Liverpool: Settle Down Jose, Chelsea Only Won By Accident
You think that you’re beyond talking about football itself. You think that it’s all become about the experience, the intensity, the mania, the destiny, the inevitability of glory. It’s become about welcoming scenes that outstrip previous glorious homecomings, that show what true fandom, true devotion is. Scenes that show the day’s opponents how paltry their free plastic flags are and what belief consists of.
And then there’s a slip. We go from ‘this does not f***ing slip’ to a slip of the very, very, cruelly, literal kind.
We wake, hungover, to find the media discussing Mourinho’s masterclass; to find that we have been undone by an incomparable tactician, that a coach unlike any other that we have ever seen has sprung a moment of unpredictable genius from the ether in order to humiliate a Liverpool team who were growing above their station.
Let’s get our facts right shall we?
Six men in a line across the 18 yard box for the duration of the game. A bank of three, occasionally four, guarding the area in front of the bank of six. Can we call these tactics? Yes, obviously we can; it takes time to drill a team into the discipline needed to perform in such a superlatively negative manner. It takes endless emphasis of mindset to bring a set of players to the point where they can time waste within the first five minutes. It takes effort to break, to stop, to destroy, to nullify. It takes a very particular sense of nihilism to create a performance such as this.
A performance such as this from a coach who - if we had forgotten - described Sam Allardyce’s West Ham as playing 'nineteenth century football' for ‘putting in a shift’ very much like Jose’s approach to first Atletico and then Liverpool.
The irony of course is that Chelsea’s defining moment was Gerrard’s slip in the time added on at the end of the first half for the constant time wasting of the exceptionally expensively assembled ‘weaker team’. The second goal, the ninety-second minute punch-line, came from Liverpool’s endless and endlessly frustrated search for an equaliser. The simple truth is this; if Steven Gerrard does not slip then this game is the 0-0 draw that Jose intended. There was no other threat from a Chelsea side that was satisfied with 27% possession.
Didn’t Abramovich sack Mourinho for playing exactly this brand of football?
The tactical masterclass worked. It worked because of an accident. Nothing more. The Chelsea fans may protest, may scream about ‘bitter whinging Scousers’. Let them. You’re paying your money to watch your graceless, charmless manager rebuild a graceless, charmless side with no belief, no beauty, no creation.
As for us? It’s not in our hands now. It’s in City’s. More importantly it’s in Everton’s. Our neighbours are going to beat City next Saturday. We are going to win both of our remaining games and we are going to win the league.
Adversity is nothing. Set backs are temporary. Belief is everything.
We go again.