Dubbed the special one, the chosen one or even the overlooked one, the ever-conspicuous Jose Mourinho has never been one to shy away from the spotlight. His return to England has naturally induced a frenzy among fans and press alike. The return of the rent-a-quote, self-assured leader who happens to be rather successful has not just left Chelsea fans drooling.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Yet absence can also cause one to depreciate certain negative traits. Alas, with Mourinho there are but a few although they were present at Old Trafford on Monday.
The attention of the public Mourinho so readily craves often propagate managerial successes built on tactical triumphs rather than player brilliance or artistry. By selecting Andre Schurrle as a striker, and opting for a counter-attacking approach. It seemed the Chelsea boss was so desperate to prove the force of nature that was Jose Mourinho could stop Manchester United that in the process, winning the match became secondary.
Indeed Chelsea did stop Manchester United, but rarely threatened to beat them. With Juan Mata powerlessly stranded on the bench, one could not help but think back to the way he tormented United in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last defeat as manager. Even in United’s 3-2 success at Stamford Bridge last season the Spaniard’s guile left the visitors dumbfounded for much of the encounter. With a more forthright approach and Mata in the line-up, given United’s undoubted vulnerability in midfield, surely the game would’ve been Chelsea’s for the winning.
The stalemate was by no means a bad result for Chelsea and only very brave men will bet against Mourinho achieving yet more success at Chelsea. But Monday night reminded us something about the Portuguese that in his absence may have been forgotten: functionality will always be favoured over flair.
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