October 23rd 2016. Chelsea V Man United was obviously the standout fixture this early in the campaign. “You cannot delete me from Chelsea’s history.” said a defiant Mourinho. But for United fans, you want to know what the best part of yesterday’s game was? The buildup. With the amazing previews being aired all round, united fans were actually given hope. We were made to believe that for a brief second, we were actually as good as Chelsea. That we could go toe to toe with them never mind the fact that we were winless in seven games (now 8) at Stamford.
The touchy atmosphere was not made any easier by the mixed reaction when Mourinho first walked out. However there was nothing mixed about Chelsea’s performances with Cahill’s man made runway epitomizing the dominance. They were not holding back. A goal 30 seconds in, before any united player had even touched the ball, set the tone. José was definitely not ready. The defensive play was now out of the window. He simply had to go out. That was definitely going to be hard to do with someone like Fellaini in the middle of the pack. A labored midfielder who’s insistence on a first,second and third touch is up against a Chelsea midfield closing down the opposition in a flash.
The other factor coming into play is Zlatan Ibrahimović. The man has accomplished so much and what he has achieved in club football is nothing short of astonishing. However he seems to have hit a bit of a rut. In the last five premier league games he has as many goals as Assists: 0. He has 23 shots off target, 17 fouls and 2 yellows. The premier league seems to have finally stopped the ‘god to be’. He keeps drifting out of the box where he’s essentially more dangerous. He comes out to an already crowded midfield and 8 times out of 10 he will lose the ball. He needs to pull up his performances or they’ll be a very simple reason to drop him.
Pogba is also not an attacking midfielder and he failed to create any chance in the whole game. We get the whole price tag thing and that is something he has to live with. The banter boys are not going to go away until he actually starts to perform. And FFS man you don’t have to spin before you pass. He’s putting the whole team at risk. Certainly not worth that ridiculous amount. On the other hand, Kante had an 85% passing accuracy, 5 interceptions, 2 blocks and two chances created. Worth every penny. LEVELS
I’ve held this argument before where I’ve described Chelsea as our bogey team. How this keeps getting unnoticed I don’t know because if you look at the statistics, Chelsea have garnered 70 points from United. The next team is Arsenal with 50 point. Mind the difference. This is getting out of hand. Watch us struggle to get a point in the second leg. 0-0
The sore thumb in this scenario has to be United’s defence. Shambolic to say the least. “Mourinho termed it as incredible defensive mistakes. INCREDIBLE to be more precise. However if we are to expound this it would simply be Chris Smalling. He looked out of sorts yesterday but I wasn’t surprised. Smalling has always imploded on the big occasions. He played an active hand in all of Chelsea’s goals. He was definitely Chelsea’s most creative player bar hazard. He failed to deal with the seemingly harmless Marcos Alonso ball which Pedro beat Blind for pace and went past a hapless De Gea, lost his marker for Cahill’s second albeit a deflection, was ridiculously used as a De Gea blind for Hazard’s third and ultimately fell for Kante piece of trickery, not exactly such a flamboyant player and his left foot is the weaker one. What was Smalling thinking falling for that? Nothing it seems. After that performance perhaps life on the bench would have been eagerly waiting for him but an injury to Bailly sets Mourinho’s team even further back.
Bringing us to our final point; Mourinho. His character will now be tested as his first choice Centre back is now out injured. The games are still coming thick and fast so it remains to be seen if he will look towards Phil Jones or go for last season’s partnership. The Portuguese is also slowly but surely losing it. We knew there was a danger this might happen especially with Mourinho but I guess we didn’t see it coming this early. He started referring to pundits as ‘football geniuses’. Terming himself a charitable man and if his antics were feeding the pundits’ families, why should he shy away from them. A move that didn’t go well with the British media. Recently he has looked a man devoid of confidence. One must wonder, is the pressure that comes with the united job finally catching up to him? His first press release he looked relaxed, confident and fresh. 8 games in and he looks worn out and shaggy, mumbling to his lonely self across the touchline. His expressions were captured each time Chelsea sunk a dagger deeper into United’s hearts and it was nothing short of disheartening
What’s happened to the Mourinho of ages? The man who would chew your head off for losing a ball let alone being responsible for a goal. He was quick in altering his tactics in real time as problems appeared. Yesterday he had his hands in his pocket, unmoved by Chelsea’s excellence/ United’s woefulness. Hands in his pocket, mumbling away and the occasional sip from his bottle and instructing the substitutes to warm up every ten minutes but did not make a substitution until half time.
Scenes after the fulltime whistle of him whispering into Conte’s ear didn’t make it any better and when quizzed, “You know me: I spoke to Conte, not to you I’m not the kind of guy to come here and share with you things I don’t want to share. What is between me and Antonio is for us … or up to him to talk if he wants to. That is his problem. I have no comment.”
These antics will certainly not help his quest for greatness and with a dispirited Man City and a dangerous Burnley on the way with Arsenal also on the horizon, Mourinho needs to do a clean-up of his act really quick… really fast.