Despite claiming Liverpool were not the best team in Europe last season, Jose Mourinho felt worried enough at Anfield last night to keep his team from actually trying to win the game.
Perhaps it was the site of Liverpool’s special Champions League kit, the one with five stars above the Liverpool badge, and arm patches with the number five and a Champions League trophy on one arm, on the other a patch signifying the Reds are the current Champions of Europe. Liverpool are the best team in Europe, based on the fact that they won the competition last season, but Jose has his own ideas.
Time-wasting towards the end by making a defensive substitution is not the tactic of a manager aiming for all three points. He got what he wanted, but afterwards tried to make out he wanted more: "I’m not 100% satisfied but it’s a point, so I’m not crazy with happiness but I’m not very sad. A point away is positive. Normally the team at home is not happy with a point but I think they are."
Whether or not Liverpool are pleased with a point is open to debate, but the Reds at least did make the effort to win. Mourinho’s side didn’t, but Jose likes to tell a story different to what the rest of the world sees: "We tried to play for more – but we didn’t lose and we are in a good situation in the group. In the last 15 minutes we tried to win the game and I think they played the same – they changed nothing."
The biggest effort being made in an attacking sense from a Chelsea player last night was from Frank Lampard. Not attacking as in trying to create chances, attacking as in trying create work for x-ray departments in Liverpool medical centres. The England midfielder broke Xabi Alonso’s ankle at Anfield last season, and looked to be trying to do at least that to Steven Gerrard in the first half. Throughout the game he continued in much the same way, and should have been booked much sooner than on the hour mark. Lucky to finish the game still on the pitch, Lampard may yet have helped deplete Liverpool’s squad for the next encounter on Sunday.
Mourinho of course was unconcerned about the over-the-top tackling from his players, saying, "It was a good game because it was competitive. It was very close, very tough. In midfield there was not a lot of space. There was a lot of power in both teams."
Last season Mourinho threw defender Robert Huth on as a centre-forward in a desperate attempt to try and prevent being dumped out of the game by Liverpool. Last night he threw him on in stoppage time, but said it wasn’t because he was happy with the draw: "In the last three or four minutes when there was a lot of long balls into the box I didn’t want to lose, so I put Robert Huth on because he can dominate and play the basketball game – so we go home with a point."
Ironic for Mourinho to talk about basketball after his own defender, William Gallas, got away with a volleyball shot during the match as Liverpool were denied a penalty. Jose said before the game that he was happy with the choice of referee, and after the game he’ll be even happier. As for modern technology being used to help official make difficult decisions? Mourinho won’t be asking for anyone to review any of last night’s refereeing decisions, and he’ll be glad that technology is still some way off being introduced.