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Apr 282014

Sunday’s loss to Chelsea sucked. It was just “The Worst”, as the kids say.

As I sit here writing this, I realize why I could never be a legitimate “journalist”. Journalists are required to to be objective and write an objective recap in the immediate aftermath of a game. I could never do that. My emotions run too high in the hours immediately following particular game. That’s why I wait more than 24 hours to come up with a response to Sunday’s 2-0 loss against Chelsea.

The truth of the matter is: I’m still upset. Liverpool have been just as good as Chelsea all season long and to watch them lose the way they did is frustrating to no end. I can’t come up with any sort of profound insight/revelation to explain what happened. So instead I’m going to just let my inner fan out and complain.

What bothered me the most about Sunday’s loss was how much praise was being heaped on Jose Mourinho. Somehow, Sunday’s loss was “proof” that Jose Mourinho is truly “The Special One”; a man whose prowess/genius should be praised. To his credit, he did come up with a plan to win the game. He also got his players to successfully carry out that plan. For that, he should be praised. But his plan was not the result of unique tactical expertise. Mourinho didn’t have to spend a year putting his “system” into place. His methods of winning are rudimentary, especially when compared to what his predecessor Brendan Rodgers has done in his brief time with Liverpool so far. Mourinho’s tactics are really quite simple: force the other team into making a mistake. I have no problem whatsoever with such a mindset. It is incredibly pragmatic. But it is by no means “profound”. There’s a reason why Brendan Rodgers will win Manager of the Year over Mourinho, regardless of who wins the title.

What really bothers me about Jose Mourinho is not his tactics/plan, but rather the things he encourages his players to do in order to accomplish said tactics/plan and the things he himself is willing to do. I chose the picture you saw in the slide show on the home page of this site for a reason. There are some people who are drawn to Mourinho because he is such a “character” on the sidelines. They view his behavior as “silly”. When he holds the ball away from Steven Gerrard to prevent Liverpool from getting a quick restart, people laugh it off. Then there are the “antics” of his players. They waste time in a similar manner. They feign injuries to kill off more time. They say/do unsavory things to get under their opponents’ skin and force them into mistakes. They do all of this in the name of winning and for this Jose Mourinho receives loads of praise.

But what about when an individual player does these same things?

Luis Suarez receives a ton of criticism for his “antics” on the field, especially when he goes down in the box looking for a penalty. The criticism he receives is so harsh, it blinds people from seeing that he is right up there with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best players in the world. Were it not for his reputation as an “evil” player, he would win every individual player award that is out there for his 2013-14 season with Liverpool. His reputation is not without cause; he does down way too easily inside the penalty area looking for a penalty kick. Yet somehow this tendency to “do whatever it takes to win” is viewed differently from Jose Mourinho holding the ball away from Steven Gerrard because he doesn’t want Gerrard taking a quick restart that could catch Chelsea’s defense napping and lead to a goal that could cost them the game. Suarez goes down easily because he knows a penalty kick is fairly easy to convert. To “earn” one would go a long way towards helping his team win. But this makes him a terrible person. He is deliberately attempting to deceive the referee to gain an unfair advantage. An upstanding citizen like Jose Mourinho would never dabble in such awful behavior!

I realize I’m probably not going to change anyone’s minds about Jose Mourinho or Luis Suarez. Sure, Mourinho has never bitten a player’s arm before (but admit it: you’d laugh it off as harmless if he did) and he has never been found guilty of racial abuse (Chelsea’s John Terry, has, but he’s not Hispanic like Suarez), but his “antics” on the sideline and his willingness to encourage his players to behave in a similar manner in just as reprehensible as the things Luis Suarez has done to earn his reputation. You can’t praise the manager for doing “whatever it takes to win” and then get mad at the player who goes out and does the same thing.


Adam Uthe

VP of Content Development for GFT and proud supporter of Columbus Crew (MLS) and Liverpool FC (EPL). @AUtheGFT

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