Following another poor defensive display by Chelsea, this time in a Capital One Cup 2-1 AET loss to Sunderland, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has strongly implied he might reign in his side’s tactics, resembling more of the Jose 1.0 side that allowed Chelsea to claim back-to-back Premier League trophies as well as three domestic cup competitions in the Portuguese manager’s previous stint at Stamford Bridge.
My initial reaction to Mourinho’s comments was to think that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has insisted on slicker prettier football, would be unhappy. But perhaps the owner understands the new competitive reality of today’s Premier League. More top sides exist that can potentially challenge for honors than any time since the Premier League began in 1992.
Chelsea’s on the pitch performances have generally been below par this season. While the side sits only two points from the summit of the Barclays Premier League, that lofty position may owe itself more to good fortune than any other matter. Chelsea were fortunate thanks to some very questionable decisions by officials — which helped Chelsea get three points against Aston Villa in August, then defeated Manchester City simply because of a shocking communication error in stoppage time, and then equalized with West Brom on the final kick of the match on perhaps the single worst referee decision of the season.
Mourinho and Abramovich know that the side have simply not performed well enough trying to be open and attack oriented. If Mourinho can convince his owner to let him set up the side more defensively and perhaps also reacquire the service of Steve Clarke, a master tactician who was sacked last week by West Brom, Chelsea could win the Premier League title.
Having won a European trophy each of the past two seasons but struggling at times in the league, the question begs itself — will Abramovich allow Mourinho the freedom to play defensive, winning football?
I would love to read the views of World Soccer Talk readers and Chelsea supporters on this topic.
Editor’s note: For the latest Blues news, analysis and opinion, visit the Chelsea team page.