This season, Chelsea have gotten off to an inauspicious start losing their opening Champions League game to FC Basel at home, while having their worst start to a Premier League season in the Abramovich era.
So when the match day squad was announced by Jose Mourinho for the Fulham Road Derby it made for interesting reading. Absent from the squad were Juan Mata and David Luiz. At first instant I thought both might have been injured and carrying niggles. However (to my surprise) they weren’t, as Mourinho in a pre- match interview proclaimed, he left both out for tactical reasons based on the manner of their displays in the midweek Champions League loss and that none of the two were in anyway injured.
When Jose Mourinho leaves both Juan Mata and David Liuz (arguably Chelsea’s two most talented players) totally out of his match day squad what does it mean?
Is he making a statement to the players, stamping his authority upon the squad making them know who is boss and that mediocrity is not facilitated or accepted? Is it that even though they might be outrageously talented players they lack the tactically nous and or discipline to fit properly into Mourinho’s tactically rigid footballing philosophy? Does he not view either of the players as integral to the success of the team and as such dead weight and space makers who should be shipped out in short order.
The latter two of the above notions seem to carry more clout as to the real reason. In customary Mourinho style at Friday’s pre-match press conference he admonished Mata for not being adaptable to his system and made it unequivocally known that Oscar would be his preferred choice in the number 10 role. Probably he thinks it will act like a shot of insulin to an ailing diabetic and resuscitate the patient. Being ‘The Special One’ or ‘The Only One’ (I can’t keep up with his personal third person narcissistic references) we can’t be sure what goes on between his ears. For the rest of us not so special ones, I think we might view it as a show of intent in terms alienating Mata from the side or destabilizing him CIA style. This type of treatment for someone who was voted Chelsea player of the year for the past two (2) years this is a bit strange but as I said who knows what happens in his brain space. I personally am not a huge fan of the diminutive Spaniard (he is overrated) and have no problem with his omission because in my opinion Oscar is by far a better player.
Luiz is definitely the most talented centre back in the squad, yet his appearances under Mourinho have been sparse up to now. Mourinho might have taken keen attention to Gary Neville’s description of the Brazilian’s playing style, saying he, plays as though ‘controlled by a 10-year-old on a Playstation.’ This type of play within a Mourinho team is definitely not acceptable. Though he offers a potentially better option as a footballer to Terry and Cahill his potential to be a liability far outweighs this. This was exemplified by the various rumours linking him with a move away from Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Another noteworthy fact about the Chelsea squad was the absence of Romelu Lukaku for the obvious reason that he was recently loaned out to the blue half of Mersey side. Loaning Lukaku to Everton was a strange decision; he is probably the best Chelsea forward. He came on at halftime for Everton and totally changed the game and scored the winner against West Ham. Mourinho probably banished the youngster for missing the decisive penalty in the European Super Cup against Bayern.
Whatever his reasons, Mourinho is making some weird pronouncements with his squad selections and transfer dealings. Only time will tell if he will be vindicated by seasons’ end.