The Gunners and England legend appeared on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday as a guest and pointed to the Blues’ coach’s rotation as a potential cause for Chelsea’s disappointing 2-0 defeat to Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday.
So far this season, Mourinho has played three different combinations in his back four in the Premier League. In five games, he has started Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Ashley Cole, and Gary Cahill, on four occasions he has started those first three with David Luiz and on one occasion he played has played Ryan Bertrand in for Cole with Luiz in for Cahill.
In midfield the tinkering is almost unbelievable for a Jose Mourinho side – over 10 Premier League games played, the boss has deployed no less than 9 different combinations of his midfield five from the start. The only combination to start together more than once was Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Ramires, Eden Hazard and Oscar who have started together twice – once this weekend against the Magpies and once in their 2-1 win over Aston Villa way back in August.
Up front, Fernando Torres has started four games, and of those four he’s been taken off in half of them, Samuel Eto’o has started three games and been taken off in two of them, Demba Ba has started two games and been taken off in both.
Chelsea have lost two games, drawn two games and won six from 10 which isn’t bad and it’s enough to see them sit second from top, five points off leaders Arsenal but it’s nowhere near championship winning form at present. How can Mourinho expect consistency in his team’s performance when he’s consistently changing the starting XI from one game to the next?
Not one combination of eleven players has started together as a unit more than once so far in the league this season. Tony Adams’ assertion that Mourinho doesn’t know his best team looks about right. His reminder that the last time Jose Mourinho won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2005/06, he pretty much stuck with a back four of John Terry (36 league starts), William Gallas (33 starts), Asier del Horno (25 starts), and Ricardo Carvalho (22 starts).
In midfield, he pretty much stuck with Frank Lampard (35 starts), Claude Makelele (29 starts) Michael Essien (27 starts), Joe Cole (26 starts), with the likes of Arjen Robben, Geremi, and Damien Duff rotating in and out. Up front, it was either Hernan Crespo (20 starts) or Didier Drogba (20 starts).
Mourinho knew his best team in 2005/06 – it was Cech- Carvalho-Terry-Gallas-del Horno-Makelele-Essien-Lampard-Cole-Robben-Drogba. This season it seems as though he has no idea what his best team is and it’s no surprise the players are none-the-wiser either.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald