LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea finished eight points clear of their nearest rivals at the top of the Premier League last season but the champions have suffered a complete collapse this term, lying sixth from bottom with 11 points from 11 matches.
Reuters has asked four Stamford Bridge stalwarts from the past two questions: What has gone so wrong this season?, and, what do Chelsea need to do to put things right?
What has gone wrong at Chelsea?
Chelsea’s second highest all-time scorer (202 goals)
”There are so many players not playing to their form and that can only be down to one of two things, either they were not fit at the start of the season or there is a problem in the dressing room.
”(Manager) Jose Mourinho’s father has also been very ill and I just wonder whether all these trips he’s making backwards and forwards to Portugal are wearing him out.
”His backup team, and he’s got about five or six of them, should be putting forward their ideas, telling him when he’s wrong, if they’re any good at their jobs.
“Chelsea have lost a lot of leaders in the dressing room, Petr Cech, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba. John Terry will still be a strong voice in there though, he’s that sort of character.”
ALAN HUDSON (1968-74 and 1983-84)
England midfielder who played 189 times for Chelsea
”It seems like there’s something terribly wrong behind the scenes. My son is a Chelsea fan and he backed them to lose before Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Liverpool and backed them again when Chelsea went 1-0 up because he knew Mourinho would not go forward and try to get a second goal.
”That’s the way he beat Arsenal earlier in the season, he went 1-0 up and got everyone back behind the ball because he knew Arsenal wouldn’t break them down.
”People pay good money to go and watch football these days and they don’t want to see their team go 1-0 up and just sit on the lead. I feel for the fans, I really do, but I wouldn’t watch that.
“I don’t like managers who earn all that money and play negative football. Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United in his last season, that’s why he packed it in I think. He saw the writing on the wall, he’d built three teams and didn’t have time in his life to build a fourth.”
Former Chelsea manager
”Mourinho’s got an impossible act to follow, himself, with the success he’s brought to the club in the two spells he’s spent there.
”Obviously there’s something going on in the background that we don’t know about but players drive you mad. That’s the thing that annoys me.
”We read about players moaning but players are always moaning and groaning when they don’t get picked.
”When they’re in the team, they’re happy, but when they’re not it’s ‘the tactics are wrong, the training is wrong, the manager is wrong, we work too hard’. They always blame the manager.
“Also when teams go to Stamford Bridge they’re playing the champions so it’s like a cup final for them. They work and run twice as hard as they would normally.”
Defender who has made most appearances for Chelsea (795)
”Some of the vital players are not playing to their potential. Over a period of time Chelsea were strong defensively but at the moment they’re leaking goals and when you leak goals you don’t win matches.
”If you look at the players who have been playing at the back, none of them could turn round and say they’ve had a good start to the season.
“Whether it’s Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry or Gary Cahill, they don’t seem to be performing the way they were last season.”
What do Chelsea need to do to put things right?
”There’s two things they can do. Have a meeting with the club’s hierarchy, not just Jose but with the players as well, to see what the feeling is and try to get to the core of the problems.
”The club needs someone in there like (chairman) Bruce Buck, he’s a diplomat and he could say, ‘lads, come on, what’s the problem?, let’s get it sorted out, we’ve all got to pull together, this is our future’.
“There’s no one who could replace Jose who is anywhere near as good as him. Perhaps he’s under pressure worrying about his father and maybe the club can help him that way.”
”When they bought Pedro from Barcelona at the start of the season I thought it would give Chelsea more width, with him on one side and Eden Hazard on the other, and they would open their game out a bit.
”They play through the middle too much and rely on Diego Costa up front too much. Costa, in my opinion, is nowhere near as good as people make him out to be.
”I think they need a facelift. You can’t carry on with players like John Obi Mikel, you need better players than that in midfield.
“They need a clearout of players. Branislav Ivanovic has been tremendous for them but he seems to have hit a brick wall at right back.”
”Jose’s the best manager they’ve ever had and I think they should stick with him and Chelsea have got the money to buy the players they want.
”I watch them quite a lot on TV, I‘m a fanatical Chelsea supporter. Ok, if Jose was made of chocolate he’d probably eat himself. He’s in love with himself but he has produced the goods in the past.
”They’ve hit a bad patch but they’ll hit a good spell. You need to have two very good spells in a season to win the league, if you have just one you’ll finish in mid-table.
”Chelsea are a great club when it comes to loyalty. For the last 18 years they’ve sent me a 250 pounds ($385) hamper from Harrods every Christmas and I didn’t do anything near as much for the club as Jose has done.
“But I do think there are too many foreign players in the English game today and the kids from the academies are not getting a chance. Not just Mourinho, all the clubs need to give the young ones an opportunity to prove themselves.”
”I think if they could get a couple of good results against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday and Stoke City on Saturday, hopefully they will turn the corner. If not, there is going to be a load of flak coming.
”The supporters are 100 percent behind Jose at the moment but supporters are very fickle in my experience.
“Winning and losing becomes a habit. If you are winning everyone wants the ball, when you start not playing particularly well and the results aren’t coming, players tend to play for themselves rather than the team because they don’t want to be left out.”
($1 = 0.6490 pounds)
Editing by Toby Davis