The Premier League season is approaching it’s conclusion with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea already crowned Champions. Some might even say that the league was won when Chelsea maintained their superior position over the Christmas period.
As I’ve said before, one either loves or hates Jose Mourinho. All opinions on him as a person aside, it can’t be denied he is head and shoulders above every other manager in the league and, perhaps, in the world in terms of tactical genius. His influence on this current Chelsea side has been huge even if it is the players who earn the praise.
Besides his characteristic attacks towards the media, the Chelsea manager has handled most interviews and conferences well this year which is only an aspect of his success. Whenever doubted, he has persisted to defend and praise his players each time he speaks publicly, which is so important given how it gives the players the confidence to play freely. He has shared this praise throughout the entire team to ensure each man feels as though he is making a valid contribution. In a League Cup victory against Liverpool, I recall him praising Ramires’s return to form as opposed to the win itself; he has very much incoorperted a family feel and a sense of unity within the squad which is visible on the pitch.
Against each of the top sides, he has conjured a specific game plan which has paid off consistently. The success from this means he won’t be at all bothered by the claims that his side are ‘boring’. He has shown confidence in his players to set up very defensively in a way that still presents Chelsea as in control of the game. His style draws on the old cliche defending from the front with both Willian and Hazard consistently putting in their defensive work which allows them to pick the ball up in deep positions and travel forward to start the attack- playing to their strengths. This set up has given Chelsea the capability to move from defence into attack within a split second with the added bonus that they have the world class players to lead these attacks.
Mourinho has also avoided the temptation to regularly rotate his line up in the same way other sides have, meaning the players have become so accustomed to playing together in the same formation every week. They have been fortunate enough to avoid lots of injuries to key players but even then there have been suitable replacements. An example of this tactical brilliance has to be against Man City earlier on in the season; they allowed City to play their passing game around the Chelsea half by holding a deep line. They invited more City players to join the attack, leaving them exposed to the pace of Hazard, Costa and Willian in attack.
As the season has progressed, each victory appears to be greeted with the label a ‘Chelsea master class’. Forget the flair of Hazard or Costa- the true key to their dominance has been their ability to commit to these tactics by maintaining their shape and understanding the roles throughout the team, making them a solid outfit. The only occasion I have seen this exposed was against Harry Kane of Spurs, which, perhaps, tells us just how good the young lad is?
Mourinho knows how to earn a draw and knows how to win which has become more evident towards the end of the season as Chelsea have become more efficient as opposed to ruthless. The idea that they aren’t putting 100% into attack is surely scary for the other sides the think about?
His faith in John Terry has revived the former England skipper’s career, reminding everyone of how he is probably the best centre half in the league at this moment in time. Having studies Chelsea, I believe they are capable of dominating English football for years to come.
Congratulations Chelsea and bring on next season!