According to Brendan Rodgers, his former mentor Jose Mourinho “parked two buses” in front of the free flowing Liverpool attack over the weekend. It was clear from Rodgers’ comments that he was not impressed with Jose’s tactics.
“We were the better team with the ball. We just could not unlock them.”
Well unfortunately Brendan, merely being impressive with the ball does not win matches. The reality is Liverpool have simply slipped up. (That is the only Steven Gerrard joke that will appear in this article, I promise.)
Jose Mourinho proved once and for all he is a tactical genius.
Over the last week or so, since Chelsea have taken on both Atletico Madrid and Liverpool and I have had numerous discussions with people about whether parking the bus is the worst form of management or tactical smarts.
Mourinho is paid to win football matches. And he is expected to win the big ones. So why should he be chastised for parking the bus? People may not be impressed by his negative tactics and it is far from the most entertaining viewing in the world, but they earned him an excellent away draw against the La Liga table toppers and a win against the most in-form team in the Premier League.
“We were the team that tried to win the game,”
Rodgers fumed after the game. Chelsea, despite setting out a defensive stall from the first whistle, were also trying to win. And that they did. Just with a different style. All Liverpool needed from that game was a single point and the title would still be very much in their hands yet they insisted on gung-ho recklessness.
Everyone has praised Liverpool’s style of play this season, including myself, and at times it has been breathtaking football. However, what Chelsea did against Liverpool was a style of football far less entertaining, but just as impressive and those who say Mourinho’s anti-football isn’t designed to win games are wrong.
“Just putting 10 players right on your 18-yard box is not difficult to coach.”
I would disagree Mr Rodgers.
The way Chelsea played on Sunday was the result of a tactical masterclass class from Jose Mourinho and while he will deservedly take plaudits for the win, his players also deserve special praise. The discipline needed to go out and keep such a rigid and demanding shape, despite it going against almost every creative bone in their bodies is massive. It is a testament to how well drilled Chelsea’s ‘weakened’ team were and how hard the players worked.
Chelsea never lost shape throughout the game and took their chances, few as they may have been, when they came.
In contrast, Liverpool were far from composed. Something they so often are. And while Brendan Rodgers may be bitter and sour sounding he really has no reason to be. While Chelsea remained disciplined and in control, Liverpool seemed to crumble. After realizing they couldn’t break Chelsea down they started taking shots from everywhere seemingly hoping for a miracle. Yet Chelsea kept to their task of upsetting the Liverpool team with time wasting and ‘19th Century’ football. They upset the Liverpool players and gave the Kopites very little to shout about.
In Anfield if you dismantle Liverpool’s attack, and keep the crowd quiet you will beat Liverpool. And that is what Chelsea set out to do. It was very much a mission completed.
The ‘disrupt and frustrate’ model that Mourinho has deployed for the Liverpool match means the title race is now (once again) blown wide open. That in itself is a reason to be cheerful. So while others complain and criticize Mourinho for his ‘anti-football’ tactics I can’t help but be glad he parked that bus.
Save me a seat down the back, Jose.
Steve Neville, Pundit Arena.