JUST how good are Chelsea? In my opinion, they’re possibly not as an accomplished a side as they and Jose Mourinho believe them to be.
For a man as pragmatic as the Portuguese, he has allowed them to showboat, extract the Michael and, damagingly, let opposing sides off the hook.
They were guilty of conceding a goal late on against their main rivals, Manchester City, and they did it again at Old Trafford last week when Manchester United managed a late equaliser.
In both matches, Chelsea should have been out of sight with three points in the bag, before allowing both City and United to come back at them.
Basically, Chelsea lack the killer touch, and allow great ball artists like Eden Hazard to dwell too long on the ball instead of moving it quickly and getting forward in search of more goals.
They may live to regret it, and it could just cost Blues a clear advantage in the Barclays Premier League, and just possibly hurt their bid for the Champions League.
Chelsea, when they take the lead, must go for a second goal to stamp their authority on a match. Instead they keep possession but, too often. play the ball backwards.
That’s when mistakes are made and when tired players lose the ball. Mourinho is guilty of not demanding a more ruthless approach.
Once Real Madrid had scored against Liverpool last week, they promptly added two more. Only after half time, when the game was won, did the Spaniards lower their work rate and focus.
Mourinho has discovered he cannot get away with it, even in a Premier League that for the most part lacks quality.
He knows he has thrown four points down the drain, and could yet be made to pay for it.
Of course, Chelsea have the ability and the talent. What is more important is how they make use of it, what the players are told, and why, from the touchline, this master manager cannot have more of an input. He is so good at most other things: organisation, preparation, work rate and tactics, so why cannot Mourinho recognise the need to kill off games.
When a team leads by just one goal, it inevitably gives the opposition encouragement. That’s what Chelsea have been guilty of, giving the opposition the sniff of a chance.
Is it because Mourinho is too self absorbed to want to produce teams that can win on his own terms, teams reluctant to get their hands dirty when it is necessary?
But, in John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic, they have strong, determined hard men who can more than look after themselves.
Perhaps Terry, as Mourinho’s first lieutenant, should take more responsibility, but then you do not know what instructions he has been given.
Hazard, Oscar and Willem are all lovely players, but the fact remains they sometimes over play and that can be dangerous. There are enough good players in the Premier League to take advantage of any opportunities to get back into a match. And that is now being proved.
Do Chelsea find it all too easy? Possibly. Mourinho has tremendous self belief and has installed that in his players.
But it is victories that win trophies, not draws. Chelsea should go for them with a much more focussed attitude. Kill, kill and kill again must be the Mourinho mantra.
If it isn’t, then Blues could end up bitterly disappointed by the end of the season. They have come too far, done too much. The last thing they want is to look back over their shoulders and rue missed opportunities.
The greatest one of all, to be lauded as England’s best team, is there for the taking. But, first, Mourinho must make his side apply that will to win…at all costs.
PICTURE COURTESY OF: Paul Bence