Jose Mourinho’s eggs have broken. Spectacularly. The Chelsea manager may well be regretting his latest use of analogies after Chelsea 2.0 were beaten by Basel to make it three defeats in a row. If you include the Super Cup defeat to Bayern Munich. Which as we all know, Jose does not. Losing on penalties is a luck thing according to the Special One, not a talent one. Given he has a pretty dismal record in penalty shoot outs, it is not a shock he has decided to parrot that line.
One thing that has been shocking however is Chelsea’s performance. There is simply no excuse for the last two results and Mourinho knows it. The inquest has begun and six years to the day that Mourinho first ‘mutually consented’ to depart Chelsea, Abramovich is entering the dressing room once again.
Luckily for Mourinho, this time Abramovich is with him rather than against him. Probably due to the simple fact that he has run out of interim managers to turn to. The Chelsea manager may have told the media and fans to blame him, but behind closed doors, fingers will be pointed at certain players make no mistake.
Eden Hazard has enjoyed the status of being Jose Mourinho’s chosen one, but last night was the useless one. Disappointing does not even begin to cover the performance by the winger last night. Hazard looked poor going forward and lazy when it came to tracking back.
There is no doubt that his talent is prodigious. A blind man could tell you that, but Hazard flits in and out of games more often than Arsenal are linked to players they have no chance of landing. Consistency is the key and Mourinho will not suffer fools for long. Hazard may well get a reprieve for now, but come Christmas if the situation remains the same, he will be facing a spell on the bench, with ‘sub’ the more accurate term to be printed on the back of his shirt.
Both David Luiz and Gary Cahill were another two that left a huge deal to be desired last night. Luiz was criticised for his part in the goal conceded at Goodison on the weekend and again resembled more of a shaky Jenga tower than the brick wall Chelsea so desperately needed.
One of the main points of any Mourinho team and their success has been the duo at centre back. Chelsea, at the minute, simply do not have that. Cahill, for all his effort, is never going to be a world class centre back and is frankly a poor man’s version of John Terry. Given the money possessed by Abramovich, a poor man’s anything should not be featured at Chelsea.
There is no good point at which to begin with David Luiz. He may have his fans and be seen as a future skipper of Chelsea, but until he learns to defend, the only place he belongs is on the transfer list.
Being caught out of position and meandering forward are the two better problems Mourinho faces in trying to mould Luiz. Having drawn comparisons with the likes of Ricardo Carvalho and Lucio because of his ability and want to play the ball, doing his job at the back should be the only thing Luiz tries to do at the minute. Given he struggles to do that, one key word needs to be repeated over and over again to the Brazilian. Discipline.
That being said, during the game against Bayern Munich, Luiz showed more promise than at any other point in his Chelsea career to date. There is hope for the defender yet but Jose Mourinho will be praying Terry is fit for as many games as possible, you can bet your life on it. The option of bringing in a right back and allowing Branislav Ivanovic to revert to playing as a central defender may well be considered come January should the defence still continue to look shakier than Ed Woodward’s transfer dealings to date.
One thing that Chelsea are utterly bereft of at the minute is a forward. Worrying really, considering their website advertises that they have three rather pricey ones and all. Should a goal come from one of the centre forwards currently owned by the club, you could be forgiven for thinking the apocalypse was about to commence.
Is Eto’o lacking match fitness or simply past it? Mourinho will be hoping for the former. Keeping Ba and allowing Lukaku to go on loan also seems a very poor decision in hindsight. Come Saturday, should Jeff Stelling announce that Demba Ba has scored against Fulham, Chelsea fans will probably think their side are one down to an own goal.
Inevitably we now have to turn our attentions to Fernando Torres, who did not even make the squad to face Basel. Mourinho may be one of the best managers in the world, but Harry Potter he is not. A combination of Harry Potter, Gandalf and the Wizard of Oz himself would struggle to get the Spaniard firing on all cylinders once again.
That being said, Torres has looked the best of the bunch so far this season (providing no better demonstration of how badly Chelsea are actually playing up top) and should Eto’o have another bad game on Saturday evening, two things need to be done. Torres has to be appointed the main man and given all the love and confidence Mourinho can muster. A calendar and big red pen must also be invested in, to count down the days to January – when Chelsea can enter the market and buy a forward. One who can actually put the ball in the back of the net.
Forwards aside, one point that has been repeated time and time again is that of the inclusion of Juan Mata. To call Juan Mata the heartbeat of the Chelsea side is now something that could get you into trouble for false advertising. Benchwarmer is a more accurate term now. The number ten featured against Everton and was average at best. He also came on as a sub against Basel and managed to contribute to the side. By giving away possession cheaply in the middle of the park – leading to an attempt on goal by Basel, and the subsequent corner for the second goal. He may not have been directly at fault, but in the chain of causation, Mata is as culpable as Demba Ba.
That was a major concern of Mourinho’s – along with Mata’s offering to the team off the ball. Again something on display in the two times he has featured. Where as an Oscar type player runs around like a man possessed in order to regain possession or place the opponent under pressure, Mata causally waits until possession is regained and he can again spark into life.
Is he a good player? No. He is a very good player, undoubtedly so, but a Mourinho type player? Not on what we have seen so far. Chelsea built their success on a system of 4-3-3, and that involves a centre forward who does his job and two flying wingers to support him. Hark back to the days of Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben and Damien Duff. That is what Chelsea do best and what Mourinho has used as a blueprint for all his sides.
Why then are the club obsessed with bringing in small, number ten type players? You can have Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Willian and a million others, but you will never recreate what Barcelona have done. More than that, it only serves to destroy the system Chelsea have made their own and work so well with.
Several things need to be done going forward – Mourinho simply has to revert back to his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation. Oscar is beyond a shadow of a doubt the player who should occupy the number ten role and has been one of the few successes of Mou 2.0 thus far. Hazard can and will be given another chance to show what he can do, and Mourinho also needs to settle on who is his star man up top. That and get his phone out to text old pall Didier and ask what his plans are after January.
The defence also needs to be sorted out – easier said than done with Luiz at the heart of it. Cutting through a Mourinho side like glass is a feature we have not seen before, and should not see again. The old guard of Cech, Cole, Lamps and Terry also have a huge part to play here. They have seen this all before and are responsible for picking the younger players up and dusting them off.
Is it all doom and gloom at the Bridge then? No, whilst Mourinho’s second coming is not quite on a par with Jesus’ yet, it is not all bad. Better to iron their issues out now than in six months. Let’s face it. Chelsea simply could not be playing worse. Yet they are still level on points with both Manchester United and City. They are also still favourites to top Group E. Will Blue be the colour at the end of the season? Time will tell, but on what we have learnt so far, to make that happen, Jose may well need to ask Santa for a couple of things come Christmas.
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