Jose Mourinho and his hold over the footballing public 0

Jose Mourinho is one of the most thorough tacticians the game has ever seen.  Beyond all the bluster and the press-conference baiting, he is a remarkably astute manager whose record in the game illustrates not only his footballing acumen, but also his hold over the players he manages.

There’s no disputing any of that.

The problem, however, is that Mourinho’s greatness has spawned a relentless fawning amongst his acolytes.  There have been times in the past when his sides - most notably during his time at San Siro with Inter Milan - have won almost solely on the strength of his preparation, but there’s a danger in believing that every victory can be traced back to the same source.

Chelsea thoroughly deserved their win at Wembley yesterday, but their Capital One Cup win provided a classic example of Mourinho over-celebration.

As the players left the pitch at half-time - having just taken the lead from a set-piece - there was the familiar sound of chuntering from the Portuguese’s apologists on social media.  This was ‘classic Mourinho’, a script only he could write, a forty-five minute period only he could dream up.

Stop, stop, stop…

Over his career, one of his most pronounced traits has been to absorb pressure from an opponent and to take an unlikely lead against the run of the play - and actually, we’ve seen this current Chelsea do that in several big games over the past eighteen months (Manchester City away, twice, Liverpool at Anfield last season etc).

Yesterday wasn’t an example of that, though.  Once Chelsea had their lead, Mourinho’s restricting tactics strangled the life from Tottenham and his fingerprints were all over that second-half.  But the first-half?  No - Chelsea were sloppy, inaccurate and second-best.  The holes that initially existed in their midfield didn’t exist by design, they were the product of an initially flawed performance.

It wasn’t ‘Mourinho being Mourinho’, nor was it a half that he exerted much control over, it was Tottenham showing their offensive limitations.  In fact, that the scoreline was still 0-0 when Branislav Ivanovic was fouled wide on the touchline by Nacer Chadli owed more to the individual performances of players like the Serbian, like Cesar Azpilicueta, and like John Terry, the eventual opening goal-scorer.

That’s the problem.  Mourinho has earned his plaudits, but sometimes the willful over-analysis of his effect on games can obscure some of the more simple truths and dilute the contribution of individuals.

Just as games are not always won by players, victories cannot always be attributed solely to managers.  Mourinho has the trophy-collection to secure his legacy, he doesn’t need to be inflated by this peculiar form of mythologising.

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