“Boring boring Chelsea” rang around the King Power Stadium on Wednesday night. The Chelsea fans had taken it back, just as the players had the night before on social media. What began as a criticism of Chelsea’s more conservative approach to football had quickly been flipped and turned into a joke. Is this a joking matter though?
By Tom Wilde – Lead Football Writer – @TWilde91
The boring label was levelled at Chelsea because of their 30% possession performance against Manchester United and their less than adventurous approach to the match with Arsenal the following week. Mourinho laughed off the suggestion though, insisting that maybe one day the team with the most possession will be classed the winner of the football match and “we’ll just enjoy people passing the ball”.
Mourinho wasn’t the only one to dismiss the notion, as Sky’s punditry team quickly leapt to his defence. Martin Tyler was literally chuckling in commentary at the suggestion that Chelsea were boring. Gary Neville, too, jumped to Chelsea’s defence. He must have forgotten about Puskas’ Hungary, Cruyff’s Holland and Socrates’ Brazil when he said that “nobody remembers exciting losers.”
Neither Tyler or Neville are wrong when they say that Chelsea deserve to win this league though. No-one of a sound mind can claim that Chelsea are not deserving champions. They have without doubt been the most consistent, efficient and best team this season. The real problem is being overlooked here though. “Boring boring Chelsea” speaks of a wider, more serious issue.
The issue is that Chelsea, when faced with serious opposition be it domestically or in Europe, approach the game with fear and trepidation. This has been Mourinho’s way for his whole career. Allow the opposition to play, while we wait for a mistake and pounce. The match that ended Liverpool’s title aspirations last season is the perfect example of this.
For Mourinho, winning is everything, and he doesn’t care if he ruins your Super Sunday viewing as long as he gets the result he wants. Many people will agree that winning is the be all and end all and that is all that matters. However, if this were true then there would be no point in turning up or tuning in to watch football. Everyone would simply check the full time result.
Football is a form of entertainment, of fun, and by definition it has to be about more than winning. A club like Chelsea, with hundreds of millions of pounds worth of players at their disposal have a responsibility to provide entertainment for fans who pay so much money to watch their team play, be it in person or on TV.
There’s a reason why all of the top clubs have been trying to emulate Barcelona’s model of the past seven years – because it’s entertaining. Mourinho’s style is a wonderfully efficient way to win football matches, but with the tools at their disposal it should be a given that they go out to try and beat the best sides, and do it with a bit of style.
Watching Chelsea play for a goalless draw on Sunday afternoon and then celebrate the result was bordering on embarrassing. Just as it was watching them let United have 70% possession at Stamford Bridge. They have an arsenal of players that are potentially capable of blowing United and Arsenal away, but chose not to try this.
With so much of his personal fortune invested in Chelsea, it’s amazing to think that Roman Abramovich is content to watch it happen. Many seem to have forgotten that it was his lust for a more attractive, entertaining brand of football that led him to sack Mourinho in 2008. With the money he’s poured into Chelsea he should expect to be entertained.
While Mourinho was at Real Madrid, his league-winning side of 11/12 played some of the most expansive, entertaining football of any Real Madrid team in years. He is more than capable of playing with flair. His mantra is to minimise the risk of losing though, and to do this he must sacrifice style, as playing with style carries more risk.
Chelsea are going to be crowned champions if they beat Crystal Palace today, but when people think back to the best teams in Premier League history, this Chelsea side won’t be remembered too fondly. Mourinho is a world class manager and he will rightly go down in history as one of the best. His way of winning comes at a heavy price though.
Long after people have forgotten Mourinho’s 1-0 wins, they’ll still be talking about Hungary’s Magnificent Magyars and the Brazil of 1982. Proving that there’s more to football than just the result.