Jose Mourinho will have you believe that Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City was a ‘fake result’. He will also try to convince anybody who is subjected to listening to him that his side were the better team in the second half of the game.
Despite his best intentions, these two outlandish statements alone are proof that Jose isn’t always capable of manipulating the media.
His bullish remarks not only lack integrity, but also fall completely into the realm of nonsensical. For this was the day when the manager of the Champions substituted Mr John ‘Captain Leader Legend’ Terry for the very first time. A day where he stood on the touchline perplexed with not much of a Plan A, let alone a Plan B. A day where City played his team completely off the park.
At one point, in fact several, Jose remained frozen to the spot, looking around him, dreaming up excuses. It was a day where appealing for free kicks, waving invisible cards and hacking opposition players down with ill-timed tackles in a bid to aggravate led to nothing but a crushing defeat.
Where Cesc Fabregas could have bothered to turn up, Branislav Ivanovic was completely out of his depth and Eden Hazard looked bloated from overindulging post-title win. Chelsea were lethargic, lazy and lacked ideas and direction. City were anything but.
Jose may have been able to deflect any criticism after Chelsea’s title defence began with 2-2 home draw to Swansea onto club doctor Eva Carneiro, but here there was nowhere to hide.
Despite his desperate attempts to make JT the scapegoat this time, a move that made no sense seeing as Gary Cahill is equally as slow and was left on the pitch, the Champions were left brutally exposed by a City side who were not only physically superior but were stronger in every position on the pitch.
The 3-0 score line was far from a fake result. In fact it doesn’t tell the whole story. It should’ve been a lot more.
Manuel Pellegrini’s only change from the side that beat West Brom 3-0 was to bring Sergio Aguero in for Wilfried Bony upfront. As soon as Martin Atkinson blew his whistle to declare the day’s proceedings open, City were a force to be reckoned with. Aguero, Golden Boot winner last season and human assault rifle, almost scored within the first minute but Chelsea’s second choice goalkeeper Asmir Begovic stood firm.
This became a running theme throughout the first half, with the Bosnian thwarting Pellegrini’s smiling assassin time and time again. Chelsea’s defence were ran ragged and were repeatedly bamboozled by the pace of Raheem Sterling, the trickery of David Silva, the power of Yaya Toure and the sheer wonderment of Aguero.
Assertive and professional to a tee, City’s focus was unequivocal. They meant business.
The breakthrough came for the home side on the half hour mark, with Aguero finally slotting past his nemesis Begovic to give City a deserved lead. Attack and creation continued to be dominated by the team in sky blue, with the Champions failing to test Joe Hart.
Comedy was added to the clash when the Chelsea medical team’s services were called upon to treat Cahill’s head injury, with City fans only too delighted to unleash a tirade of chants mocking Jose’s treatment of Eva, heaping more misery on the beguiled manager.
With Diego Costa sizing up Fernandinho following their tete-a-tete during the opening 45, and Jose looking outfoxed in all areas, it was time for the Chelsea manager to make his statement. As both sides emerged for the second half, he opted to substitute his captain the first time ever, replacing him with Kurt Zouma.
No more a mind-numbingly petulant move than a signal for Roman to go and sign John Stones, the leader was left to languish on the bench. Chelsea did perk up and found the net but Ramires’ goal was justifiably deemed offside. But it was all typical Jose – get amongst the opposition, rile them, throw a few questionable tackles in, try to provoke.
Remarkably Agent Provocateur Diego Costa finished the game without receiving a yellow card despite his best efforts, spending the majority of his time on the grass and looking at the referee.
He had strolled off the Chelsea coach at the Etihad looking for a fight, stumbling around like a straggler at his best friend’s wedding after far too many Jagerbombs, when the lights have come on at the end of the night.
Mourinho’s men intimidated and enticed but it was a mark of how assured City’s performance was that they rode the tidal wave of pressure, and settled the game down with confidence and an ethos of calm. Vincent Kompany, outstanding in the heart of defence alongside Eliaqium Mangala, doubled the home side’s lead with a looping header from Silva’s corner.
At this point the wheels had well and truly fallen off Jose’s bus and all the ‘Special One’ could do was look on as the home side dealt with everything thrown at them with style and composure. Fernandinho’s curling strike late on in the game merely compounded the misery for the Champions, making victory even sweeter for the gleeful home fans.
It is still early days and the glue is barely dry on the gold badges Jose’s men have adorning their shirts this season, but it’s been far from an ideal start for Chelsea. City on the other hand looked to confirm the conclusion that people had drawn from their opening performance.
‘One game in,’ they said. ‘It was only West Brom,’ they mocked.
What now? Are people going to say it was only Chelsea? That Jose was having a bad day? Or are they going to give City the credit they so rightly deserve for approaching the game in a manner where they outwitted Jose in every department. Pellegrini had done his research.
They were prepared. The defence was militant, the midfield full of pace and invention and Aguero was just, well, Aguero. They were organised, composed and exciting. They didn’t set up for a draw, they went out to play attacking, attractive and impressive football and that is exactly what happened and exactly what football is all about.
In stark contrast, Jose looked lost.
To admit he hasn’t prepared for this season in the most adequate of ways is obvious. His side looked like they were still on their far flung holidays. The fact that Begovic – brought in as back-up to Thibaut Courtois – was their star player tells you everything you need to know.
Dreadfully short on firepower, City’s captain Kompany has scored as many goals as Chelsea so far this season. Time is on his side and when you’re Jose Mourinho, any thoughts of being frogmarched to the front of the job centre queue simply don’t happen. The man is always capable of turning the sublime to the ridiculous back to the sublime again.
Jose is petulant. He is bullish and stubborn. But he looked short on ideas with an audience tiring of him passing the buck and hiding behind conjured smokescreens. It’s not Jose’s style to admit when he is wrong, oh no, but to single individuals out to duck and dive behind is fair game in his world. That’s okay, because he is Jose Mourinho.
Even the Chelsea media team attempted to spin the defeat by claiming Ramires’ goal was unfairly ruled out. By insisting City’s defenders acting in an unsporting and brawling manner. By insinuating it was a closely fought tie. The incredulous account was nothing short of laughable.
The Jose propaganda filters through every corridor at Stamford Bridge, nobody is immune to it.
Yet Chelsea haven’t strengthened in any significant way – and it shows. The addition of Sterling to City’s armoury adds pace and allows Silva to conduct even more magic. But the improvement to their back four was the biggest signal of intent. Where they came undone during their title defence last season, lessons have been learned.
Mistakes were made and have been acknowledged and rectified. Two clean sheets and six goals in two games with the spine of Hart, Kompany, Yaya and Aguero in formidable form. Add Nicolas Otamendi into the mix and you’ve got the ingredients of a team more than capable of clinching their third title this season.