A New Dawn For Mourinho’s Chelsea


A false 9 is a player that is deployed up front but is not told to stay within the width of the 18 yard box, like the archetypal number 9, but rather roam within the final third of the pitch. The lack of presence up front is employed due to the fact that defenders cannot leave holes to press and this puts them in a position to find free space. This means that a player could run at them or thread a ball in behind the defence. Lionel Messi, from 2009 to today, at Barcelona is a good example of how well this role can be used.

Chelsea, on the other hand, have used this role on two occasions and have, unfortunately, not been great. The games were against Juventus and Manchester United where Hazard and Schurrle played up front, in respective games. These were poor attempts as they were selected due to their ability to stretch defences, because of their speed, rather than on their finishing ability. This was shown by Hazard hitting the side netting from a relatively simple angle, which Clive Tylesledy comically thought went in, and Schurrle rattling the crossbar from an easy position, although he was adjudged to be offside. Their goal scoring records were not considered when thinking of who the best player to put up front was.

Juan Mata has not only been outstanding in terms of his performance, but this has translated to him contributing a vast amount of goals and assists. None more so than last season where he achieved 19 goals and 35 assists in the 2012/13 season, playing 64 games in the process. He was Chelsea’s 2nd top goal scorer last season in all competitions and would suit the false 9 position perfectly. Under Mourinho, it has not been plain sailing for Mata. He has had to deal with the fact that the Portuguese manager has noted his poor defensive contribution as being a weak link for Chelsea. Whilst Andre Villas Boas managed Chelsea, a worrying percentage of goals came down the left hand side – where Mata played in his first season. By having him up front, the burden of him having to defend would be lifted. Most importantly, he would be able to link the midfield and attack. Chelsea have brought in No.9s whose main strengths do not include dropping deeper and contributing to the attack. This makes for a detachment between the front line and floating three AMs behind. This makes it harder for the attacking midfielders to provide for them. Since the attacking midfielders are more possession based, this type of striker is necessary. Liverpool of the past and Atletico Madrid presently have shown that it can work but only if the style is set up for the striker to run behind the defence.

This would be a short term fix to something that has persisted for more than 2 years now. Daniel Sturridge would have fitted in perfectly but he was not utilised and sold to Liverpool, where he is currently shining. Romelu Lukaku does not seem like the striker to help with the process of building an attack but since he came to Chelsea at the age of 18, he has worked hard on all aspects of his game and should be considered as an long term option. However, these two players are not available in this present time, seeing as Lukaku will ply his trade with Everton for the season. Therefore, Juan Mata heading the Chelsea attack should be the choice for Chelsea to gain a larger effect on games from their attacking midfield trident.

Mourinho’s job brief is different to what it was some 9 years ago. The instant success that was arrogantly, at that time, predicted by the 2 time Champions League winner was the foundation of getting Chelsea into the upper echelons of football. Now, he has a younger group of players with different talents. They are less functional and it will be hard to mould them into these types of players. Instead, a long term winning mentality coupled with football that would satiate the Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, is the plan. The crux of the talent is there. Lukaku, Marco van Ginkel, De Bruyne and McEachran are just some of the younger players who are his disposal. It would have been better to test the waters and somehow fit the majority of these into the side to foster a familiarity that breeds what a winning team is about – consistency. Alas, two of those are out on loan, one has a long term injury and the last discontented with his playing opportunities. Perhaps it will be a season yet where Mourinho is able to combine his biggest strengths and the highest strengths of his team.

4 responses to “A New Dawn For Mourinho’s Chelsea”

  1. wos da yank says:

    I think anyone who suggest a midfield pivot without ramries is insane. While mata has been the player of the year for two seasons, I believe ramires has been just as vital. He doesn’t score as many goals nor have as many assists, but he works tirelessly and contributes key goals in huge moments. He needs to allowed to perform the box to box role and have a player like alonso or javi matinez beside him…a true deep lying playmaker who can also defend. The problem with lamps a d ramires together is that both are suited more for the box to box role. True lamps doesn’t have the legs he used to, but he still prefers to make runs into the box…as does ramires. We need a guy to sit deep with either who is as comfortable on the ball as he is without it…who also doesn’t have a need to go forward and get goals. Imo.

    • Elijah says:

      I do not like one of my two man midfield running out of position. Given the attacking talent Chelsea have, adding the full backs, I really do not think there is a need to have a midfielder who runs back and forth all game. I would rather have a two who protect the centre backs whilst the two full backs are allowed to attack as they want. I understand why Ramires’ absence would be weird to you, though.

  2. folu says:

    What wank of a blogger wrote this…