José Mourinho’s seventh ever match in charge of Chelsea was a mostly boring 0-0 draw against Jacques Santini’s (!) Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in September, 2004.
Santini, fresh off the acrimonious end to his France national team management career, and barely a month away from resigning his position at Spurs, was known for a (head-)strong, defensive, rather boring style of football. But also a winning style, as defensive styles often can be — he won the league with Lyon and got France to the quarterfinals of Euro 2004, where they lost to perhaps the most outrageously defensive winning side of all time, Greece.
Ironic, isn’t it?
Following that scoreless draw at the Bridge, where a still work-in-progress Chelsea (Arjen Robben had yet to make his debut) came closest to scoring when Eidur Gudjohnsen hit the post (though the goal probably would’ve been ruled out for offside), The Special One released into the wild one of his most iconic and enduring of all quotes — and that’s saying something.
“As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal.
“I would have been frustrated if I had been a supporter who paid £50 to watch this game because Spurs came to defend. I’m really frustrated because there was only one team looking to win, they only came not to concede — it’s not fair for the football we played.”
The parked bus has arrived, into football, into the lexicon, into the public consciousness. Mourinho would ride the Chelsea parked bus to many wins and titles, and Chelsea would internalize that option so much that we would use it eight seasons later in 2012 to climb to the very footballing heights of Europe on a fine May 19th night in Munich.
Parked buses, double-deckers, planes, traines, and automobiles are not easy to break down, after all. Hanging your hat on misplaced ideas of fairness isn’t going to get you anywhere. You deserve what you get.
Mourinho didn’t hide his frustration in 2004, but praised his players. He was well on his way to creating a winning mentality and forming what we’d come to call the Old Guard who carried on his winning legacy for many years after.
Lampard was one of the most prominent members of the Old Guard. He hid his frustrations on Sunday a bit better than Mourinho did or cared to do back then. We all expected a parked bus from José, and a parked bus is what we got. The onus was on us to break it down, and do so without conceding on the counter in the process. The latter part we did almost flawlessly. The former remains a work in progress. We were close, but no cigar.
The learning continues.