Pepe deflected attention away from the obvious: Real Madrid couldn’t beat Barcelona. They were making strides away from Jose Mourinho’s initial encounter with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, the 5-0 thrashing at the Camp Nou, but the deployment of Pepe in the midfield became the primary talking point amid further overall disappointments against Barcelona. The Portuguese defender is neither a creator nor an adequate cog in the cycling of possession. His job was simply to stop Barcelona playing.
The difference between Jose Mourinho’s teams – Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea – and Sam Allardyce’s is that West Ham are fighting for survival. Allardyce’s resources in terms of playing staff available are nowhere near to what Mourinho has at his disposal. When playing at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea are undefeated under Mourinho, why shouldn’t a relegation candidate shut up shop?
Mourinho has never had to be in a position to rely on the secondary, ugly, “19th century” tactical deployment of his players. Against Barcelona, he was never without players who are genuinely considered among the best in the world in their positions. Inter Milan, who went to Barcelona to play for a draw and who registered only one attempt on target, which went wide, had creative outlets like Esteban Cambiasso and Wesley Sneijder available. Against Manchester United at Old Trafford this season – during the first few steps of David Moyes’ tenure at the club when vulnerability was rife – Mourinho opted not to field a recognised striker.
It’s harsh, it’s nonsensical and it’s hugely hypocritical of Mourinho to lambast Allardyce and West Ham in the way he has done.
Mourinho, for all his capabilities as a manager, his trophies accumulated and the players made available to him throughout his managerial career, has never looked to play a brand of football that befits his standing in the game and the talent of those in his squad.
It has often been a tedious affair watching Chelsea this season. While at Real Madrid, supporters, the media and the club were unhappy about the style of football on display at the Bernabeu. It was a counterattacking system that utilised the pace of the forwards. It was effective at the best of times, but a team consisting of Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Maria, and Sergio Ramos and Pepe at centre-back are capable, quite easily, of producing something far more attractive.
But with some degree of understanding to Mourinho, it’s his system; it’s the system that has won him trophies wherever he’s been and it will more than likely land him further silverware during his second stint at Stamford Bridge.
With 39 attempts on goal against West Ham on Wednesday night, shouldn’t it be appropriate to pat Allardyce’s side on the back for keeping a clean sheet and coming away with a point? Moreover, if Chelsea are unable to break down a team in a relegation scrap and who shipped nine goals against Manchester City over two legs in the League Cup, doesn’t that fall on Mourinho himself?
There’s nothing wrong with Eden Hazard, Oscar or Willian; Samuel Eto’o is fresh off a hat-trick against Manchester United. The tirade against West Ham doesn’t hold much water.