Fans turn on players as Chelsea wins after Mourinho firing
LONDON: Another post-Jose Mourinho era began at Chelsea with the players enraging some of their own fans inside Stamford Bridge.
By winning with ease.
Two days after being fired for Chelsea's feeble English Premier League title defense and "palpable discord" with his squad, Mourinho's name was chanted throughout the 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday.
Blame was clearly not being apportioned to Mourinho for the nine losses in 16 league games before Saturday.
Each goal that ended a three-game winless run in the league and lifted Chelsea four points above the relegation zone only seemed to make the atmosphere more toxic as Mourinho's name — not the scorer's — was sung.
"Absolutely and rightly so as well," captain John Terry said when asked about the discontent. "They will support us through the difficult period and when we come out on top sooner or later. If we keep on putting performances like that the fans will be happy."
Branislav Ivanovic took only five minutes to head Chelsea in front, Pedro Rodriguez doubled the lead in the 13th minute, and Oscar scored a penalty soon after halftime.
"Where were you when you were (expletive)?" Chelsea fans chanted at their players as the goals flowed.
After Fabio Borini pulled one back for Sunderland, Chelsea survived scares before registering its biggest league win since defeating Arsenal 2-0 three months ago.
"There was a lot of pressure on us before the game but we brought it on ourselves," Terry said. "Some of the football was excellent, one and two touch ... it dropped off slightly in the second half but we were delighted."
The next game against Watford next weekend will see the start of Guus Hiddink's second spell in charge. The 69-year-old Dutchman was hired on Saturday to repeat the firefighting role he first carried out in 2009 at Chelsea.
But as Hiddink watched from high in the stands with owner Roman Abramovich and former striker Didier Drogba, his name was not sung once by fans. Only Mourinho's.
The tone for the day was set by Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas being booed as the starting lineup was read out before the match. A fan banner also accused the Spaniards and Eden Hazard of being "rats".
"You let Jose down," another banner read. "You let us down."
Though some stars are blamed for Mourinho's second spell in charge being abruptly ended only seven months after winning the title by eight points, Terry denied in the match-day program that "player power" forced him out.
But Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce highlighted the quandary for Chelsea players within minutes of Mourinho's firing on Thursday.
"It's a pretty bad indictment on the players if they actually go and perform a lot, lot better than they have done recently just 'cause Jose's lost his job," Allardyce said.
There was no doubt Chelsea rediscovered the swagger and confidence of old at times. It's harder to say if firing Chelsea's most successful manager was the reason.