There is no arguing that Jose Mourinho is one of the most successful managers in the world and that his track record over the past ten years is second to none. As someone who has supported Chelsea for longer than I care to remember, I’ve seen a lot of managers come and go and will forever be grateful for his first spell at the Bridge. He is rightly hailed for his achievements.
Does this track record mean he should be beyond criticism? I would argue that he has made some serious mistakes this year, and that these mistakes are the reason Chelsea have failed to win a trophy for only the third time in a decade.
Just for the record, I think Mourinho is (or, at least, has been) an amazing manager, but I am wondering if the "Pragmatic One", which is how I think of him, has lost his mojo?
So here are the seven big mistakes that I believe have led to Jose’s second trophyless season in succession:
Putting all his Chips on Wayne Rooney
Betting everything on signing Rooney was crazy. Did anyone in their right mind think that the Old Trafford brain trust would let him go? Jose should definitely have seriously targeted another striker or two.
Letting Lukaku go out on Loan
Given that Rooney was not available, why compound the issue by letting Lukaku go out on loan? Anyone who has watched Torres since he has been at Chelsea could have assured Jose that He wouldn’t suddenly discover his pre-injury Liverpool form. Is Lukaku the finished article? Maybe not, but he’s the best striker we have.
Betting Everything on Oscar (and then Letting Mata Leave)
Oscar is an incredible player and started the season wonderfully well. Asking someone his age to carry the entire creative burden in the center of midfield, however, was completely unrealistic. Oscar has played a huge amount of football over the past few years and, at age 22, is still too young to have that level of responsibility week after week.
Unsurprisingly, Oscar’s form tailed off and Chelsea have not had anyone to pick up the creative slack. I would argue that, in addition to the lack of a top-class striker, this is the primary reason Chelsea have failed to break down teams that "park the bus" to use the current vernacular. Of course, Chelsea did have a player like that, but Juan Mata was deemed surplus to requirements.
Failing to Introduce a Definitive Style of Football
Gary Neville said part-way through the season that he had no idea what style of football Mourinho was trying to introduce. Now the season is over, you could still say the same thing. Here is my best description: counter-attacking football against any team that’s any good and god-knows-what and complete-exercise in-futility football whenever a team "parks the bus". Heck, even Chelsea’s best player seems to think Mourinho isn’t interested in playing decent football. Hardly a ringing endorsement!Being a Tad Hypocritical
It is unbelievable that Jose can be so critical of Sam Allardyce for playing "19the Century Football" (and, by extension, Villa, Palace, Sunderland, Norwich etc.) and proceed to play the same style whenever he plays against an opponent that he fears. Come on Jose, let’s not be hypocritical.
Not Trying to Get a Goal at the Calderon
It is conventional wisdom that an away goal in Europe is highly desirable and often absolutely key to progressing. Why, then, did Jose set up so extraordinarily defensively against Atletico? Chelsea didn’t even look like they were interested in scoring. I have always thought that 0-0 away from home is a dangerous result – and so it proved.
Criticizing His Players in Public
If you want to keep your players motivated, this is a complete "no-no". Praise all you want in public, however, you should keep all criticism private. This is Management 101.
Jose – you are a great manager, but you are better than this. A lot of Chelsea fans will forgive you anything. I say, own up to your mistakes, learn from them and prove that you are still the best manager in the world by winning us the Premiership and Champions League next year. Oh, and maybe play some exciting football along the way.