Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Jose Mourinho sends clear signal by leaving Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku on Chelsea bench

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United is challenged by Frank Lampard of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United is challenged by Frank Lampard of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester United Manager David Moyes speaks to Wayne Rooney during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Oscar of Chelsea is challenged by Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini (l) greets England Manager Roy Hodgson prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: John Terry of Chelsea and his team-mates applaud the fans at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Robin van Persie of Manchester United is tackled by Ashley Cole of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Chelsea's Ashley Cole (left) and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Chelsea's Ashley Cole (left) and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Robin van Persie of Manchester United is tackled by Ashley Cole of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Chelsea's Oscar (left) and Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Manchester United manager David Moyes during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester United Manager David Moyes signs autographs prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester United Manager David Moyes looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Robin van Persie of Manchester United is tackled by Ashley Cole of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Antonio Valencia of Manchester United tangles with Ashley Cole of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United is challenged by Frank Lampard of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Manchester United manager David Moyes signs autographs for fans prior to kick-off during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United manager David Moyes during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Manchester United manager David Moyes (left) embraces Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho prior to kick-off during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Manchester United manager David Moyes (right) embraces Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho prior to kick-off during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Manchester United manager David Moyes during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 26, 2013.
Manchester United manager David Moyes during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester United fans look on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester United fans take a photo prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: General View prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: General View of merchandise stalls prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: General View of merchandise stalls prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: A Manchester United fan wears a Sir Alex Ferguson mask prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester United fans look on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: General View prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: General View prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: General View of pins on sale prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester United fans take a photo prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: General View of scarves on sale prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Even for Jose Mourinho, this wasn’t particularly subtle. As his wait for the arrival of a top-class centre-forward extends into the final week of the transfer window, the Chelsea manager opted to hand Andre Schürrle his full debut out of his natural position away at the Premier League champions here last night.

 

It was an implicitly damning assessment of his strikers Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku, who were both left to ponder their plight on the substitutes’ bench. It was an even further and harder fall from grace for Demba Ba as he went from leading the line against Hull City to watching the game from anonymity outside the matchday squad.

Of course, being Mourinho, he could not just leave it at an interpretation of the team-sheet. In his pre-match television interview, the 50-year-old said: “I go for mobility, I want to come to try to win the game, but instead of playing with one target man I play with four attacking players and we are going to try to create them problems.”

Torres, Lukaku and Ba are by that criterion immobile. Ouch. Mourinho’s selection was inevitably and tantalisingly juxtaposed with David Moyes’ decision to start Wayne Rooney from the outset for Manchester United.

Rooney, the subject of sustained  interest from Stamford Bridge, found himself the subject of a rather odd sensation: cheers from all four corners of the ground. The last time these two sides met here in May, both sets of supporters were united in their derision of Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez.

Indeed, had Benitez picked this particular line-up, there would surely have been a greater degree of consternation among the travelling support, especially given Juan Mata’s absence.

Mata was the club’s best player last season and the explanation that the Spaniard is short of match fitness after a hamstring injury looks increasingly suspect when he is omitted from matches of this magnitude.

Surely Mata three-quarters fit is worth inclusion if Mourinho really fancied him? Chelsea certainly lacked penetration during the opening period. United made more of the running as the Blues lacked a presence in  attack to hold the ball up sufficiently so they could retort on the break.

Schürrle, who scored 11 goals in 34 league games for Bayer Leverkusen last season from the left flank prior to his £18m move, worked tirelessly but Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic rarely looked troubled.

Mourinho watched stoically from the sidelines. He made notes using an electronic notepad on a device that looked likely to also take phone calls, presumably in case his team selection elicited an immediate response from owner Roman Abramovich or an agent with a striker to shift wanted a word.

The player chief among his thoughts – Rooney – was doing his best to ignite United. He was inventive in possession and industrious without, but United were not at their free-flowing best.

Mourinho abandoned the Schürrle plan with an hour played. Torres  entered the fray with Schürrle moved left but the pattern of the game altered little. A match with a subtext all about strikers ended goalless.

“The result in the end will make the judgement – Jose was right or Jose was wrong,” concluded Mourinho in that pre-match exchange. A draw at Old Trafford was a satisfactory conclusion for Chelsea. The fact it was achieved while highlighting the club’s need for another striker will bring a knowing smile to his face.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre