If Jose Mourinho’s efforts were an attempt to deflect attention from his Chelsea players onto him, he’s done a fantastic job. People are talking about him, probably the way he likes it, instead of his team, who couldn’t overcome the team propping up the Premier League table.
As is always the case, it’s someone else’s fault Chelsea lost against Sunderland on the weekend. Referee Mike Dean felt most of Mourinho’s ire post-game, with the manager implying there was a conspiracy against his team, one which prevented them from taking anything from the game.
We know Mourinho uses this tactic, it’s one that’s helped him in every country he’s managed. There’s always been an evil his team were battling against, whether it be the media, a not-quite-clued-up owner or a super team assembled north of him.
But at some point it will stop being someone else’s fault. At some point, Mourinho has to hold his hands up and say he got it horribly wrong. It’s not to say the refereeing decisions in the loss against Sunderland couldn’t have gone his way. There were a handful which could be up for debate. But take those away and look at it purely for the football. What it ultimately boils down to is that Chelsea failed to beat the worst team in the league.
And it’s not something we, or Mourinho, can explain away as a one off. It isn’t. We’ve seen these performances from this Chelsea team all season. Not only can they be absolutely dire to watch, they also fail to show up for the lesser games and struggle to put away teams who are far inferior.
Mourinho has got it wrong from the get go. Maybe it’s a tedious argument to bring up Juan Mata, but Chelsea really do need someone like him, someone who can create opportunities for others. If Chelsea aren’t winning games from set pieces, they’re winning them with scrappy goals, ones which result in the goal scorer launching his body at the ball in the hope it will cross the goal line.
Who cares if Mata can’t or won’t track back? Let’s not use the term luxury player; it’s as irritating as it is irrational. Players like that win you games. Oscar is not a No.10, as much as Mourinho likes to play him there. A sensible approach would have been to deploy the Brazilian in a three-man midfield alongside a combination of Nemanja Matic, Ramires or David Luiz. Oscar can play, but he’s also deceptively good defensively. Whatever players like Mata lack in defensive work, it’s made up for by those whose job it actually is to protect their own goal.
But the larger point of it is that Mourinho has looked to play out uneventful games all season, shutting out the other team while leaning on players like Eden Hazard to nick a winner at the other end. When that doesn’t work – because remember, in the most competitive league in the world, everyone can beat everyone – it becomes someone else’s fault that Mourinho’s tactics haven’t brought gold. And when it comes to that, he can be extremely unpleasant.
He has a way about him that belittles others. Don’t dare ask him a question he won’t like. The behaviour of Rui Faria on the weekend was disgraceful, but why couldn’t Mourinho at least apologise? Perhaps it’s in his mind that nothing out of hand was done.
This Chelsea team do have limitations, though only really in attack. What does that come down to? A lack of funds? A cold market? Or is it because the manager chose to loan out the team’s most productive forward and in turn buy a 32-year-old who was well past his best?
It’s a domino effect, in a way. One bad move leads to another and eventually results in the position Chelsea are in. Now, it’s by no means a bad position. How many clubs would love to be in the semi-final of the European Cup and still, mathematically, in with a shout of the league title? The thing is, the odds are stacked against Chelsea, and it isn’t really anyone else’s fault.
Mourinho came out with a nasty and unnecessary comment that stuck. But can’t it be adjusted in a number of ways to suit the Chelsea manager at present? Specialist at poor football. Specialist at blaming others. Specialist at being a bad loser. If Chelsea do end up without the Premier League title – and most would assume it’s heading to Anfield – after so many tipped them as favourites, wouldn’t that sort of make him a specialist at failure too?