Sack me, but I won't quit: Mourinho

Jose Mourinho instructing his players during the loss to Southampton.
Jose Mourinho instructing his players during the loss to Southampton. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has publicly challenged Roman Abramovich to sack him, stressing that he has no intention of resigning after his team slumped to their fourth Premier League defeat of the campaign on Saturday - 1-3 to Southampton.

The defending champions were humiliated by an impressive Saints side and, languishing in 16th place, have now endured their worst start to a season in 37 years.

The Portuguese conceded it would now be "very difficult" to retain the title. And he is likely to be charged and fined by the Football Association after suggesting referees "are afraid to give decisions to Chelsea", having been exasperated especially by Robert Madley's failure to award a penalty to Radamel Falcao with the score at 1-1.

The visitors had their own legitimate calls for a penalty. But goals from open play via Steven Davis, Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle were enough to secure a famous comeback victory following Willians' opener.

  • DAMNING STATISTICS

  • 0

    Chelsea did not register a shot on target in the second half against Southampton on Saturday.


    1-3

    Jose Mourinho - in his 102nd home match as Chelsea manager - suffered his worst home defeat in the EPL.


    2

    Chelsea have kept just two clean sheets in 12 matches in all competitions this season.


    3

    The Blues have two losses in their last three home league matches. Mourinho had lost just once at Stamford Bridge in his first 99 Premier League matches.


    7

    Chelsea have conceded two or more goals in 7 of their last 8 league matches. That happened only six times last term.


    8

    The Blues have eight points from eight games. No team have finished higher than fifth in the Premier League after such a start. The average finish is 14th.


    17

    They have conceded more goals this season than they did in the entire first season under Mourinho in 2004-05 (15).


    37

    The last time Chelsea started a season this poorly was 37 years ago - they were relegated in the 1978-79 season.

Going into the clash, Southampton had won just once at Stamford Bridge in the last 20 years. After it, Mourinho immediately quashed speculation over his own future at the ground.

"I do not run away," he said. "No way I resign. No way. If the club want to sack me, they have to sack me because I am not running away from my responsibility. Why? Because Chelsea cannot have a better manager than me."

Since he was sacked by the club in 2007, his five full-time successors have all been dismissed.

"This is a crucial moment in the history of this club. Do you know why? Because if the club sack me, they sack the best manager this club ever had," added the Portuguese, who has delivered three league titles, three League Cups and an FA Cup over two spells.

Chelsea owner Abramovich was at Stamford Bridge to witness the team's second home loss of the term. But Mourinho has had no indication as yet that the faith that had earned the manager a new four-year contract this summer has been eroded.

"I have no signs that anything changes," he said. "But you know the history of this club - every time the results are not good, there has been a change of manager. The power is always, in the end, with the owner and the board. But when I was contacted to come back, I was told, 'We had so many managers, and we know you are the best.' So I think it's time for the club to act in a different way, to mark a position of stability, a position of trust."

He stressed that Chelsea can still qualify for the Champions League - which would be an unprecedented achievement based on their current position. But he acknowledged that retaining the league title "would be very, very difficult".

His criticism of the referee, notably over Maarten Stekelenburg's challenge on Falcao, who was booked for diving, are sure to draw scrutiny from the FA.

"When you are so down it is time to be honest and say, clearly, referees are afraid to give decisions to Chelsea. At 1-1, there is a huge penalty and, once more, we do not get it," said Mourinho.

It remains to be seen if the manager's seven-minute monologue to Sky Sports after being questioned about the latest setback was a move to deflect attention away from his side.

What is clear to pundits like Jamie Redknapp and Alan Shearer is that Mourinho has lost the dressing room. Key players such as Eden Hazard, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and John Terry have yet to show up for their manager and Redknapp believes that is a bad sign.

"Those players, if they're behind Jose Mourinho, they're doing a bad job of showing it because there wasn't a tackle made," Redknapp said on Sky Sports.

BBC pundit Shearer agreed. "I think there are major problems," he said on Match of the Day. "The players are not responding to him."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2015, with the headline 'Sack me, but I won't quit: Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe