creating_historyMaking history, Not reliving it (September 2007)
Unbeaten yet unconvincing in August, the wheels came off spectacularly for both José Mourinho and his team in September. The month began in the worst possible fashion for Chelsea, as they slipped to a tame defeat at Aston Villa on the same weekend that Manchester United returned to winning ways, and both Arsenal and Liverpool also cantered to victory. Although the result was disappointing, it was the manner of the defeat and the unusually disjointed team performance which raised the most concern, particularly as the media frenzy around Mourinho and his current relationship with Roman Abramovich and the Board had re-ignited. According to reports, Abramovich was so upset at the events that were taking place on the pitch, he stormed out of the ground before the final whistle.

Two more points were dropped in a goalless draw at home to Blackburn, although the good fortune received with the recent penalty award at Liverpool was reversed when Salomon Kalou’s perfectly legitimate late strike was ruled out by an errant linesman’s flag. Wins on the same weekend for both Manchester clubs and Arsenal, allied to Liverpool securing a point in a draw at Portsmouth, saw Chelsea slide down to fifth place in the Premier League, ten points from the first four games suddenly becoming a less flattering eleven from six.

The Blues began their Champions League campaign with a visit from Norwegian champions Rosenborg. With speculation of a major rift behind the scenes, and supporters boycotting the unattractive-looking fixture in protest at the ticket prices, all was clearly not well at Stamford Bridge. On a somewhat chilly mid-September evening, the visitors seized their opportunity to rub salt in the increasingly open wounds of Chelsea Football Club, and took a first-half lead with a soft goal from a set-piece, mirroring the way in which Aston Villa had also opened the scoring in their recent clash with the Blues. Serious embarrassment was averted by an Andriy Shevchenko header after the break which gave Mourinho’s men a share of the spoils, and although the Norwegians had to rely on a few moments of good fortune to protect their point, it was evident that some of the stardust which the Portuguese chief had sprinkled over Stamford Bridge throughout the past three seasons was suddenly in short supply.

The following day, José Mourinho, along with his first team squad, attended a viewing of ‘Blue Revolution’ at The Vue Cinema at Fulham Broadway, an American sponsored film that chronicled the three years that he had been Chelsea manager. As soon as the film had finished and the manager and players departed, the news that Mourinho and Chelsea had parted company began to reach the media. Within hours, the press and sports related television and radio stations were in meltdown.

José Mourinho, the most successful manager in the history of Chelsea Football Club, architect of back-to-back Premier League titles in his first two seasons in charge and a domestic Cup double in what was a tumultuous, injury-ravaged third campaign, parted company with the Blues the day after the Rosenborg match. In a surprisingly honest statement to supporters, chairman Bruce Buck admitted that the parting was as a result of a breakdown in the relationship between Mourinho and
the Board, including Roman Abramovich. In an emotional missive, Buck also stated that all supporters of the club, including the Board, wished Mourinho and his entire family best wishes for the future and stressed that they would always be made welcome on their return to Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho’s successor in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat was named within hours of the announcement of the previous incumbent’s departure. Avram Grant, the unknown Director of Football brought in during the summer to apparently oversee all footballing matters, was suddenly catapulted into the post of manager of one of Europe’s top clubs.

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