Chelsea's win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday night all but means they'll be champions of England this season, and that thought thoroughly depresses me. It's all well and good saying 'it's all about winning', but what's the point when you're winning as badly as Chelsea.
Many will argue that they were playing much better football earlier in the season, and while to an extent that's true, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea teams (or any of his teams for that matter) have never set the world alight, and their victory over United last weekend is the epitome of The Special One's mantra: Win costs, regardless of how ugly it is.
It's said winning is all that counts, and to an extent that's also true, but not when it's as ugly as Mourinho makes it. It is a hallmark of his teams, 'parking the bus'; he even coined the term. Though I'm sure many will disagree with me on this, what's the point in winning that badly Jose? Where is the desire to win the beautiful game beautifully?
Winning well truly is the hallmark of a great coach, and while it's impossible to argue with Mourinho's record, I think his whole approach to the game is thoroughly negative for football in general.
Mourinho has consistently been at teams with the resources and squads to play attractive, expansive football. Not every Championship winning team needs to play like Pep Guardiola's Barcelona side of a few years ago, or Arsenal's Invincibles, but when you have the sort of resources like Mourinho has had at Real Madrid and Chelsea, surely it's a must to not only win, but win well?
Chelsea's squad could easily have matched Manchester United at the weekend, and tried to dominate what is by all accounts a team still in transition. But instead, they played with two defensive midfielders (one centre-back in Kurt Zouma) and deliberately destroyed the spectacle which the game could have been.
This is a hallmark of Mourinho in big games, and while it can't be said that it doesn't work (his record against big teams truly is astonishing), I think it's a shame that the champions of England this year, despite having the most gifted team, have decided to go down that route.
This Chelsea squad on paper have the ability to play football beautifully, and win too. Their midfield is full of talented, technically gifted and creative players: Cesc Fabregas is one of the best in the world at picking a pass and dictating a game's tempo, Nemanja Matic is both a gifted tackler and also a talented player technically, Oscar and Willian have the characteristic Brazilian flare but both combine it with work rate and consistency. Finally, in Eden Hazard Chelsea have a player who potentially could be the world's best in the coming decade.
What's more, this Chelsea side have nothing to fear defensively either, like so many gifted, technical attacking teams. In John Terry they have a centre-back who has been one of the best in the world for a decade now, and in Gary Cahill they have one of the best aerial centre-backs in the Premier League, if not on the planet.
Combine these two with Branislav Ivanovic and Cezar Azpilicueta, and you have a powerful defence which can stand up to any team. So any excuses about defensive frailty forcing Chelsea's negative stance are utterly void.
And yet in spite of all this talent, Chelsea "parked the bus", and England's future champions had 30% possession at home against a transitioning team with four key players injured. Possession isn't everything, but there was so little desire to play any sort of progressive attacking football, even before Hazard's goal.
It's one thing to shut up shop against a far superior opponent, but it's something completely different to play this way against a team who, by most accounts, would be considered vastly inferior. It shows a fearfulness which one would not expect from a manager who has won almost everything and is widely considered to be a genius.
What's more, I am astonished that Chelsea fans are so supportive of this negative style. How could a team, and their supporters, who consider themselves an entrenched part of Europe's footballing elite, not even question this style? 30% possession at home against a team with such obvious defensive frailties is truly pathetic, and an insult to managers and teams everywhere trying to play and win games, without sacrificing the spirit of the game.
Football's magic is, at the end of it all, about entertainment, and that's something Mourinho has never managed on the pitch, or even attempted, even though he's a master at keeping us entertained off it.
Tarnishing a legacy?
The truly great managers and teams aren't only remembered for winning, they're remembered for winning well. This is something Mourinho has never managed and I'm sure he has little desire to do so.
Chelsea will win the Premier League this year, but them winning it in this style truly is a loss for the footballing world, and it's a dangerous slope Mourinho is taking us down. Winning so badly, with the resources he has at his disposal, will simply encourage this negativity across world football, and that thought depresses me more than any other
Chelsea fans, do you agree that Mourinho is tarnishing the game by organising the Blues as he does? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.
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