Chelsea have publicly backed under-fire manager Jose Mourinho to turn around their troubled start to the season but have warned that he will have to do so without a spending spree in January.
Mourinho has found his future scrutinised just months after leading the Blues to the Premier League title, having begun their defence by mustering a meagre eight points from eight games.
He appeared to challenge the club’s board to sack him on Saturday, in a seven-minute monologue during a television interview following the 3-1 defeat at home to Southampton.
Chelsea chiefs yesterday took the unfamiliar step of issuing a public reaffirming of faith in their manager, albeit laced with a warning that results needed to improve.
The statement also made clear that owner Roman Abramovich believes Mourinho should not need to draw on further funds during the next transfer window to engineer that upturn.
“The club wants to make it clear that Jose continues to have our full support,” Chelsea said. “As Jose has said himself, results have not been good enough and the team’s performances must improve. However, we believe that we have the right manager to turn this season around and that he has the squad with which to do it.”
Mourinho has bolstered his squad during the January transfer window in each of the two seasons since he returned to the west London club for a second spell in charge.
In 2014 he spent around £35m on midfielder Nemanja Matic from Benfica, winger Mohamed Salah from Basel and defender Kurt Zouma from St Etienne, although that was more than offset by the sales of £37m Juan Mata to Manchester United and £18m Kevin de Bruyne to Wolfsburg.
This year Mourinho spent £25m on Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado, an outlay largely recouped by the sale of Andre Schurrle to Wolfsburg. If he is to recruit again in January then the message appears to be that he will again have to sell as well.
Mourinho’s troubles mounted yesterday when he charged with misconduct by the Football Association for his criticism of match officials after Saturday’s defeat to the Saints.
The Portuguese complained that referees were “afraid” to award penalties to Chelsea, and insisted Blues striker Falcao should have been awarded a spot-kick during the match.
He added: “I think this is a crucial moment in the history of this club because if the club sacks me, they sack the best manager this club had and the message is bad results and the manager is guilty.”