Jose Mourinho is a bit vexed nowadays. His club Chelsea failed again to put away their opponents, this time Fulham. Meanwhile Chelsea is now 7 points adrift with Man Utd waltzing away against other teams. Is Chelsea operating a couple of paces below form or has the rest of the league caught onto them? What is interesting is that Mourinho's acumen as coach is seriously being challenged for the first time. Or has having Abramovich as his cash cow window dressed his abilities?
Mourinho does not have the services of John Terry and his first line goalkeeper Petr Cech, but despite these losses, it is clear that his system is not working. And it is not working for big names like Andrei Shevchenko and Michael Ballack. Mourinho's crowding off the midfield has led to the lack of creation of the wide spaces down the flanks to supply the ball to the inside men. Instead of stretching out opposing defenses it is becoming easy for them to collapse around the Chelsea attack very quickly and effectively.
Mourinho's confidence in Shaun Wright Phillips is non-existent and it shows in Wright Phillips tentative play when he gives the ball away cheaply. But he can potentially create problems for teams stretching out the right flank just like Robben does the left when he finally gets to play. It is a damned better sight than Sheva assigned to the duties of ball retrieval down the right flank. He seems to drifting deeper into Chelsea territory with every game and soon will be challenging Makelele for the holding midfielder position.
Ballack or Lampard? This is a question of redundancy. Both are roaming midfielders who love to have a go at goal and are invariably part of set pieces. Ballack scores out in the aerial department but also suffers from an ephemeral quality to his game where he disappears for stretches. In Mourinho's conservative approach having two attacking midfielders is a liability. Ballack is sacrificial to Mourinho's system.
At this point Roman Abramovich is scratching his stubble wondering what possessed him to cough up the cash for Sheva while Mourinho is contemplating what would induce Cristiano Ronaldo to come to Chelsea to open up those spaces that he is so effectively doing for Man Utd. But Abramovich is well past the days of blank checks and spending profligacy. If Chelsea sinks deeper into the hole, Mourinho might be diagramming his exit. With Bolton very much in the running for the top four the discrepancies between their bank balances is a painful reminder to Abramovich.