Chelsea‘s campaign in the UEFA Champions League did not quite end with a whimper, but it certainly didn’t end with the bang that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was hoping for.
After the Blues held the rampaging Atletico Madrid side in check in the first-leg, they were expected to have the upper hand over Atletico Madrid. Unfortunately, Diego Simeone didn’t quite get the script and what transpired was a rather one-sided walk in the park, after Atletico shook off some tough Chelsea probing in the first half.
Game changins substitution by Mourinho works against Chelsea
Jose Mourinho has been known to thrown on a game-changing substitution. And so he brought on Eto’o instead of Ashley Cole, and it definitely worked – in favor of Atletico. Eto’o failed to make an impression, and conceded the penalty that saw Chelsea have to thrown their plans to the wind. It was a cautiously taken penalty by Diego Costa who made sure to keep everyone on the edge of their seats, by complaining about everything in sight until the referee showed him a yellow card for driving him nuts.
Costa duly obliged, after which Chelsea’s increased desperation showed they had no other real game plan. The Blues certainly weren’t expecting to be shell-shocked in the manner they were, when Adrian Lopez took advantage of some lax defending by Hazard to drive straight past Schwarzer. Arda Turan put the game to rest with a third and quite well-taken goal, to deny Chelsea their second Champions League final appearance in 3 years.
To give you an idea of just how good Atletico Madrid was, they defeated England’s strongest team in European competitions over the last few years at Stamford Bridge with quite a comfortable margin and without attempting to eke out a draw with which to progress on away-goals. They did it fair and square, and Chelsea can have no complaints.
After Chelsea’s earlier surrender to Sunderland at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho is now quite evidently staring at a first trophy-less season with the Blues. It seems the older, more restrained Mourinho has been passed by younger talent like Simeone who is now the toast of the hour. All is still not lost for the wily Portuguese though. He remains firmly in control of the dressing room, and has the long-term backing of Roman Abramovich. The latter is especially critical because the purse strings the Russian decides to loosen will give Mourinho the shot in the arm he desperately needs.
With a strike force of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba, Chelsea don’t have a striker in the Drogba mold yet who could single-handedly change the direction of a game. Chelsea will eagerly await the signing of Diego Costa, whose addition to the side might just spark a renewed belief up front.
Finding another striker to play off of him, will be slightly more complex since Chelsea is overloaded in the midfield department leaving Eden Hazard most likely to be the one bumped up. Hazard impressed in the second leg, returning as he did from a calf injury sustained recently, even if his defending was suspect and responsible – in part – for two of Atletico’s goals. He isn’t in any immediate danger of losing his position like Mata did, merely on the grounds of defensive mix-up but Mourinho’s known to be more forgiving of other flaws in a player than this one.
So does Jose Mourinho deserve blame for anything?
Mourinho took his own nudge-nudge-wink-wink assertions that Chelsea weren’t a finished product yet to heart. Sometimes a line meant as misdirection can backfire spectacularly when the proponent begins to take comfort from it. Having washed his hands publicly of Chelsea’s potential for success this season, Mourinho was convinced he no longer needed to prove anything.
So he persisted with a shoddy strike-force comprised of bits that wouldn’t gel together, and then said so as much in a recording that deprived his strikers of any inclination to perform above their current abilities. It was fitting then that it was a striker he brought on that let the team down with an ill-advised penalty-inducing foul inside the box.
Mourinho also set his eyes solely on the big prizes, letting Chelsea slip through the cracks in the FA Cup and the Carling trophy. When the going got tough the Blues surrendered just as meekly on the national and European stages. When Chelsea needed a manager to push them on multiple fronts, Mourinho bought himself time so that he would have another season in which to operate under. When Chelsea needed a manager to go up to under-performing players and lie to them about how great they truly were, they got a secret voice recording instead. When Chelsea needed to step up and fill the void left by Manchester United’s fall from grace, Chelsea let Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool in with more than a chance.
That’s why it’s called the tyranny of lower expectations.