English football expert Seth Williams explains why Chelsea will not win the title under Jose Mourinho…
Jose Mourinho doesn’t know his best team…
Even at this point in the season, the Portuguese boss is juggling his starting lineup.
The key to his previous title winning sides at Chelsea (the first time around), and Inter Milan; was deploying a consistent, small tight-knit group. While he did rotate his squad when managing these sides, any football fan could predict virtually the exact lineup Mourinho would turn to for must-win matches.
Now, there are essentially only three or four guaranteed starters in the Blues squad: Ramires in midfield, Petr Cech in goal, Branislav Ivanovic in defence, and maybe Eden Hazard as an attacking midfielder.
Apart from that, Terry, Cahill and Ivanovic are fighting for the centre-back slots, Ashley Cole has been dropped at left-back for probably the first time in his career, Frank Lampard is rested every other week, and Willian, Oscar, Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne and Andre Schurrle are fighting for two attacking midfield slots alongside Hazard. Up top, Mourinho doesn’t seem to rate either Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o or Demba Ba very highly, and he loaned out Romelu Lukaku, who’s scored more league goals than any of his current forwards.
It’s impossible to keep a group that size happy…
While squad depth is important, especially considering the many European and cup fixtures the Blues will have to play, Chelsea’s squad is almost too good.
As discussed earlier, the attacking midfield talent is just phenomenal. But unlike last season, where squad players fought to play alongside Mata and Hazard, now every player has a legitimate claim for a starting spot. Andre Schurrle cost £20m and is bagging goals for Germany at international level. Willian cost £33m and scored a wondergoal against Norwich. Oscar is Brazil’s no.10. De Bruyne shone in the Bundesliga last season. Mata has won Chelsea’s Player of the Year award for two years in a row. This is without mentioning Eden Hazard, who seems the only player Mourinho completely trust as a guaranteed attacking starter.
How on earth could any manager keep that much talent happy?!
His defence isn’t half what it once was…
During his first stint at Chelsea, the Blues finished the season with the best defensive record in Premier League history. He never rotated his defence, and based it on a brilliant Terry/Carvalho partnership, in front of Cech, protected by Claude Makelele in an anchoring midfield role.
This season, Mourinho has chopped and changed his centre-backs, and Petr Cech has even looked prone to a mistake.
Ramires has played well, but he is more of a box-to-box midfielder than a purely defensive force, so doesn’t provide the protection that Makelele once did.
While this all makes Chelsea’s football a lot prettier to watch, it hasn’t been entirely conducive to results this term.
Chelsea have no width…
Arguably, this is Chelsea’s biggest problem. All of their attacking midfielders prefer to operate from a central role. Oscar is a no.10, Mata is a no.10, and Hazard and Willian both like to start on the left but cut in on their right-feet.
While this is not uncommon to modern day football, it has made the Blues one dimensional at times. If a Premier League side sits very deep, it becomes difficult to break them down through the middle, as matches against Everton, Newcastle and West Brom have already showed this term.
Robben and Duff excelled at Chelsea during Mourinho’s first stint as exciting dribbling wingers. Both were capable of cutting inside, but vitally, could also take the fullback down the outside. They would similarly be happy to hug the touch-line and stretch sides.
Chelsea’s current attacking midfielders have a tendency to drift inside in search of possession rather than stay wide.
Of course, the Blues could prove me wrong, as they could arguably win the title with two different starting lineups! No manager has ever managed to keep that many attacking players happy though, and if Mourinho doesn’t establish a regular defence, the Blues will finish 2nd or 3rd this term.