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Football

Dreams deferred and parked buses

Jose Mourinho’s script does not vary. Every club he has managed, the modes operandi has been the same. Shift the focus from his team to himself, irritate, aggravate and niggle until everybody has taken their eyes off where they should be (at the players on the pitch) and moved them to the self-proclaimed special one.

On Sunday afternoon, Mourinho succeeded once again – lulling his opposite number Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool FC into a false sense of security with numerous whispers of a “weakened team” and how attention would be on Wednesday’s Champions League encounter against Atletico Madrid. The Chelsea team sheet was anything but weak, with international players in every position – yes, a couple of key players were absent through injury or suspension but Brendan Rodgers would have wished he had similar depth in his thin squad.

There were numerous complaints about ‘anti-football’ and Rodgers himself whined about ‘two parked busses’ in the post-game analysis, but the only finger pointing should be directed at the Liverpool manager who failed to provide a plan B for his players. Chelsea played an almost identical style against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium – disciplined defending and then looking to counter quickly when the opportunity arose. If Rodgers had studied the video of that game, it was not apparent as his team tried to play their usual quick-passing and pacy attacking game that has blitzed many before them this season.

This time, however, they were up against a well-disciplined and organized defence and there were no gaps or spaces for Suarez, Sterling and Coutinho to break into. Like Barcelona’s latter years, Liverpool were found to be a bit of a one-trick pony and had little variety to offer going forward.

Talismanic captain Steven Gerrard, who has had a fine season in the twilight of his career was ironically the one who gave Chelsea their breakthrough as he mis-controlled a pass, then slipped as he attempted to recover, which allowed Demba Ba the chance to sneak in and slot past Mignolet. As he attempted to make good his error, Gerrard spent most of the second half trying to score screamers from outside the penalty area instead of trying patiently to unlock the Chelsea defence.

Liverpool also missed the hard running and energetic presence of the suspended Jordan Henderson. However, this should not detract from a fantastic display from the Blues who followed their managers instructions and provided a near-perfect performance. The only blot in the match report was the time-wasting and gamesmanship tactics employed by Chelsea from the first whistle – although many will comment that this is what the “modern game” is all about now.

Brendan Rodgers showed his naïveté at this level – playing for the win, when a draw would have sufficed. Mourinho showed his experience at the top level by employing the correct tactics to overcome his opponent.

Liverpool fans may still dare to dream, but they need the blue half of Merseyside to do them a huge favour by beating Manchester City to have a chance of remaining in the title chase. The way results have gone this season, impossible is nothing.

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About Ticha Pfupajena

I'm beginning to get the sense that my career as a professional footballer may not happen. As a result, I'll try write about football and sports instead....

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Dreams deferred and parked buses

  1. Mourinho’s gamplan was shockingly negative. There was no intention to play football, only to defend. At any moment the full chelsea team was in their own third defending which detracted from the game.

    I agree that Rodgers should have played for a draw, and thus played possession football, held onto the ball and coaxed the team out of their shell.

    I also agree that Rodgers was naive in his approach. We can chalk it down to a manager in his second season with a new-old team. He has many years to come and to be honest i foresee many great seasons ahead, but only another title challenge in two to three years time (lots of Champs league football inbetween).

    Ironically, Salah and Willian were transfer targets for Liverpool and both played the game on Sunday. With such reserves on the bench (Willian an natural replacement for Henderson) the team would have had a better shot at the game.

    Rodgers is only beginning to build his team, and the Liverpool of the future would provide more options in game plan if not resources. And as we have seen Rodgers adjust his gameplan in 1 season, lets hope he continues to grow and not have a meltdown like the last manager who came this close (Rafa Benitez).

    Posted by sunnzactor | 29/04/2014, 15:28
  2. Brendan Rodgers did not understand that he did not need to win he just did not need to lose. Rodgers and Liverpool acted like a thirsty man celebrating the discovery of seawater.

    Posted by Farai | 29/04/2014, 22:03
  3. Agreed with your comments. I suppose Brendan Rogers will live and learn, and continue to build his team for the future. It’s not over yet for the Premier and Champions League, contests. uncle max.

    Posted by mupamombe | 30/04/2014, 14:24
  4. Jose Mourinho’s game plan against “perceived stronger” teams is to park a double decker bus in front of his goal and avoid conceding any goals. This strategy, as you rightly analysed and said, works time and time again. However when Jose tries to change this style against “perceived” weaker opposition and opens up to play a more attacking football, it backfires a number of times. This is why Chelsea have failed to win the EPL this season. They lost games to “bottom-of-the-table” teams but hardly lost any to the “top-of-the-table” teams.

    Jose also plays mind games before games and surprisingly they work. He once berated his strikers for being weak and Eto being “over-age”. Look what happens, for a few games thereafter Eto was not tightly marked and he managed to score some crucial goals.

    I am not looking forward to the EUFA all-Spanish teams final later this month. These teams play Mourinho tactics and park a bus in front of goal while relying on counter attacks. Let’s see how the game goes but I do not look forward to it as I usually do all EUFA finals.

    I hope Liverpool still manages to win the league because given the resources available to them, they have done very well indeed.

    Posted by Munya | 04/05/2014, 19:30

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