Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has been lambasting Cardiff City for time-wasting during his side’s 4-1 win over the South Wales team. The Portuguese chief was sent to the stands for venting his fury at officials after what he believed to be devious tactics from the newly promoted outfit. Now, an FA charge looks imminent, but Mourinho is standing staunchly by his accusations:
“If I was in that game and I was paying my ticket, I would be worried with the fact that every time the ball was out or stopped and our opponent had to put the ball back in the game, it took a median (average) of 21.5 seconds. That is a waste of money. When you multiply that by the number of times the game was stopped, you pay for 90 minutes but you see 55 or 60.
“For me, that’s breaking the rules.”
Yes, time-wasting is hugely frustrating. It does happen too often and in many respects, players participating in it are wasting supporters’ money. Perhaps it is something the FA and FIFA should take a look at? Maybe with a view to introducing more stringent punishments for potential offenders?
But that is another issue entirely. And whilst his comments could give way to a wider debate, there is a degree of hypocrisy to Mourinho’s noble campaign against time wasters, for it is certainly not a tactic he has been shy of using down years. The Chelsea boss has been lauded as a master tactician, and a key component of his success is the ability to draw the sting out of frenetic contests. This ability often manifests in the form of astute substitutions, understated tactical adjustments and – whisper it quietly – taking time out of the game.
Mourinho’s glittering managerial career has been littered with these instances. Go back to the very start, and his first major triumph: FC Porto’s 2003 UEFA Cup Final victory against Celtic. Furious at some of the antics from Mourinho’s players, the then Celtic manager Martin O’Neill said “I will probably get into trouble for this, but it was poor sportsmanship. The rolling over, the time wasting.”
Stan Petrov played for Celtic in that game, and also commented on the time wasting tactics employed by Porto:
“Porto wasted a lot of time in the closing minutes and it was incredibly frustrating. It’s not the sporting thing to do but it happens in football. I’d never pat the Porto players on the back but I don’t want to criticise them either because time wasting goes on.”
Somewhat surprisingly when you consider Mourinho’s recent remarks, this is by no means an isolated case. In his time at Inter Milan, for example, Mourinho’s goalkeeper Julio Cesar was booked for time wasting just 34 minutes into a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. That after Inter had sought to employ ‘time wasting tactics’ with the game less than two minutes old.
In his controversy-laden spell at Real Madrid, both Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos were both sent off in the same game against Ajax for deliberate time wasting late on. The club was later charged and accused of “playing the system” after it became apparent Jose had instructed the duo to get sent off, which in turn allowed them to miss a meaningless tie and have a clean record ahead of the knockout stages. The Portuguese manager was subsequently issued with a two game ban, along with his players and £30,000 fine.
Mourinho, no different to a host of managers, has used underhand tactics when necessary. Especially in the red-hot atmosphere of big games such as the aforementioned Finals and Semi-Finals. Cardiff City were merely doing the same. Chelsea represent a huge game for Malky Mackay’s side and after going 1-0 up, they were always going to slow the game down and disrupt their opponents’ rhythm.
Devious, according Mourinho. But as we’ve already noted, it’s a ploy that Jose has almost patented: score a goal and shut down the game. It was just one of many qualities that made his first Chelsea side such a formidable opponent. So it was disappointing to hear an established, illustrious boss like the Portuguese publicly castigate an up-and-coming boss like Mackay. Especially when he was implementing tactics not wholly dissimilar to those which a young Mourinho utilized to make his own name, and has continued to utilize since.
Then again, maybe these comments are an indicator that Jose has had a change of heart on the matter? Perhaps the ‘happy one’ abides by a new moral code these days?
That’s what his scathing attack on Cardiff City would suggest. So next time Chelsea are a goal up in a big game, will we see Mourinho’s players quickly getting the ball in back into play? Substitutes sprinting on and off the pitch in the latter stages? Players bursting forward in added time instead of running down the clock in the corner?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball