Get over it Chelsea fans: Support for Mourinho must stop if Hiddink is to turn things around

The Stamford Bridge faithful chanted in support of the manager, who was fired Thursday, but they must now move on with Guus Hiddink at the helm, writes Eliot Rothwell.
The post-Jose Mourinho era at Chelsea began with a smooth performance on the pitch but turbulence in the stands.

A comfortable 3-1 win over a lackluster Sunderland side gave Chelsea the three points that the Portuguese manager had recently been unable to provide, but the Stamford Bridge faithful were not satisfied. The fans continually joined in unison to pay homage to their recently sacked manager, chanting his name after each goal and rising to their feet with the call of "stand up for the Special One."

This is a club divided. The players are evidently reinvigorated by the departure of a boss who many of them had difficulties with, but the fans are clearly not ready to say goodbye to their most successful manager of the Premier League era.

The scars between the club and the fans appear to run deep, with both Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas booed as their names were announced on the team sheet, and the Spain striker's second-half withdrawal greeted by more chants for the Portuguese coach.


Now, though, with Guus Hiddink's temporary tenure announced before kickoff, the disaffected fans must move one. Mourinho will not be coming back to Stamford Bridge and the club must now, as Hiddink indicated in his opening statement as manager, steady the ship and begin to climb back toward the pinnacle of English football.

"Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world but is not where it should be at the moment," the Dutch manager indicated. "However, I am sure we can all turn this season around." Now it is time to begin that turnaround and Saturday's win is the first tentative step to ensuring that this simply disastrous 2015-16 season does not end how it began.

Mourinho's relationship with many of his players was beyond breaking point. The calls of betrayal from the players after the 2-1 defeat to Leicester City on Monday illustrated a manager that had lost all ability to turn things around.

The season began with Mourinho testing the club's owner, berating Roman Abramovich's history of hiring and firing. Previously, there had been swipes at the lack of noise provided by the fans and a number of digs at Eden Hazard, but the charges of betrayal proved too far, with Mourinho unable to continue working with players he had openly castigated.

Sitting in the directors' box alongside Abramovich and guest Didier Drogba, Hiddink cast a markedly contrasting figure to the divisive Mourinho. While the Portuguese manager feeds on hostility, attempting to portray an atmosphere of injustice imposed on the club from outside, the former Netherlands coach is a calmer operator. At a time when relations are so fractured, the steadying influence of Hiddink may be able to bandage some of the wounds that have opened up at Stamford Bridge.

The banners and chants for Mourinho remain but the manager does not. Many of Chelsea's players looked reinvigorated by his departure and now the fans must also recalibrate their affections to see the club through the post-Mourinho era. There is little, if any chance, of there being a third coming of the Special One.

Mourinho goes down in history as Chelsea's best manager, but he is now removed from the club's present. He will move on swiftly, as a statement released by the CAA Agency indicated Saturday, and Chelsea fans must follow suit.