Beating the top two sides four times is nice, but that wasn’t why Jose Mourinho was rehired by Chelsea. A successful and equally arrogant manager was brought back to win titles, or at least do better than last season. The end result? No improvement in the league in terms of position, and reaching the Champions League semifinal, where awful football paved the way for a painful exit on their home ground.
You can’t stay un-opinionated about Mourinho. Chelsea fans aren’t the only ones who love him. Not all the world hates people who put the bottom line as the one thing they cherish and bow down to. His interviews and comments, always with some thought behind them for one end or another even if what he seems to say so many teams has nothing to do with reality, are legendary, and make him more interesting than 95% of managers and players out there.
But for someone who is always about the bottom line and doing everything possible to get a result, the 0 titles next to his name for a second consecutive season has to hurt. And that’s why listening to him weave webs and tales about how well he and his team have done this season slightly pricks at your hearing sense; because something just doesn’t sound right in this whole story he is trying to sell.
Chelsea finished third last season and played very well at the end of the season, enabling them to win the Europa League. Jose Mourinho might have mocked that trophy upon his return, but Atletico Madrid won that title twice on their way forward towards the Champions League final. Jose Mourinho might be a specialist in success and winning that title, but it has been four years since he led Inter to triumph, and it’s not like he hasn’t gotten funds to meet that goal.
Style is also something a manager should be judged with. Mourinho likes to brush off any criticism about his playing style and tactics, but that doesn’t make him right. There’s no right and wrong football, but there’s something that is unappreciative to fans and even to his owner when he takes a team that took so much to assemble and takes a cynical, cowardly and often dirty approach to a game.
Progressing your players is important. Cesar Azpilicueta seems like the only one who really made a significant stride this season, despite being used as a left back all year long. Oscar was on his way to make a breakthrough early on but fizzled out. Willian was inconsistent and never brilliant. Eden Hazard is the same player he was last season in terms of what he does on the pitch, only slightly smarter and stronger physically, hence the good season.
This isn’t colossal failure, but when you talk and act big, everyone expects huge results. Jose Mourinho loves to talk about process and his two-year magic, but it’s impossible to shake off the feeling that handling some of the matches differently this season would have led to better results. Just like his overall tenure at Real Madrid was a failure no matter what he tries to say, his first season back at Stamford Bridge leaves the same impression.