Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has defended his tactics and criticised “philosophers” who question his side’s pragmatic approach.
Chelsea had just two shots on goal in their Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid last week and spent much of the game camped en masse on the edge of their own penalty area.
Mourinho’s tactics came under fire that night and there was further criticism after their 2-0 win at Liverpool on Sunday.
But the Chelsea boss is unrepentant, mocking those who question his methods.
Mourinho said: “Football is full of philosophers, people who understand much more than me. Amazing.
“But the reality is the reality. A team that doesn’t defend well doesn’t have many chances to win.”
“If your opponents are very fast on the counter and want space behind your defensive line, if you give them that space you are stupid.
“So when a team plays strategically and [a manager] thinks about his team and the qualities of the opponent … 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, ‘good teams, intelligent teams’. In this moment – depending on the coach and the club obviously – the critics speak.”
The irony, of course is that it was Mourinho who first coined the term ‘parking the bus’. During his first spell with Chelsea he expressed his frustration with Tottenham’s defensive approach following a 0-0 draw in September 2004.
“As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal,” he said at the time.
“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.”
Mourinho returned to the theme just over a year ago, when in charge of Real Madrid. He complained about Manchester United’s defensive approach following a goalless draw at the Bernabeu.
“They came here to defend and not to concede goals or space. They didn’t play to win,” he sniped.
Go back to his time in charge of Inter, though, and the boot was on the other foot with Mourinho even apologising to supporters for his defensive approach when confronted by the same opponents.
“It is a shame for the fans who have come here and seen a 0-0, but it was still a high quality game,” he said following another goalless draw..
“If we had played further up the field, then it gives us more options in attack, but it leaves us more room behind.”
So, what conclusions can be drawn from his pronouncements and from his teams’ performances? That he is a defensive coach? Not really. Breaking La Liga goalscoring record when in charge of Real Madrid should disprove that theory. No, Mourinho is simply a pragmatic coach who uses whatever tools are available to him to win matches.
It’s been largely successful, but has won him few admirers, not least because his brand of pragmatism has been achieved at clubs whose resources ensure that success can effectively be bought. Entertainment though, that’s rather more elusive, and something that not even money can buy.