Jose Mourinho explains that to win matches, you need to play to your team’s strengths.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has recently come under criticisms for the ‘negative football’ that his team have been playing. In their past two matches, the Blues have been accused of ‘parking the bus’ and of ‘killing football’.
Last week the Premier League giants were clearly set out to defend, defend and defend against Atletico Madrid. And they got a very good result: a 0-0 draw away from home in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final tie places them in a great position to progress to the final.
Then on Sunday Mourinho crafted a tactically brilliant gameplan to pick up maximum points at Liverpool and maintain their charge towards the league title. Now, there are suggestions that the Portuguese could deploy a similar tactic against Atletico and book a place in the final of Europe’s premier club competition.
Mourinho has never been apologetic of his style of football or the approach he takes before key matches. This time he has not gone off the script. Speaking ahead of the big game against Atletico, Mourinho made sarcastic comments about ‘football philosophers’ who have a certain way of playing and never deviate from it.
‘You know, at this moment, football is full of philosophers - people who understand much more than me, people with fantastic theories and philosophies’, The Mirror quotes the 51-year-old as saying. ‘It’s amazing. But the reality is always the reality: a team that doesn’t defend well or doesn’t score lots of goals, if they concede lots of goals, is completely in trouble. A team without balance is not a team.
‘When they have the ball, we have to try and stop them scoring. When we have the ball, we want to try and score. This is football - the football that I know. I remember saying in my first period here: if you have a goalkeeper like Petr Cech who puts the ball in the opponents’ box, and a striker like Didier Drogba who wins everything in the air, why play short? Because you are stupid?
‘If your opponents are very fast on the counter and want space behind your defensive line, if you give them that space you are stupid. It seems that 10, 20, 30 years ago, when a team played strategically, thinking about their team and the qualities of the opponent, it was good, intelligent football. But now, at this moment, depending on the coach and the club obviously, the critics speak’.
Mourinho is spot on about playing to your team’s strengths. If your players are better at defending than at attacking, then why waste valuable resources in trying to attack? Moreover, the best team is the one that is balanced and knows how to defend and how to attack.
Of course, as a neutral you would want to watch free-flowing attacking football and not have teams play out a dull 0-0 draw. Yet, you have to admire the art of defending. After all, as they say: ‘Strikers win matches, but defences win championships’.