After Chelsea failed to break down the West Ham United defense in the 0-0 draw earlier this week at Stamford Bridge, manager Jose Mourinho had some choice words about the style of play that West Ham employed. Speaking about West Ham’s tactics after the game with Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, Mourinho was quoted as saying, “at the same time I told him also this is not Premier League, this is not the best league in the world, this is soccer from the 19th century.”
The result means Chelsea lost two valuable points in the race for top spot, and the Blues didn’t take advantage of Arsenal‘s draw away at Southhampton. Meanwhile, Manchester City‘s destruction of a hapless Tottenham Hotspur side allowed them to jump into first place in the table. Although a mere three points separate third place Chelsea from first place City, the way the Premier League has been this year there is an incredibly small margin of error.
On the opposite end of the table, the fight to avoid relegation is just as intense, and only three points separate bottom side Cardiff City from from safety. West Ham have struggled all season long under Allardyce and currently sit in the last relegation spot with only 19 points from 23 games played. Relegation is a serious possibility for the Hammers, so can you really blame them for deploying “19th century soccer” in order to earn a point against one of the best teams in the world?
Chelsea are near unstoppable at home, and teams like Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have all come away with nothing after duking it out with Mourinho’s forces. Heading into the match it looked quite easy on paper for Chelsea. West Ham have become notorious for leaking goals as of late, and the London club has let in a combined 17 goals from their last five matches.
This defensive dysfunction has earned West Ham their spot in the bottom half of the table, but Chelsea were left stunned after none of their 39 attempts found their way past goalkeeper Adrian. It is understandable that after claiming some of England’s most prestigious scalps Mourinho would be frustrated when a team that has been in the relegation zone practically from day one comes in and “parks the bus” in front of their own goal, but his criticism is completely unwarranted.
For starters, Mourinho has never managed a team that has been anywhere near the relegation zone, and “The Special One” has grown accustomed to sitting at the summit of leagues in Portugal, Italy, Spain and England. Life at the bottom of the table is rough, to say the least, and the managers and players of those teams need to get results by whatever means necessary. If that means West Ham putting a wall of five in the back and defending for their lives, so be it. “The only (other) thing I could bring was a Black and Decker (tool) to destroy the wall,” said an annoyed Mourinho.
Personally, I don’t blame West Ham, and teams like them need to play to their strengths when coming up against the worlds best. The way I see it, a manager criticizing another team’s style of play is like your friend criticizing you for wearing a suit of armor to a fight against Mike Tyson. You just shouldn’t question it.