Just how boring are Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea?

by Jon Naylor

cabcdotnetdotau_mourinho_chelseaAs the Man Utd and Chelsea players trudged off the Old Trafford pitch on Monday evening, the Twitter vultures circled. Supporters, journalists and neutrals alike decried the first major showpiece of the Premier League season as a major letdown. One thing was obvious to all – the second Mourinho era had begun in earnest.

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Often remembered for his pragmatic tactics as much as his victories, the Chelsea manager’s stifling approach was blamed for turning what was the most anticipated fixture of the Premier League so far into a test in endurance for viewers – the entire match featured one shot on target from inside the area.

Yet, the Chelsea supporters remain delighted to have the Portuguese back at the helm, with the general reaction from Blues fans being that this was most definitely a point gained rather than two dropped.

The facts remain, though, that Mourinho opted to start without a striker and left Chelsea’s Player of the Year, and match-winner in this fixture last season, on the bench for the duration. These decisions alone would have been enough to earn some previous managers criticism.

But just how dull is Jose Mourinho as a manager, and how much more effective are his methods compared to others who have managed in his absence?

Certain statistics would appear to confirm the received wisdom of both notions – that Mou achieves success more frequently than his Chelsea-managing contemporaries, but does so in a much more boring manner.

Mourinho’s tactics are often seen to be at their most negative when facing off against the other big teams in the league – a belief that is certainly reinforced when looking at the events of the August Bank Holiday. These games, whilst high in drama, did not produce a huge amount of goals in his first period in charge. When looking at the goals per game ratio of Mourinho’s Chelsea compared to the sides of 2007-2013, the numbers speak for themselves:

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So, fewer goals in the big games would certainly appear to be on the cards under Mourinho compared to the teams managed by Avram Grant, Guus Hiddink, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez. Not only that, but the percentage of goalless draws against major rivals is huge compared to other Chelsea managers.

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It is telling that in the 20 games played against Man Utd in his absence, there was not one 0-0 draw. His last league encounter with the Red Devils during his first tenure as manager? 0-0 at Stamford Bridge. Last competitive match against them? The FA Cup final seen by many as the dullest in recent memory, which remained goalless until the 116th minute when Didier Drogba put us all out of our misery.

It’s fairly clear from those two tables that the theories about his sides’ defensiveness against rivals are certainly true. His effectiveness, though, cannot be questioned.

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Against all of his major rivals, Mourinho enjoys a better win percentage than the collective attained by the host of managers who succeeded him. This win percentage also translates into trophies, with the 1.67 per season he earned in his first season higher than the 1 per campaign achieved by his successors.

So, Chelsea fans, it’s all true. Your man remains box office in the press conference room and tediously effective on the pitch. This does seem to jar with Roman Abramovich’s unending desire to bring free-flowing attacking football to Stamford Bridge, as it did in Mourinho’s first stint in charge.

Is history doomed to repeat itself, with the gulf in ideologies between manager and owner proving a chasm too large to bridge? On the basis of his first game against a title rival, it would appear that Mourinho isn’t about to change the way he sets his sides up.

Abramovich, then, might have to be the leopard to change his spots if this relationship is to succeed in the long term.

7 Responses

  1. terry lynch says:

    get your facts right sunshine! mata isn’t fully fit. when he is he’ll take up his place. not before then. mourinho is a very, very successful manager. but don’t let the facts get in the way of your man.utd bias.

  2. CFC_Ron says:

    I’m calling it now, history will repeat itself and Mourinho will end up being sacked by Abramovich. His style of football is truly hideous to watch and will end up ruining Chelsea’s flair and creativity, one of the main reasons Abramovich sacked him the first time. This time, I can see many Chelsea fans as well as management bitterly regretting ever wanting him back. Mourinho and his appaling brand of football, will be sacked very soon as history repeats itself.
    He served his purpose 10 years ago and his dreadul football, trouble making and dragging our club’s name through the dirt was tolerated or excused at that time because CFC needed to build a winning mentality to justify the outlay.
    Now, the club has moved on since those days and the Chelsea fans I know expect good quality attacking football. Mourinho’s style is not fit for purpose any longer and sorry to say as a former fan of his I can no longer tolerate such negative and backward football no matter how effective it may be. Things have changed and the club was moving in a certain direction with young, flair players being recreuited. Mourinho will ruin that good work and will end up sacked.
    Abramovich and his team of advisers and senior management will all quickly realise what a big mistake it was to bring him back and someone like Klopp of even Poyet will be made Chelsea manager within the next 18-24 months.

  3. Sam says:

    Nice aticle, backed up by stats and a good read. Wherever Mourinho has been you can gurantee 5 things: 1 – He will win trophies 2. He will spend a shed load of money 3.They will poor to watch regardless of which 11 is picked 4. He will Piss just about everyone in the football club off at some point 5. He will be gone in 3 years…MAX.

  4. Sam says:

    I think Ron makes some good points. But I think we have to remember Mourinho’s appointment isn’t the grand home coming of a former hero the media and fans make it out to be but merely a appointment out of convenience for both parties.

    Mourinho wanted the United Job but settled for Chelsea. Abranovich wanted Guardiola but after he went to Bayern so he settled for Jose (and after Benitez, probably wanted an appointment to get the fans onside)

    I think Jose will end up winning Trophies at Chelsea but once this is done, Abranovich will demand that Chelsea start playing more entertaining football, which really isn’t top on Jose agenda, by this point there will be a new man of the moment and once a few questionable results come about Jose will be off.

    One point regarding the team selection on Monday that did make me chuckle, was choosing De Bruyne over Mata for thestarting 11. When this was announce I had a look at my twitter feed and came across a number of Chelsea fans praising this move as an inspiring selection that would shock united etc etc etc I would of loved to see the same response if say, Benitez done the same thing last season.

    It does seem that with his good looks, charm and the fact he plays the media game so well, he almost brain washes Chelsea and Football fans in general in thinking he is some sort of messiah.

  5. bob@bob.com says:

    exceptionally so for a billion buck team – zzzz oh you’re laying like Wimbledon zzz oh golf clap

  6. bob@bob.com says:

    Thanks Ukraine bring in those Gazprom criminal sanctions pay the wages then plastic Chelski

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