The title bid from Liverpool took a serious yet reversible blow in their loss to Chelsea. Blaming it on Steven Gerrard, when it came down to a random moment of misfortune, while making Jose Mourinho look like a genius, is simply looking at the match in the wrong way, and taking the wrong or non-existing conclusions from it.
One must applaud Jose Mourinho for his achievements in the past, and for winning all four matches against Chelsea’s title rivals this season. However, a league means getting the best result in the span of 38 matches against strong and weaker teams. So far, Chelsea are only second best when that is concerned but Mourinho, unless some special spirit of kindness fell upon him after the match, usually blames everyone but himself for those failures.
It doesn’t take a genius to make all 10 players sit tight and defend like mad for 90 minutes. You don’t need a FIFPro degree or certificate for that. What you do need is having the ability to convince players like Willian and Andre Schurrle to play like wing backs for 98% of the time, and go out on the attack only in unique circumstances. That’s great man management, not some tactical genius.
There were mistakes by Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool. Players didn’t play close to one another, and in the few moments when we saw tandems on the flanks Liverpool were able to create chances or actually get the ball into the box. The rest were crosses resulting in corners and long range efforts, most of them from Steven Gerrard, trying his best to make up for that slip at the end of the half, allowing Demba Ba to score the opening and decisive goal.
Parking the bus or bunkers as others call it have nothing to do with brilliance. Yes, it calls for some adjustments but mostly plenty of discipline from the players actually doing all the work, and quite a lot of luck. Because there’s no one fail safe way of actually making that defense fold and open up. It simply requires scoring first, and the fact that it didn’t happen was a combination of good defending, some poor attacking decisions and quite a lot of luck, which is a part of this sport.
Jose Mourinho didn’t plan on winning – it happened, but everything he and his players did for the last 180 minutes of football they’ve been playing are things that keep fans away from the pitch and the TV screen. There’s no good, bad, right or wrong in this one. There’s simply what you see, and the alliances you choose to follow. But Mourinho isn’t a genius for playing what he calls “19th century football” when others do it to him, and Gerrard won’t be the reason Liverpool end up empty handed if they do finish second or third.