Despite recent mutterings of support for their under-performing manager, the sense that something will soon give for Chelsea resurfaces Saturday night after the club fell to their eighth league defeat of the season – to Premier League newcomers Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge.
The defeat, which was their fourth home defeat this season, also marked the first time Chelsea will lose to a team newly-promoted to the Premier League since 2001 and for the first time since the Roman Abramovich era began.
Abramovich – as well as key directors Marina Granovskaia, and Michael Emenalo were in attendance – and he was seen with his head in his hands as Chelsea mounted a late onslaught in vain.
And the drama was further heightened by the unrelenting victory managed by unfancied Leicester City – managed by Claudio Ranieri, who was the first managerial casualty of the Abramovich era at Chelsea, who went top of the league after defeating Swansea 3-0.
When Mourinho was asked whether he believed he still had the confidence of the club’s board, who last issued a statement in support of him after the defeat to Southampton in early October, he said that he did.
The club said then that results must improve but they have lost just as many league games, four, since then as they had done prior to the statement and now find themselves three points above the relegation zone.
Mourinho said that the situation had become so grave that he could no longer set a target of the top four, saying instead that the top six might be more realistic.
He said that referee Mike Jones should have disallowed Glenn Murray’s goal for offside, scored 99 seconds after he came on as substitute, and that Chelsea should have been awarded a penalty.
Mourinho said: “I am concerned, of course. There is no chance that Chelsea will be fighting relegation. That is not the problem. It is that our objective is to finish top four. Before this game it was realistic to think that our quality would take us out of this position, but maybe now we have to think about top six.
“If our players are not able to give the maximum every day that is a problem. If you analyse match after match there are a few players where it is difficult to be consistent. You think there is evolution, but maybe it is just one moment in which they are good.
“I feel that we don’t have the right to ask the club for players. I don’t think so. We started the season with this squad. We have to do better. The players have to do better. And it’s more about the players having to do better than the club to go to the market.
“I think people must feel responsibilities. I think the club is the club. We all are the club.
“The owner, the board … they are not responsible for the bad moment. The responsibility of the bad moment is mine and the players.”
Howe was delighted with the win, which took his side out of the bottom three.
“I thought we were magnificent,” said Howe. “There were question marks about our defending, but we have answered those questions today.”