Thursday, May 1, 2014

Did Chelsea park the bus against Atletico Madrid? Me thinks not.

Give that man a Bell's. Chelsea's defeat at Stanford Bridge against Atletico Madrid in the second Champions League semi-final will not win Jose Mourinho any new friends, but please give the man a break. He is not a god of football, no matter how good he can be. As a shrewd coach of very high standards, for his status, he feels embarrassed that he had kept the cream of his team when he played against Liverpool and won with a second string side at the weekend, because he had thought that this  ammunition would come in handy today. It just came back to his face.

Atletico were tenacious and pacey. They fought with body and soul. They played like eleven devils with nothing to lose. They were worth their salt and deserved to win. This was in response to Chelsea's positive approach and attack. Let us be fair, The Blues played good attacking football, fought as a team in attack and in defence, they went forward and pried for openings and they were and are not always as defensive as many would want us to believe. It is easy to think Jose Mourinho is a bus-parker because the one moment he does it, the world stops and notices. Such is the mark of a great tactician.

He prepares the team for each situation. He tries everything he can without leaving anything to chance, though he sometimes fails to get it right. It takes a great manager to take time, split the hairs and work on detail to millimetres and milliseconds, literally. In football, sometimes even if you get it right, you do not necessarily win. The Special One is human and he errs. In this case, the mistake was to rest the best players saving them for this occasion. I understand the issue of fatigue, but match fitness and a lapse in attitude during the wait for this match on the art of players worked against him.

In the match against Atletico, one can point countless times that his central defenders were in the final third and the penalty box, and attempting to score. He abandoned bus-parking antics. A bus parking attitude is where the strikers do not leave the defending third. They passed the ball better and attacked with gusto most of the time. The timing of the second goal squeezed all wind out of their game as they never expected to trail.

Amongst a few more aspects that worked against him, fans and many neutrals had this match won by Chelsea on the basis of the away 0-0 draw in Spain before this kick-off. The players' attitude was already tuned to the final because they thought the coach had won the match for them. The reality and disappointment at the final whistle, that they will end this season with nothing makes Chelsea dangerous to play against next season. Now you have reason to believe that they will be the team to beat in the 2014/5 season.

Meanwhile, losing one match in the semi-final against leaders of La Liga does not make a manager bad. For all the toil and sweat of his charges, he deserved a little better for his ego. For a reality check, he got thumped and that makes the man dangerous for his next assignments. Just because it is Jose, he will not find many sympathisers but it is fair comment to say give the man some kudos folks. He was relishing the prospect of facing his former paymasters in Real Madrid, in Lisbon in the final.