He is gone! All the speculation, all the debating, pondering, assessing and hypothesizing can cease; Jose Mourinho has been sacked and he is never coming back, at least not in his Chelsea manager capacity. After a nearly unmitigated season of failure the Chelsea hierarchy have finally bitten the bullet and fired the greatest manager in the history of the club, and one of the finest in the history of the game, a legend.
You wonder, despite all the league titles, all the cups won, the 2 Champions League successes, all the quips and all the charisma, did Jose Mourinho have the mental composition to summon the strength required to pull Chelsea from the mire in which they entrenched themselves. It is a debate that will rage on for most Chelsea fans.
It has been said, online as well as on 5live, that the man ready to take charge at the club is former Spurs manager Juande Ramos. Carrying a tarnished reputation after a relatively poor spell at White Hart Lane, Ramos may be seen as an odd choice, yet, the Spaniard still in contention due to an excellent personal and professional relationship with Michael Emenalo, the clubs technical director and more importantly a man whose opinion is held in high regard by owner Roman Abramovic. With a managerial CV sporting the names of Dnipro, Sevilla (with whom he won 2 Uefa cups), Spurs and Real Madrid, Ramos is not the incompetent boob he is often caricatured as in this country.
Alternately Abramovic may opt to rehire Guus Hiddink, a man who was incredibly successful fulfilling the managerial hotseat in similar circumstances in 2009.
Things are feeling a little more festive for opponents Sunderland, how can you tell? Because there is a rotund chap up north, wearing a suit, who is about to accept a whole load of credit.
After a largely dismal time under predecessor; Dick Advocaat, Allardyce has entered the frame and everything has gone about as predictably as you could expect. The Black Cats have become more resilient defensively ( a thumping at Goodison Park aside), picked up a steady supply of points and “Big Sam’s” Cheshire grin has at times looked tattooed on. Perhaps the only surprise is the exploitation of a 3-5-2 formation. A rarity in British football, Sam has figured it the best way to utilised Jermaine Defoe in a striking partnership, whilst maintaining a semblance of defensive solidity.
This change has reinvigorated a number of players; Patrick van Aanholt looks far more composed in the left wing-back role having shown the same level of comprehension to the more traditional left-back role as I could in the field of thermo-nuclear dynamics. Younes Kaboul too has transformed from a defender of almost slapstick, comical ineptitude to the defender with almost a decade of Premier League experience he is.
Whoever does take Chelsea for Saturday’s fixture will have more or less a full squad to select from will late fitness tests awaiting Hazard, Cahill, Pedro and Baba Rahman.
Sam Allardyce will have to do without the set piece efficiency of Sebastian Larsson or the engine room volatility that Lee Catermole offers. Towering centre-half Seb Coates will also miss out.
Forget the circus that surrounds this game, forget the statures of the clubs involved, forget the successes of day’s gone bye and remember that Saturday’s game is in fact a relegation 6 pointer. Who would have thought that at the start of the season?