Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on Tuesday hit out at the “philosophers” who have decried his tactical approach, ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg at home to Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea were accused of negativity after their 2-0 win at Liverpool on Sunday, with beaten manager Brendan Rodgers claiming that their strategy had been “defensive” and “not difficult to coach”.
However, Atletico coach Diego Simeone defended Chelsea’s counter-attacking style on Tuesday, asserting “there is not one way to play football”, and Mourinho said that criticism from pundits had been targeted and unfair.
“Football in this moment is full of philosophers, full of people who understand much more than me, full of people with fantastic theoretical philosophies. Amazing,” he said.
“But the reality is always the reality. A team that doesn’t defend well doesn’t have many chances to win. A team that doesn’t score lots of goals, if it concedes lots of goals, is completely in trouble.
“A team without balance is not a team and after that, I can’t say much more than this.”
He added: “In my first period here, I remember saying that if you have a goalkeeper like Petr Cech who puts the ball in the opponents’ box and a striker like Didier Drogba who wins every ball in the air, why do you play short? Because you are stupid.
“If the opponent is very fast and needs space behind your defence, and you give them that space, you are stupid.
“So when a team plays strategically and thinks about the qualities of the team and the qualities of the opponents, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, (they were considered a) good team, intelligent team.
“In this moment, depending on the coach and the club, obviously, the critics, they speak. But no problem.”
– Rodgers offers ‘congratulations’ –
Mourinho also claimed that Rodgers, who worked under him as a reserve and youth-team coach during his first stint as Chelsea manager, had called him on Tuesday to make peace.
“Of course I know his words after the match, but I also know his words today. And today he told me: ‘Congratulations for a great victory and a great performance,'” Mourinho said.
“Especially because I consider him a friend, and I like him, I prefer to forget his words after the match and I keep the words from today.
“He’s an intelligent guy and I’m sure after the match he watched the match on video and I think now he understood what happened.”
Mourinho revealed that John Terry and Eden Hazard will both be fit to face Atletico, but said that goalkeeper Petr Cech, who dislocated his shoulder in the first leg, was not in the right condition to play despite making an unexpected appearance at training earlier on Tuesday.
Chelsea emerged from the first leg with a 0-0 draw after a disciplined defensive display and Mourinho predicted another cagey encounter at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
“In this moment, this is a clean result: 0-0, one possibility or the other,” said the Portuguese.
“We play at home, but a draw with goals is good for them, and not for us, so you can’t even say which one is the advantage.
“A 0-0 is a 0-0. Playing at home is to play at home. But to have the advantage of a draw with goals is good for them.”
He added: “Some matches are special matches. The match every player wants to play is the Champions League final, but the next match is the second leg of the Champions League semi-final.
“So, if tomorrow we have the chance of the second match, we enjoy and after the game, let’s see if we go to Lisbon (for the final) or not.
“I’ll go for sure, in the summer, but let’s see if we can go together!”