Years ago, the great Jose Mourinho made a remarkable statement regarding his knowledge when judging a footballer.
In his very own fashion, he confidently said that he only needed 10 minutes to judge whether a player is good enough or not.
"In 10 minutes you can show a lot. A lot. You can show you are ready, you are mentally ready, you are physically ready, you are ready to cope with the pressure, you are not the kind of guy that is ready to train and play against kids of your own age but not be ready to play at the high level. Ten minutes can say a lot."
When such a statement was told by one of the best managers of all time, it's difficult to disagree. As his record of developing talents was impeccable.
He had every reason to say so. His past experience obviously supports his statement.
Fast forward a few years later, he had Kevin De Bruyne at his disposal. Interestingly, he didn’t really use him and let the club sold him for profit as they would say. Back then, obviously we wouldn’t have known that Kevin was going to be a hell of a player he is today.
That made the Portuguese statement seems ridiculous, and it somehow tainted Mourinho's 10 minutes rule.
In another event, it is rumored that he ousted Mo Salah from Chelsea "to come back when you can play football" when he was disappointed with how the Egyptian played. In 2015, In not so unpredictable manner, he admitted that he didn’t need Salah at Chelsea after his loan at Fiorentina.
"We have five wingers and it is better not to have Salah back".
TROUBLE WITH (OVER)CONFIDENCE
This is not an attempt to insult Mourinho at all. Let alone dismissing his success as a manager. So I won't talk about his clarification that he rated De Bruyne and Salah, and it’s the players and the Chelsea board's decision to sell them.
This is about the decision of the football manager. And being a successful one, allowed him to made his 10 minutes rule with confidence.
When you have the reputation of Mourinho, people may agree with you and said that 10 minutes rule is a genius judgement. But when people saw what happened with De Bruyne and Salah under Mourinho, you may be questioning his talent-judging ability.
And if you're Roman Abramovic, you're justified to worry about his ability to manage your club. Worry that he might oust your best players that can weaken your quality, while strengthening your rivals.
Football manager is a unique job, but nothing different compared to so many experienced professionals, who make decisions confidently, which sometimes can become catastrophic too.
The case of confidence when you have past success, really close to being overconfident. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman said that if his financial advisor is too optimistic, he’s not interested. Because many times, being too optimistic or confident, leads the decision to the ashtray.
The optimism from an experienced professionals doesn't change the fact that the decision might go wrong.
In fact, when we have strong experience on certain issue, we tend to believe in our intuition when making judgments rather than learning or fact-checking anymore. Disregarding relevant information, like advice from other experts and data, that we should consider.
It’s what we should actually be aware of. Just because someone has a strong background and years of experience, doesn't necessarily mean he’s going to predict everything right. With the special one being the perfect example – he was right in judging a lot of players, but he was also wrong in many of them.
That’s what happens to a lot of professionals, and that’s simply human beings as well.
ERROR IN JUDGEMENT
Humans tend to make an error in judgment through bias, or randomly scattered consideration called noise.
Take Sarri for example. Regardless of people’s opinion on Jorginho, it's clear that Sarri wanted him thanks to his past collaboration at Napoli. The hypothetical question would be: was there anyone better than Jorgi available at that time that Chelsea could've bought? Or was Jorgi's decision to join Chelsea was better than to join Pep's city (financially at least)?
This is a form of bias between Sarri and Jorgi. Their past collaboration played a major part in determining both of their decisions. In this case, we can consider Jorginho was right to choose Chelsea because he won the Champions League recently. However, we can also consider Jorginho was wrong to reject Manchester City because he could’ve won Premier League with them. Although it’s hypothetical, it’s still a possible scenario of his decision.
Another example is Antonio Conte spell at the bridge. Remember when Chelsea was linked to the likes of Biabiany, Candreva, and finally signed Zappacosta in his second stint? It's easy to recall these players as average now. But looking back in his first season, Chelsea’s decision not to sign right wing back put Conte in a situation where he had to pick Moses as his emergency wing back. And we know how that ended - with Moses being linked to Barcelona as a replacement to Dani Alves, and Zappacosta wasn’t really better than him too.
This is not about how we shouldn’t sign new players. But signing nobody is arguably better than signing wrong players expensively.
Being a successful manager, of course, make Thomas Tuchel has his own wishlist of players that he hopes to be fulfilled by Chelsea.
And being one of the most successful managers in Chelsea history, it’s normal for him to really wish his requested signings to be materialized.
Now the typical question would be: should we back Tuchel 100% on signing his desired players? Is it the right thing to do?
Backing a manager is really important. Especially when you have someone like Tuchel at the helm. However, backing a manager’s wishlist doesn't guarantee that the players are gonna come good. With Mourinho and Conte cases for the example respectively.
Sometimes, leaving the gaffer with an available option like Conte and Moses is the best option. In addition, Tuchel and Di Mateo won the big ears without new signings. Instead, they work with players at their disposal to the limit. Even Frank Lampard had a better first season under a transfer ban, rather than his second despite signings big-name players.
Again, I’m not saying we don’t need to spend. But we need to spend correctly, based on the best judgment of all the parties involved. Including Tuchel himself, his glorious experience can lead him to make an error in his judgment.
Some will suggest sign big players or sign nobody, some say sign players just for the sake of signings, and some other don't want a new signing because they believe with what we already have, be it the kids or the seniors. And this is not about all that.
Assuming that Tuchel wants Kounde, is it the right decision to spend that amount of money on him? Will he upgrade our backline? It’s a big and risky decision and we know that £70m signing is not going to sit on the bench for long, even when he’s not performing.
Because £70m is a massive investment that you don’t want to put on your bench. And being requested by Tuchel, of course he had to prove that Kounde is a money well-spent.
This is also not an attempt to undermine Jules Kounde’s ability. We can also apply similar thought to other Chelsea targets such as Declan Rice et al.
Before we sign any players, it's important to consider every important aspect, yet dismissing unrelated ones.
Tuchel’s demand for Kounde and other targets should be analyzed properly. Is it because he watched all of his games? Or several appearances? Does he judge Kounde correctly? Is it based on data and statistics?
In the end, Tuchel is like any other experienced professionals - tends to make a bad judgment as well when being (over)confident. Especially when he just won the champions league where he has all the bragging rights to showcase his ambition by demanding more top players.
In short, we shouldn’t sign Kounde just because Tuchel wants him. But we should sign him if he ticks all the relevant boxes.
It is not about not supporting Tuchel's desired athlete, nor am I dismissing Tuchel’s knowledge on judging talents. But more about avoiding wrong decision-making for the club.
The keywords here are "assuming that Kounde is Tuchel’s request". If Kounde is targeted by Marina, McLachlan, or whoever, a similar rule applies. They need to make sure that their judgment on players is comprehensive enough. As we know Chelsea tends to sign players without approval from the head coach too.
In conclusion, whoever player the club wants to sign, that player must be carefully scouted, researched, and analyzed with relevant information. At the end of the day, bad judgment can affect the club. Both financially and non-financially.
We don't want to end up like Barcelona, do we?
Up the Chels!