Football

Jose Mourinho: A tale of tactics

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Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly a very controversial figure in the world of football. In this Premier League season, he has made himself a public enemy, with criticism of refereeing performances, celebrations as taunting as ever and of course the comments he has made on others - most notoriously, naming Arsene Wenger as an expert in failure.

Jose though, quite frankly, doesn't seem bothered, and it is this nonchalant attitude of his that brings with it seething hatred towards Mourinho. He has created such an aura and a stir around himself that it gives his team an extra edge going into each game.

Ashely Cole was clearly more focused for the game with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night than the game he was about to play last weekend.

I was baffled as to how such a great professional could have such an attitude before a game, I wondered why he didn't talk about trying to beat Liverpool - where was his focus on the match at hand?

Of course after the Chelsea victory at Anfield I realised - along with Mourinho's more obvious tactics of pondering playing a 'weaker' team - that Mourinho had got his message through the whole squad and perhaps the whole country. I believe Liverpool were lured into somewhat of a false sense of security in terms of the challenge that Chelsea would pose, and this is all down to Jose.

As a Liverpool fan myself, I never believed Chelsea would play a team to lose, or that they wouldn't be capable of taking points from Anfield, but I was of the opinion that Chelsea had their minds already slightly fixed on Atletico. Evidently, this really wasn't really the case.

Chelsea's victory was, I think, largely down to Mourinho's tactics in the week leading up to the game as opposed to during the game itself and there is no other manager as psychologically advanced in his motives than Jose Mourinho.

Did Chelsea show a tactical 'master class' on the pitch at Anfield? No, they didn't. I'm bored of the increasingly common 'park the bus' phrase, of how a Liverpool side were defeated by anti-football. I'm a fan of attacking football as much as anybody else, but Chelsea did what they had to do in order to win the game of football and at the end of the day, this is all that counts.

Steven Gerrard slipped and time stood still for a moment, the Kop in disbelief. Demba Ba pounced on this glorious opportunity and from then on Liverpool's defence was going to be stretched.

The Reds had to go for it late on in the second half and a 2-0 away victory seemed inevitable. On the day they were unlucky, no doubt, but you cant argue that Chelsea hadn't earned three points fairly. Cue Mourinho pumping his fists down the Anfield touchline.

A victory then, born of cunning management, a focused and compact defense as well as a slice of luck and Chelsea are back in the title race, it is still very unlikely that Chelsea win the Premier League but it is by no means beyond the realms of possibility.

The next test for Jose's men was a Champions League semi-final second leg tie against La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid. This time, Mourinho didn't get his tactics spot on. The game was going to plan for Chelsea when Fernando Torres put them a goal up against his former club.

Immediately, however, the Chelsea lines retreated. Half-time wasn't yet upon us and the Spaniards had their crucial equaliser, courtesy too of some suspect defending. The section of fans in the corner of the stadium covered in red and white went absolutely mental and it wouldn't be the only time.

The second half started after the away side had finished the first strongly. If anything changed, it was that the pendulum was now swinging further in the favor of Atletico. They came out of the blocks with authority and conviction, they sought to take the game to Chelsea even though it was their game to lose and Mourinho made a surprisingly early attacking change for the hosts.

Atletico's mentality wasn't changed, however. After the mercurial Diego Costa made it 2-1 from the penalty spot, they played with the feel of a team who knew they were heading for the Champions League final and at this point the game was more or less over.

Chelsea needed two goals but were not looking likely to get them. It didn't help that their own goalkeeper - Thibaut Courtois - on loan at Atletico Madrid, was on top form. Chelsea opened up like Liverpool had done so on Sunday and when Atletico made it 3-1, there really was no way back into the game.

Mourinho decided to bring off Ashley Cole and send on Samuel Eto'o when the game was still at 1-1. Chelsea only needed one goal. It's obvious that they play best on the counter attack and with Atletico themselves showing no signs of slowing down the game, Chelsea really should have kept a tight unit until they really needed to go for the winning goal.

Mourinho changed things too early, Chelsea opened up too early and with Atletico in fine form at this stage it seemed an open game would have only one outcome.

Perhaps Mourinho panicked. Quite out of character on this occasion, but it just shows what can happen in a few days of football at the very highest level. Had Mourinho continued playing how he had played at Anfield up until the very latter stages of the game last night, then Chelsea may have been preparing for a Champions League final.

No, Mourinho will have to listen to some criticism from the very poeple he would have antagonised over the course of this season, especially if he remains without a trophy and considering that it's possible that Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool may all pick up silverware of their own.

Chelsea have had a good season, it could yet be great, but Mourinho's mistake against Atletico Madrid will serve as a lesson for next year. His ego will surely not be lost after this defeat, after all he has a managerial CV that many others would love to mimic in any way possible.

What he has achieved up to now is amazing, and he will go on to achieve even more. He is one of the world's best managers, maybe even the best, but more will be expected of him and his team next season.

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Topics:
Chelsea
Football
Premier League
UEFA Champions League

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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