An off the record remark about Jose Mourinho’s striking options with Canal Plus have led to Mourinho branding the media as “embarrassing” due to their conduct during the event. These comments come in the wake of a Champions League tie against Galatasaray in Istanbul tomorrow.
As of currently, Chelsea FC has three recognized strikers, Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. All of whom have struggled to hit the net during this season. Jose singled out Eto’o specifically saying: “The problem at Chelsea is that we are lacking a goalscorer. I have one, Samuel Eto’o, but he is 32, possibly 35, who knows?” To rub salt into the wounds of his strikers, he later went on to make a comment about the availability of highly sought after Ramadel Falcao who now plies his trade with French newcomers, Monaco: “I don’t have Falcao but Falcao doesn’t have a team,” said Mourinho. “Who wants to play in front of 3,000 supporters? If I was one day to go to Monaco it would be at the end [of my career].” A painful remark for any striker.
In this article I shall attempt to break down if theses comments are as lighthearted as he has later claimed in a statement and if Chelsea should be looking for new additions in the summer.
We should first start off with the newest signing and the focus of Mourinho’s accusations, Samuel Eto’o. Having only signed for Chelsea for a one year contract via a £5million deal from Anzhi Makhachkala (don’t try to pronounce it), Eto’o arrived with a massive reputation from his previous stints at Inter Milan (managed by Mourinho) and with Barcelona; both of whom he won a Champions League trophy with. Chelsea fans were skeptical of his signing at best, as they only saw a once great player reduced to filling his pockets with cash in a substandard Russian league; it was hoped he would support the lack of goals coming from Chelsea’s strikers. His start to life in England was marred by his failure to score and it took a controversial bobble from Cardiff’s David Marshal to open his account for Chelsea. His knack for scoring fortunate goals for Chelsea became a trademark of his, pouncing on a poor goal kick by Schalke’s goalkeeper to open the scoring on the night. This predatory instinct is clearly lacking in both Ba and Torres but it may not be as good as you think. He averaged only 2-3 shots per game which is well below Liverpool’s Luis Suarez’s 5.6 shots on average- one of the highest in Europe. Taking into account that he is settling in at the moment, eight goals in 23 starts seems reasonable but he is clearly not carrying the team as he should be. Flashes of brilliance like his hat-trick against a poor Manchester United side are accompanied by droughts of not hitting the net. A hit and miss season for Samuel so far.
After his magnificent start for Newscastle United last year, Chelsea found it too hard to resist signing the Senegal international during last year’s January transfer window for around £7million. His loyalty was promptly paid back to the club with a brace on his debut game against Southampton but since then a goal here and there have summarized his impact on the cub; very little. Even after the departure of Chelsea’s legendary Didier Drogba, they have still yet to fill the mountainous void left in his absence. With Ba’s physicality, it was assumed that he would match the target man role needed in the squad; what we now have is a slow, cumbersome forward who at times, causes problems but most of the time, is rarely a threat. He has shown flashes of his ability in cup matches against both Manchester sides, two half-volleys that nestled in the net but he has yet to score more than two goals in the Premier league for Chelsea – a result of little game time perhaps? His reliance on good service from his teammates has caused a quite frankly, poor 0.1 dribbles per game with an added 6.6 passes per game (71.2% accurate); a testament that he may not fit the free flowing style that Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich wants but perhaps, ironically, an approach that former club West Ham might be able to facilitate under Sam Allardyce’s stewardship.
El Niño has known for quite a while that he needs to step up in his performances for Chelsea. Having arrived for an English transfer record of £50million from Liverpool, he was aiming to be the rejuvenating forward amongst a plethora of top-class players. This was not meant to be. 903 minutes later, Torres scored his very first goal for Chelsea, a prodded shot on a sodden Stamford Bridge pitch. Torres has been prone to stop-start seasons; one game he will look like a man half his age and will terrorize defenders (site the match against Spurs) but will often do something that will blight his form (site the match against Spurs). Playing against Manchester United, he took the ball and scored a neat chip over the goalkeeper; good Torres, but later on, when faced with an open goal, he managed to hit the ball wide of the net; bad Torres. The constant polarizing performances for Chelsea have led many to assume that he will never get back to the 30-goal-season Torres that was last witnessed while playing for Liverpool. Glimpses of what could be were seen in the last UEFA EURO competition in which he won the golden boot (!). This season, an injury hit start to the proceedings have dented his confidence once again, but he has so far managed to score four goals regardless from a paltry 1.7 shots per game in the league. Maybe the vanity project should end and take the golden boy wonder out of the team; but an equally valid point may be made is that he just needs the consistency to reach a decent run of form.
With Romelu Lukaku scoring for fun on loan at Everton and the long-term potential of Patrick Bamford playing fantastically for Derby County in the Championship, maybe it isn’t that bad for the future of Chelsea’s forward line. But for now, the strikers at Mourinho’s disposal aren’t hitting the highly paid peaks that were expected of them and therefore, the words uttered by Mourinho rang true to an extent. An injection of youthful talent may be needed to light a fire under the backsides of three strikers that are all getting into their thirties.
What is your opinion of Mourinho? Was he right to make these comments about his players? Let us know in the comment section below.