Jose Mourinho has been complaining about the lack of strikers in his Chelsea team since the start of the season. And it got really ugly last week after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain in Paris.
The Blues went down 3-1 at Parc des Princes and Mourinho claimed that he did not have a “real striker” in his expensively assembled squad. His lack of faith in his frontmen was clear in that he actually started Andre Schurrle as the centre-forward, keeping Fernando Torres and Demba Ba on the bench, with Samuel Eto’o injured.
For the second leg at Stamford Bridge in London on Tuesday, he picked Eto’o to lead the line despite the fact that the Cameroonian had only just recovered from his injury. There were still doubts on his fitness on Tuesday, but Mourinho was bent on starting the player he had worked with at Inter Milan in 2009-10, once again showing his indifference to Torres and Ba.
In the end, it was the three ‘unreal strikers’ who carried Chelsea through to the last four of Europe’s premier club competition. All three were on the pitch when Ba scored the tie-clinching goal in the 87th minute and all three can genuinely claim to have played an important role in the team’s progress, at least on the night.
And now Ba has hit back, and in a way that at times Mourinho takes a dig at his adversaries: with subtly.
“We have three great strikers and I think that a lot of clubs would like to have them,” BBC Sport quotes the 28-year-old as saying. "Maybe he [Mourinho] doesn't have strikers to his liking. I'm happy to have liberated us. I haven't been given my chance much this season and I've taken it. I'm not out for revenge."
Ba is right in suggesting that he has not been give the chance to show what he is capable of: just two starts in the Premier League and one in the Champions League. Then again, maybe during training the Senegal international forward just did not do enough to convince Mourinho to have faith in him.
Or maybe, it has got to do with the fact that Ba is not really a big-name world-class player and perhaps not a player the Portuguese boss would have signed in the first place. Remember, Ba was recruited from Newcastle United in January 2013 by Mourinho’s predecessor at Stamford Bridge: a certain Rafael Benitez, someone with whom Mourinho simply does not get along with.