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Jose Mourinho has already lost something bigger than his job

Chelsea slumped to another miserable defeat, and Jose Mourinho's job prospects took another blow. But if the poor form continues, will the Chelsea manager lose more than just his job?

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Another weekend, another Chelsea loss. And while Liverpool were pretty good and certainly deserved their 3-1 win, not even the presence of Jürgen Klopp could detract from the main event: Jose Mourinho, once again, left looking nonplussed as his team fell apart in front of his eyes.

Though we are of course guessing, it certainly looks as though Mourinho has lost the Chelsea dressing room. And not just in the usual "oh dear, everybody's a bit unhappy" sort of way that most managers have to contend with from time to time. Mourinho appears to have lost the dressing room, sworn bloody revenge on the dressing room, found the dressing room again, burned it to the ground, salted the earth and mounted the severed and defaced heads of everybody in the dressing room on spikes as a warning to any other dressing rooms that might even be thinking about losing themselves. Perhaps that's why they look so static in defense.

Anyway, in the aftermath of the defeat there emerged further evidence for this dressing room misplacement. An apparently well-sourced, apparently credible report from the BBC cites one Chelsea player saying they would "rather lose than win for Mourinho." Worrying stuff for Chelsea fans. Highly entertaining stuff for the rest of us, particularly since the list of possible mutineers is quite an extensive one. After some consideration, we've gone with "Probably not Falcao."

No manager can survive too much of that for too long, and it's even being suggested that the decision has been made and he'll be gone after Sunday's game against Stoke. Even if that's wide of the mark, however, just the scale of the task in hand suggests that he might not be in charge next season. It generally takes around 70 points to finish in fourth place in the Premier League and so qualify for the Champions League. So far, from 11 games, Chelsea have 11 points. Of the 27 games remaining, then, they need to win around 15 or 16 at the bare minimum. So far, they've won three from 11. Perhaps their only route back into the biggest cup will be to win the thing.

They will not win the thing.

But whether he's imminently doomed, or gets the whole season to try and patch things up, this crisis has shown the world something that we've never seen before, namely Mourinho's methods being entirely and publicly exposed. Though his isn't a flawless record -- he has, after all, been sacked by Chelsea once before, and things didn't exactly end pleasantly at Real Madrid -- this is perhaps the first time when he's looked not just flawed but almost helpless. Of the two parties involved here, Chelsea and Mourinho, by far the most interesting question is what happens to the manager.

Chelsea, after all, will do what all big clubs do in this situation. They'll appoint a new manager, buy some more players, and the invisible hand of economic predestination will return them to somewhere near the top of the table. Hooray for sport!

If he leaves, though, then Mourinho will leave as profoundly damaged goods. Yes, he won the title last season, but in a strange sort of way that makes this season's implosion all the more peculiar. This isn't a man struggling to get the best out of an imperfect team. This was the best team in the country just a few months ago. Now they are worse than Watford. And while it's been reported that Mourinho wanted to see some strong reinforcement over the summer, only to be overruled at boardroom level, we can probably assume that he didn't go full Cassandra, and prophesy a plummet to 15th if they didn't pick up another right back.

Mourinho left Chelsea the first time with the sense that he'd had players imposed on him that didn't suit his system. He left Real Madrid with the dressing room in pieces, but then the Real Madrid dressing room is perhaps the most volatile entity in football, and he lasted longer in that job than any other manager since Vicente del Bosque. Not ideal and certainly not in any sense good, but equally, not fatal to the idea of Jose Mourinho.

This time around, though, he looks damaged. Worse, he looks pointless. The purpose of Jose Mourinho is that he's at best abrasive, at worst a total asshole, but that he takes his team with him. His enemies become theirs, and they all hunker down together, like those moments when Roman armies would get a bit bored when butchering their enemies and pretend to be a turtle. All shields overlapping. Totally impregnable.

But if they don't go with him -- if he shouts "testudo!" and half the squad shouts back "nah, you're alright" -- then it's a mess. John Terry can't (or possibly won't) get his shield up any more. Branislav Ivanovic has accidentally stabbed himself in the foot. Eden Hazard has taken his helmet off and is casually chatting to the enemy. There's always been the suspicion that this kind of collapse comes along after three seasons or so, and Mourinho was visibly irritated to be asked about this possibility earlier in this campaign. But never this spectacularly. Never this amusingly. Never this badly.

We already know that several of the world's superclubs are generally disinclined towards him. Barcelona apparently decided that he was too explosive for their carefully curated image. While there are several contradictory accounts of how Manchester United ended up with David Moyes when even their own squad expected Mourinho to come, it's been reported that a few of United's suits didn't fancy the cut of the Portuguese's jib. He probably won't be offered a return to Real Madrid, he's not going to be turning up at Arsenal any time soon and it's hard to see him slotting into Manchester City's holistic vision.

You'd assume that it would take more than one completely disastrous season to leave Mourinho's reputation truly damaged, and if he left Chelsea this very minute he wouldn't struggle for work. Even given his recent disappointments in the Champions League, PSG would surely be amenable, and Portugal would probably take him, too.

But it's reasonable to wonder if this season might do some permanent damage to Mourinho's aura, and then to extend that thought into something more troubling. What on earth would an aura-less Mourinho look like? A vulnerable Mourinho? Could that even work?

So much of what he does is built around his ability to make players believe that they, and he, are fighting a righteous war against the rest of the world, and for that to work, everybody needs to buy into it, all the time. Few managers are as forceful in projecting their personality onto their team. Perhaps, then, few managers are quite so reliant on that personality being unquestionably that of a winner.

Whether Mourinho keeps his job is the immediate question. But in the long run, the real question is whether the idea of Jose Mourinho can withstand such spectacular damage. At this point nobody, least of all footballers, has any reason to assume that he always knows best.


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