Football

Chelsea abandon beauty for Jose Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League.

Chelsea fans were ecstatic to see the 'Special One' after he ended a turbulent and controversial spell with Real Madrid.

But the appointment of Mourinho represented a major decision from owner Roman Abramovich to abandon his plans to instil beautiful football in the team he's invested so much in.

When Chelsea paid £13.3m to release Andre Villas-Boas from his contract at Porto, many fans believed this was the start of a long-term project at Stamford Bridge.

With Villas-Boas introducing an attractive form of football at Porto, Roman Abramovich was keen to get the young manager to work his magic for Chelsea as well.

Villas-Boas had a big job on his hands. The team had grown around Mourinho's defensive tactics and straight-forward football. Subsequent managers like Carlo Ancelotti worked in a similar way to Mourinho and had no need for any drastic changes.

There was a reliance on a strong target man in the form of Didier Drogba and two highly defensive midfielders to cover for an advanced Frank Lampard.

These tactics were by no means pretty but they were incredibly effective, as shown by Mourinho's back-to-back title winning squad in his first spell at the club.

Stubborn Chelsea players, who were fixated on that style, were unwilling to change when AVB came in. By the time Villas-Boas was sacked after barely half a season in charge, he had reportedly lost the support of the dressing room.

In that short spell, he managed to sign only one major player that fit in to his new, stylish team. Juan Mata is the notable success from the AVB era. The Spaniard has won Chelsea''s Player of the Year award in both of his two seasons at the club.

Now it appears Abramovich's desire to get his team playing beautiful football has been abandoned in favour of instant success.

Mourinho is back in west London and Chelsea are, unsurprisingly, back to their old tricks.

At Old Trafford last night, Mourinho's men stifled the opposition whilst showing little intention to go forward.

They played without a striker in a style similar to that of Spain's European Championship winning squad of 2012. Andre Shurrle was given the role of a false No. 9 but rarely threatened Manchester United's goal.

This was essential a 4-6-0 formation - a highly negative tactic. It stopped United in their tracks and bored the crowd in to submission.

Furthermore, Mourinho decided to bring on two more defensive players in the dying minutes in exchange for the few attacking threats. With that, Chelsea essentially finished with eight defensive players on the pitch in a 5-4-1 formation.

This kind of football won't win you fans - Real Madrid fans were never happy with the way Mourinho got their beloved team to play - but it does win you titles. Mourinho knows a point at Manchester United is not only a point gained but two points lost for their closest rivals for the Premier League crown.

And even more surprisingly, Mourinho seems happy to drop Mata out of his first team plans in order to get the team working the way he wants to.

Mata was left on the bench during the game last night and reports are linking him with a move away from the team. Mourinho's tactics crave discipline and Mata thrives off of a free role. This fact could well see his time at Stamford Bridge come to a premature end.

The appointment of Villas-Boas indicated that Abramovich wasn't happy with winning ugly. He wanted to win but to win pretty like Arsenal in 2004 or how Barcelona continue to do so.

The swift dismissal is evidence of Abramovich's volatile nature and the appointment of Mourinho completes the 180 degree reversal in his ambitions.

Chelsea can look forward to success in the near future but beautiful football will have to wait until Mourinho's second tenure ends.

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Topics:
Premier League
Football
Chelsea
Juan Mata

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