Fergie: Keep Mourinho even if Chelsea loses
JOSE Mourinho's job could be on the line when Chelsea host Porto in the Champions League today and Alex Ferguson has urged the London football side not to jettison their manager even if the result goes against them.
Woefully out-of-form Chelsea have already lost 11 matches in all competitions this season but need only a draw with Porto to qualify for the knockout stages.
Former Manchester United great Ferguson said Russian owner Roman Abramovich must ignore the criticism the club are receiving and keep faith in Mourinho.
"He has sacked so many coaches in the last 10 years that I am sure he has learnt by it," Ferguson was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph. "He has to trust and have confidence Jose can turn it around.
"There is no point in sacking one of the best coaches of all time - he's won the European Cup twice, he's won the league in each country he's managed in, he's won the big trophies. It would be foolish to take that step to sack him. That would be bad management."
Defeat today and a consequent drop into the Europa League for Chelsea would certainly test Abramovich's patience.
The owner reportedly held talks with his closest Chelsea aides, Marina Granovskaia and Michael Emenalo, over the weekend and the Russian told Mourinho he must lead the team into the last 16 of the Champions League to avoid the axe.
Chelsea need only a draw at Stamford Bridge in their final Group G fixture to be certain of a place in the knockout stages. But, what in previous years would have been a forgone conclusion for a team managed by Mourinho, now looks a decidedly more taxing task.
Once virtually unbeatable at the Bridge under Mourinho, Chelsea have lost four times on home turf this season. And Porto, who need a win to be sure of progressing, are unlikely to prove a pushover after beating Chelsea in Portugal earlier this season.
With Dynamo Kiev expected to win at home to Maccabi Tel Aviv, who have lost all five group matches so far, a draw for Porto would eliminate the Portuguese side unless Kiev fail to win. So, they are bound to go all out for a win.
It would be the ultimate irony if the Portuguese club where Mourinho made his name by winning the 2003 Uefa Cup and 2004 Champions League deliver the final blow that ends his second spell with Chelsea.
Mourinho admits he can take nothing for granted. "It's a knockout game," he told Chelsea TV. "Chelsea or Porto, one will be out. For sure, a big game."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE