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On ‘big team’ expectations, projects, and accepting defeat at Chelsea

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Getting used to the new reality

FBL-EUR-C1-C3-SUPERCUP-BAYERN MUNICH-CHELSEA Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images

José Mourinho is unemployed, though he moonlights as a pundit on occasion. It’s all part of his plan to rehabilitate his image and reputation, some might (correctly) say. His last few actual appointments may have exposed him as a bit of a dinosaur, so he’s got some work to do. He’s a changed man, he would tell you.

In any case, The Special Once was on Sky this weekend again, casting his 10-minute eye over the proceedings at Stamford Bridge, which saw Chelsea concede two stupid set piece goals — well, one stupid and one rather well-taken — and then fail to convert a multitude of decent-to-good chances to complete what would’ve been a well deserved comeback.

Chelsea vs. Liverpool: xG Timing Chart
Understat

Another home defeat for Frank Lampard then. Another “moral” victory. We played well, but not consistently well enough. We did not get the result we “deserved”, but there are signs of promise. And so on and so forth.

Some might call it “loser talk”, worth exactly zero points, which is what we got.

“When you start accepting defeats just because your team played well and just because your players gave their best and they had a performance for people to be proud of in terms of that attitude and commitment… I think when you get used to it is when the big clubs stop to be big clubs.”

Mourinho is of course correct, and that quote has spread like wildfire on social media, usually accompanied by an image of Frank Lampard applauding the support at Stamford Bridge, which was quite fantastic, it should definitely be noted.

But you might not be surprised that Mourinho provided the proper context for his supposed “warning” for Chelsea and Frank Lampard. You might not even be surprised that it’s quite reasonable and understanding of the actual situation. A changed man indeed.

Mourinho prefaced the above quote with:

“I hope they don’t get used to it. That’s a very important thing.”

And bookended it with:

“So I don’t think they get used to it. But I think it shows that people are ready for what this season is going to be for them.”

The discussion about expectations this season at Chelsea has been a pertinent one ever since it became clear that the club would not be appealing to CAS to freeze FIFA’s transfer ban decision, and would end up submitting only the part of the appeal that hopes to have the ban cut in half (i.e. able to do business as usual in January). Let’s at least avoid relegation, shall we?

Frank Lampard Announced As New Manager Of Chelsea Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Chelsea/Jose Mourinho Press Conference Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images

Reports from Chelsea insiders had made it clear that Lampard would not only be given more time than any other manager before him in the Abramovich Era, but that he would be spearheading the long-awaited youth revolution, just as envisioned a decade and a half ago, when plans for a world class youth academy and training facilities at Cobham were first drawn up. As much as Abramovich wanted to win and was willing to finance wins, he also set long-term goals of sustainability, self-funding, and homegrown excellence.

It’s an ideal that Mourinho himself was and is surely well aware of after two spells at the club, even if he himself was not exactly the right man for that project either in 2004 or in 2013.

“You look today at the reality of the performance and the reality of the result, you look at the numbers — Liverpool is 10 points ahead of Chelsea. So let’s make it clear and objective: Chelsea is not going to fight for the title.

“So let’s support what looks like is their philosophy which is to give time for the team, for the players, for the manager, to grow together.”

That’s right. José Mourinho, the greatest, most pragmatic win-at-any-and-all-cost manager of our time is advocating for patience, for understanding, for faith in Lampard, Chelsea, and the youth. For looking beyond just the results, which leave Chelsea languishing in mid-table, with two of each possible match-outcomes after six tries, a negative goal difference, and just eight points. (Same as Spurs and Manchester United, hilariously enough.)

And Mourinho even believes that the fickle mob can get behind it all as well, thanks in part to the fact that it’s being led by Frank Lampard. (Not even carefree David Luiz was willing to give the fans that much leeway, before giving the whole thing even less himself and jumping ship.)

“These people are ready to support one of the best professionals I have ever worked with and a manager with potential and I think they’re ready to accept what this season is going to be.”

-José Mourinho; source: Sky via Metro

We all know what Frank’s about, and we believe he wants his football to reflect that as well, especially at Chelsea. He’s said so himself, many times. All the players match those trophy-winning and trophy-challenging intentions as well. Lampard’s a winner. And a worker. But he needs time. He needs faith. He needs patience. Trust the process, as the cliche goes.

It is okay to take positives from a losing performance against a title favorite. It is okay for now. It is okay to be okay. It won’t be okay in the future. But we have to get there first.

Chelsea FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images