Call Jose ugly, he couldn't care less
Mourinho's pragmatism wins Chelsea the points
Jose Mourinho's haggard appearance summed up his Chelsea side. He was weak, scruffy and unshaven and looked as if he'd spent the previous night sleeping under Stamford Bridge.
He wasn't beautiful, but he was the best man on show. For the Portuguese pragmatist, that's really all that matters.
At Anfield, he showed once again that he's not a dedicated follower of fickle football fashions, but an ardent admirer of the game's annals. Beauty is skin-deep, but trophies stir the soul.
In the opposing dugout, Brendan Rodgers was characteristically resplendent in sharp suit with matching club crest and tie. But Mourinho demonstrated that his old apprentice had borrowed the Emperor's New Clothes for the big occasion.
Rodgers was all dressed up, but his Liverpool side had nowhere to go.
For all their attacking artistry this season, the Reds' famed forward line chipped away at Chelsea's protective walls like Tim Robbins' prisoner using stolen cutlery to escape his cell in The Shawshank Redemption.
But Robbins had years to break free from prison. Liverpool had only 90 minutes and proved to be prisoners of their manager's rhetoric.
Before and after the contest, Rodgers reiterated his attacking philosophy and his steadfast refusal to replicate Mourinho's spoiling tactics to stifle opponents and snatch three points on the counter-attack.
Such principles are undoubtedly laudable. Liverpool still lead the way playing a breathtaking brand of quick, penetrative, overlapping football which has won them many friends.
But Chelsea won the three points.
Despite being woolly-headed with flu, Mourinho's thinking was typically clear.
If he wanted friends, he'd spend more time on Facebook. Instead, he devoted all his depleted energy on stopping the league's most rampant goal-scorers, again.
BEATEN BOTH RIVALS
The Blues have beaten both Liverpool and Manchester City home and away this season. The bigger the game, the better his tactical telekinesis appears to be.
At Anfield, he controlled the movement of others by thought and process.
The Blues wasted Liverpool's most precious commodity from the first whistle: Time. Mark Schwarzer spent more time on the ball than Luis Suarez.
If the rushed error came from Steven Gerrard's boot, the uncomfortable, destabilising strategy came from the sick man in the visitors' dugout.
Mourinho made them pay by not letting them play.
During the game, Chelsea's stifling approach smacked of anti-football hypocrisy; an unsightly spectacle so often criticised by Mourinho when he's up against the likes of West Ham and Crystal Palace.
On reflection, the Blues' defensive brilliance merits a more measured response. Their Serbian shield in midfield again underscored why Mourinho's brief shopping spree in January was so productive.
Nemanja Matic matched both Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva. He cut the communication between midfield and the front three, leaving Suarez and Raheem Sterling in the wilderness.
Ashley Cole looked like a cross between a bearded lady and a Greek god, but displayed the power and insight of the latter to support the surprisingly effective Tomas Kalas in a makeshift back four.
Never one for managerial masochism, Mourinho did not intend to commit football suicide against the Premier League leaders anymore than he plans to offer up sacrifices for La Liga's leading lights.
Chelsea have so far consigned Diego Costa and Luis Suarez to the role of harmless bystander - with no goals conceded - and will attempt to repeat the trick a third time when they host Atletico Madrid on Thursday morning.
Mourinho does not advocate negative football. He didn't at Real Madrid, he doesn't at Chelsea. His preference for inverted wingers unleashes Eden Hazard and Oscar to do as they please when they're fit and available.
Arsenal alone have six reasons to reject claims of anti-football at the Bridge.
Mourinho advocates winning football, with all its positive and negative connotations.
His philosophy is not flowery, but it's always fluid. Pragmatism trumps principles every time.
He's the most malleable of managers. He simply doesn't believe it's possible to build an idealistic, all-terrain dream machine to ride roughshod over everything in its path.
So he tinkers. He changes. He reconfigures for different surfaces, environments and obstacles.
Mourinho is wily enough to recognise that he can't always change the world, but he can temporarily control it; just as he did so successfully at Anfield.
He adapted. Rodgers didn't. Atletico can't say they haven't been warned.
Pts: 80, Goal difference: +50
- v C Palace (May 5, A)
- v Newcastle (May 11, H)
Pts: 78, Goal difference: +43
- v Norwich (May 4, H)
- v Cardiff (May 11, A)
Pts: 77, Goal difference: +58
- v Everton (May 3, A)
- v Aston Villa (May 7, H)
- v West Ham (May 11, H)
When a team defends well, you call it a defensive display. When a team defends badly and concedes two or three goals, you don't consider it a defensive display. - Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was riling up Steven Gerrard by keeping the ball after it had gone out of play, passing instructions to Ashley Cole and celebrating with their fans
Mourinho hits back at critics
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho taunted Liverpool about their ineffective tactics after his side handed Manchester City the initiative in the Premier League title race with victory at Anfield.
Chelsea's 2-0 success on Sunday means that City can claim the title by winning their three remaining games.
Manuel Pellegrini's team trail leaders Liverpool by three points, but they have a match in hand - at home to struggling Aston Villa - and an eight-goal advantage in terms of goal difference.
Liverpool had been on a run of 11 straight wins prior to facing Chelsea, but the visitors' spoiling tactics successfully prevented the hosts from building momentum, quietening the Anfield crowd.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who previously worked beneath Mourinho at Chelsea, expressed frustration at his old mentor's tactics, describing them as "defensive" and "not difficult to coach".
The home side laboured in front of goal, however, with Chelsea's stand-in goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer only called upon to make two saves of note, and Mourinho boasted that his side had kept Liverpool at bay with ease.
"Defensive display? I am a bit confused what the media thinks about defensive displays," said Mourinho.
"When a team defends well, you call it a defensive display. When a team defends badly and concedes two or three goals, you don't consider it a defensive display.
"When Liverpool start putting long balls in the area for Mark and (Gary) Cahill and (Branislav) Ivanovic, they were like fish in water, (because it was) so easy for them.
"The team played brilliantly. Every player was magnificent. No mistakes. I think it was a fantastic performance by my players."
Although Chelsea are now only two points from the summit with two games to play, Mourinho declared that they have "no chance" of pipping Liverpool and City to the title.
His immediate focus will now be on the Champions League semi-final second leg at home to Atletico Madrid on Thursday morning (Singapore time). The first leg ended 0-0.
Chelsea will be without injured goalkeeper Petr Cech, but Mourinho said captain John Terry has a chance of playing despite hobbling out of the first leg with a foot injury.
Eden Hazard could also feature after returning to training following a calf problem.
Striker Samuel Eto'o is a doubt with a knee problem, while midfielders Jon Mikel Obi and Frank Lampard - both of whom played the full 90 minutes at Anfield - are suspended. - AFP.