's 2-1 loss at West Ham, in which he was sent to the stands.
But the Portuguese - who has subsequently been hit by another charge misconduct charge from the Football Association over events at Upton Park, and had not spoken publicly since then - said following the Stoke contest: "My general situation is fantastic.
"I have a day off tomorrow, a fantastic family. I can sleep well every night. I'm going to enjoy my day and Thursday. It will be one more day like I have had in the last 15 years of my life - honest and dedicated."
Asked if he had had any more reassurances since the weekend about his job, Mourinho said: "I don't need more."
Chelsea's exit was sealed when Eden Hazard's penalty, the last of the shoot-out, was saved by Jack Butland.
Mourinho refused to blame Hazard: "He (Hazard) is our best penalty taker, but the last thing I do is to blame. If I have to blame someone, it is the ones who tell the manager I don't want to take it and run away.
"It is more difficult when you play very bad and lose than when you play well and lose. I think they (Chelsea's players) go with sadness, but with a positive feeling.
"How can they go home with lack of confidence? Lack of confidence, why? They played well."
The 52-year-old added: "In my case, in your eyes, results are everything.
"But it is a bit strange because, when a few months ago I won so many matches and was champion of England, people were saying there were some things more important than the result.
"Now results are more important than anything. It is a contradiction."
- PA Sport.