Defeat against Porto could spell the end for Mourinho
LONDON: The heat in the Chelsea kitchen is rising once again and it could become too suffocating for Jose Mourinho to continue if his team go out of the Champions League this week.
The Londoners need only a home draw against Mourinho's old club Porto on Wednesday to reach the knockout stages and, if recent Stamford Bridge displays are anything to go by, the fans face a jittery 90 minutes perched on the edges of their seats.
Remarkably, the Premier League champions have already lost 11 games in all competitions this season, including four at home, and it seems almost inconceivable that their outspoken manager could survive yet another defeat against Porto.
Mourinho has tried every trick in the book in a bid to cajole an improvement from his squad, even briefly leaving out talismen John Terry and Eden Hazard, without any lasting effect.
Midfield linchpin Nemanja Matic summed up the immediate task facing his team mates and the coaching staff.
"We are in a difficult moment and it is going to be hard to come back from this but we have to try to resolve this situation," the Serbian international told Chelsea TV.
"I think we didn't deserve to lose the game," said Matic after Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by fellow strugglers Bournemouth, "but when you don't score a goal, you also don't deserve to win".
Chelsea had offered false hopes of a revival before the game against Bournemouth, registering three straight clean sheets with a 1-0 home victory against Norwich City, a 4-0 win at Maccabi Tel Aviv and a 0-0 draw at high-flying Tottenham Hotspur.
The main problem this season, though, has been a complete lack of firepower in attack.
OUT OF FAVOUR
Diego Costa is a shadow of the player who tormented defences 12 months ago and fellow striker Loic Remy seems to be totally out of favour with Mourinho.
Chelsea's gamble to sign Radamel Falcao on loan from Monaco, following the Colombian's poor season at Manchester United, has also backfired spectacularly.
The second-half performance against Bournemouth typified the London club's glaring defiencies as scoring chance after scoring chance went begging.
A string of crosses were delivered into the heart of the penalty box but, more often than not, visiting keeper Artur Boruc was able to watch the ball sail harmlessly to safety because no Chelsea player was on hand in the danger zone.
Eight days ago the axed Costa tossed his bib angrily into the air when he realised he would not be brought on from the bench at Tottenham.
The brooding Spain striker had the perfect opportunity to prove a point to Mourinho after being called on as a halftime substitute against Bournemouth but, not for the first time this season, he turned out to be a peripheral figure.
"We are not scoring enough goals," said Mourinho. "It's difficult for us to score goals.
"Scoring goals is a lot about individuals. The creation is collective but the finishing is something very individual and at this moment we're not having that."
Mourinho said he believed he still had the support of the club's owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich who gave the manager a public vote of confidence in October.
The Portuguese, though, questioned whether some of his players shared his determination to turn things around.
"I only know one way which is to work and give my maximum every day and if some players are not capable of that, giving the maximum day by day, match by match, the collective pays for that," said Mourinho.