Chelsea: Dear Mourinho, It’s not philosophy – it’s old math

Chelsea: Dear Mourinho, It’s not philosophy – it’s old math


jose-mourinho_2568616bLast week Jose Mourinho responded to critics of his ultra-conservative style of play by jokingly labelling them as the ‘philosophers’ of football. We can assume that he includes Brendan Rodgers and Manuel Pellegrini in that bracket.

He seemingly had a case after the Liverpool game. Having shut out the most electric attacking team in the league, Mourinho had once again masterminded a result in one of the so-called ‘big games’. The result justified the method, in the mind of the Portuguese coach.

Fast-forward three days to the Champions league tie against Atletico Madrid and Mourinho was at it again. With six Chelsea defenders named on the team sheet, you couldn’t help but think that he was out to spoil the party again, and would probably succeed.

Chelsea got off to the perfect start, but Atletico came back into the game just before the break, grabbing the crucial away goal that Mourinho had so blatantly set up to avoid. In the second half, Chelsea were required to go on the attack if they were to stay in the competition. For the Chelsea team selected that night to set about this offensive task was a bit like a neutered cocker spaniel attempting to get jiggy with a muscular dog three times its size. Chelsea were a blunt instrument, and Atletico a steel-hardened defensive unit.

Here’s the flaw in Mourinho’s ‘philosophy’. To play at home with six defenders and set up only to break on the counter, whether it’s a conscious judgement or not, is an admittance of inferiority. This means that when Atletico did find a way to break down the Chelsea rearguard, the Londoners were not set up to reply with any vigour, or with any confidence for that matter.

Confidence is key here. There are some explosively talented midfield players at Chelsea who are not being given the freedom to express themselves. This is why Juan Mata no longer plays in a Chelsea shirt.

Eden Hazard’s frustration was clear when he conceded to the French press after the game that ‘Chelsea is not made to play football,’ comments for which he was dropped this weekend against Norwich.

The Chelsea-Norwich game ended in a bore 0-0 draw. Why is it that players with the technical quality of the likes of Willian and Schürrle among others, look utterly bewildered by the task of dismantling an average (albeit resilient) Norwich defence? As ridiculous as this may sound, it’s partly because they have only been trained to cope with and overcome teams who are superior to them – to keep a tight defensive line and hit teams on the break.

Mourinho believes that every match requires its own unique game plan. This is true, of course. Yet the reality is that Mourinho’s obsession with the systematic side of football is starting to translate into a lack of belief in his players, into disrespect to the potential of his football club, and into a relatively unsuccessful season for a squad far more talented than he gives it credit for.

There are positive and negative philosophies, and that’s outside of football. Chelsea are now third favourites for the league and all but out of the race. It looks now as if the title might be decided on goal difference on the final day. If City were to win the title on goal difference for the second time in three years, is that not a case in point for the value of having a positive philosophy towards the game?

When Mourinho’s Chelsea are losing, they lose. When their game plan is matched and outwitted, they forfeit (usually involving a lot of post-match sulking and sarcasm, and even the odd outburst towards the officials).

Mourinho’s record against the big teams is excellent, that can’t be argued with. Yet his side couldn’t overcome Aston Villa, Norwich, Sunderland, and others. These are the games where style comes into play. You have control of the ball, you have time and space – what will you do with it? Liverpool know what they’re doing with that space. City too.

Mourinho’s ‘philosophy’ is ironically the most deeply rooted of all the top managers in the league, and it’s a damaging philosophy based on distrust towards his players and, at times, verging on paranoia.

Setting out to score truckloads of goals is not mere philosophy. It’s mathematical. Football is mathematical. It’s not just about the most basic mathematics – the team scoring the most goals winning the match, and the team winning the most matches winning the league – it’s the law of averages. If you go out and try to win every game with energy and enthusiasm, you can expect that over the course of the season you’ll be picking up more points (and, ever more crucially, goals) than your negative opponent.

If City do what they are now being tipped to do, and win the title on goal difference for a second time, it won’t just be philosophy that counted, but regular old math.

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  1. IMO I think Mourinho’s conservative style is much more entertaining than any Tiki-Taka or offensive minded styles of play. This may be due to the fact that I prefer Serie A’s defensive tactical play compared to the free-flowing premier league games … however I think Chelsea’s problem is simply that they don’t have a powerful striker to dismantle defences. With possible arrivals of Diego Costa, Lukaku, Courtois and possibly a LW to replace a potentially departing Hazard, I think Chelsea will become extremely powerful and very difficult to beat…

    • Absolutely, you got it spot on. Mourinhio’s tactics si evoking a lot of envy in the football world and liverpool fans are just hating him for spoiling their party. i think Hazard is a negative influence in teh chelsea dressing room right now. He should n ethought a lesson. he has received a lot of support from Mourinhio over the course of the season and coming out to condemn his coach in that way was very bad of him.
      Mou has proven himself to be a winner. Won world’s best coach and runners up more than five times in his career. Hazard is yet to prove himself. he should learn and be more humble else i see another Robinho comming out of him with all his talents

    • Agree, definitely in need of one top class striker who performs consistently. No doubt they will be a more dangerous outfit next year.

  2. You might have had a point if the 6 defenders actually played the game against Atletico in defence. Luiz and Azpilicueta played midfield and you should have noticed who set up Torres for the goal, with a cross from a yard off the goal line.

    • @Boris… I realise that, of course, but that was really part of my point. Playing two defenders in midfield shows how defensive-minded Chelsea’s outlook was.

  3. Chelsea under Mourinho have always had a very strong spine. Cech, Terry, Lampard, Drogba et all. However, with this particular team he doesn’t have the same strength. That is why, in most games they set up conservatively. Looking for mistakes to prey on and set pieces to break the deadlock. Another interesting thing is they don’t have a creative central midfielder who can ping through balls into the path of strikers. It is this deficiency that causes Chelsea to play through the wings more often. Hoping Hazard or Schurle to get behind opposition defense and cause danger. Mourinho is a good coach but plays only to win. Hence, he suits his tactics as per the opposition. He doesn’t nurture a specific style of play.

    • I am a Chelsea fan i really didn’t want Mou back at chelsea,everywhere he goes the first thing he does is disrupt the team spirit.He is full of ego and the game has outgrown his foolish style and stupid comments.The coach dont play the game yet they get opportunity to kill a player carrier,how could you come out week after week and talk your strickers down and still expect them to perform in a stupid system of play.Mou and Chelsea deserve everything what happened to them so far.

  4. Chelsea really need a creative central midfieder who has the the ability to play through ball to the striker or any other player who is in the position. These are some of the reasons why our strikers don’t score. They don’t get the ball on time

  5. The only thing I can say is that Mourinho should try and buy players like Lavezzi, Arturo Vidal, Isco, Fernadinho and Costa. Already the defence is very strong, and also He should bring back Lukaku and Courtios but He should give them playing time. He is a good coach and I love his style of play. Eden Hazard should also learn how to control his manners in public. Let just admit Athletico Madrid just happened to be a better team than Chelsea. Blues 4 life..

  6. Mourinho is a very good coach but his adopted management style is damaging de players.he should bring back de 2004 management style and forget abt de management style madrid.wen he came to chelsea , he said now am coming to play nice football were is due nice footbal.jus luk at Liverpool now. Dey are doing great.mourinho should adopt a Democratic management style not buying players and destroying their performance.he should jus be free with due players.I like mourinho a lot but now I don’t knw wat is happening to Chelsea.mourinho adopt a good management style towards de player.

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