Before we get to Chelsea, a refresher course in French history.
Exactly 225 years ago today, France's middle and lower classes were reeling from hunger and heavy taxation. Buoyed by Enlightenment principles, fuming commoners took to Parisian streets in search of firearms. Storming the Bastille—a fortified prison—the Third Estate found their stockpile of weapons and freed the prison's inhabitants.
14 July 1789 is widely considered the start of the French Revolution, when King Louis XVI's absolute monarchy met its precipitous, and eventually fatal, collapse.
After publishing The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen on 26 August 1789, France's de facto government—the National Assembly—was slow in giving the people what they wanted, mainly food and less corruption. This lead to shifting power structures.
A radical sect—in the now-governing National Convention—took control of France's First Republic in June of 1793. The dominating political party, known as the Jacobin Club, were particularly ruthless in dealing with their opposition.
Jacobin leadership in the Committee of Public Safety—spearheaded by Maximilien Robespierre—began removing their perceived enemies via a new execution method called the guillotine. Labeled the "Reign of Terror," from June 1793 to July 1794, over 16,000 people were summarily disposed—as explained by Dr. Marisa Linton of Kingston University.
Keeping our theme of overthrows going, the Jacobin Club was eventually ousted. Robespierre and his cohorts were then executed, ironically in the same manner as their enemies, by the guillotine.
Five years passed and the French government continued to frustrate; this provided ambitious general Napoleon Bonaparte an opportunity to dislodge the ruling entity—now called the Directory—in a successful 1799 coup d'etat.
With all we need in the bag, here ends today's history lesson; on to contemporary west London...
While certainly not as drastic or dramatic, Roman Abramovich may well have an aura of Robespierre about him. Chelsea's Russian owner has proven distinctly cutthroat with managers who fail to win his club trophies.
The rolled heads of Claudio Ranieri (2003-04), Avram Grant (2007-08), Luiz Felipe Scolari (2008-09), Carlo Ancelotti (2009-2011), Andre Villas-Boas (2011-12) and Roberto Di Matteo (2012-2013) serve as evidence to this point.
Chelsea's 2013-14 campaign—out of a possible five competitions—did not claim any silverware, leaving current boss Jose Mourinho in a rather precarious state: "Win, else suffer the fate of your predecessors."
Do you approve of Roman Abramovich's managerial carousel?
Some Chelsea managers don't even get a full 12 months.
Villas-Boas struggled in 2012 and was fired after nine-and-a-half months. His replacement, Di Matteo, despite winning the FA Cup and Champions League, found himself unemployed six months later.
It would seem the blade of Abramovich stops at nothing in pursuit of winning. However, even with Chelsea's 2013-14 dry spell, Mourinho may have dodged the first bullet.
Not being sacked after a trophyless season bodes well for the Portuguese boss. There is every possibility Abramovich may have calmed down a touch, having come to this realisation: "In the future, nobody will want to manage my club should I keep firing everyone."
Mourinho possessing one of the world's foremost tactical minds makes the current decision easy—but for how much longer can peace hold?
2013-14 saw amusing analogies, spats with Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini, touchline antics, punditry rows and player criticisms—all idiosyncratic qualities which make Mourinho, well, Mourinho. The only missing items were winner's medals.
First-place pendants make the Portuguese's histrionics and controversy worth the hassle; although, should his reservoir of football magic be empty, Mourinho is certainly working for the wrong individual.
As noted by James Dickenson of the Daily Express, the Chelsea manager's self-proclaimed job last season was "evolutionary." Mourinho told all who would pay attention his team were not good enough to win the Premier League and the season to show their credentials was 2014-15.
Setting the club's expectations at championship levels will appease supporters, players and ownership, but the implementation of these goals will prove extremely difficult in an ever-improving English and European landscape: Arsenal and Manchester United have improved, Manchester City are the champions and, as 2013-14 illuminated: Discount the "bottom" teams at your peril.
As taken from the Mirror's Martin Lipton, Mourinho told the press:
I have no idea, no idea, how long I’d get without a trophy at Chelsea, but I’m not worried about it. I really believe in the work, in the quality of work. I really believe. So I think, sooner or later, a trophy will arrive.
Last season saw marked improvements. Chelsea were in the Premier League title race until the last fortnight and avoided playing in the Europa League and did so without an in-form striker; however, after his season of "evolution," Mourinho's words of silverware must ring true.
Playing the role of judge, jury and executioner cannot be an enjoyable prospect for Abramovich, but neither would be spending millions—even billions—of pounds on a lacklustre product.
Mourinho and Abramovich mutually split after two-and-a-half years with each other in 2007; should the Portuguese fail to win a trophy this year, the Chelsea owner—instead of a pardon—may be forced to release the figurative rope.
In a word: "Yes."
The disappointment of another lost season would not set Abramovich into an uncontrollable panic, but Mourinho's own words have sealed his fate—on the chopping block is apparently where he wants to be.
Any decision to remove the current regime would be fool-hearted, but the situation looks as follows:
If Mourinho wins something—he stays.
If Mourinho loses everything—he joins the others who are missing parts.
One cannot ward off criticism by claiming ongoing change, yet expound on potential without producing results. It becomes a case of wanting your cake and eating it too, something Abramovich never seems keen to allow.