Jose Mourinho has been forced to accept responsibility for Chelsea’s shock 2-1 defeat at home to Basel in his first Champions League game since returning to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are certainly not out of European contention, but their latest defeat followed a 1-0 loss to Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, and questions are particularly being asked of Mourinho’s midfield selections.
Sections of the Chelsea faithful have voiced their own protestations at the minimal role Juan Mata has played this season. Mata was arguably the Blues' best midfielder under the management of Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez, but has found himself on the sidelines of late.
Eden Hazard and Oscar have the creative ability to make up for Mata’s absence, but the Everton game saw them both tracking back and being forced to defend when either is capable of playing in a free role behind the front line.
Mourinho is far from tactically inept but it may be that he simply doesn’t know his best team yet. The midfield has changed dramatically since his first spell in charge, with a lot less reliance on Frank Lampard while Joe Cole now plies his trade at West Ham.
It may be that Mourinho is lacking a Claude Makelele figure in the centre of his midfield, and is attempting to substitute that by playing Oscar a lot deeper than he should be.
The Special One’s midfield is yet to adapt to a style that varies radically from that of last season’s interim coach Benitez, but he will have his work cut out nonetheless to reignite a stagnant centre of the park.
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