City looked immense. They were physical, skilful, pacey and on their game in every position.
In contrast, we were second to every ball, had no width, started complacently, which quickly turned into panic and our shortcomings were laid bare for all to see. It was all a bit depressing.
Jose tried to front it out but he needs to look at himself. If he thinks the answer to anything is to bring on Cuadrado and to sub John Terry then we really are in trouble.
But perhaps this was to draw Abramovich’s attention back to how lightweight we are on the bench. We won the league less than three months ago, but City were a shadow of the team we saw yesterday. United too were in a stage of transition and Arsenal, well Arsenal were just Arsenal.
Of course I can’t imagine the past week’s shenanigans helped much in the preparation for such a big match. I’m not going to waste untold column inches on this — suffice to say that there is more to all this than meets the eye — which, given the fact that Chelsea make even the tea lady sign a gagging order before she dishes out a single custard cream, means that we will never get to know what really went on.
Could Mourinho have handled it better? Yes, obviously, but he is probably genuinely surprised this has exploded into such a huge story. I know I am.
Equally, who cares which doctor Chelsea have on the bench? Would this story have occupied the back pages for an entire week if firstly, this had not involved Chelsea and secondly had one of the doctors involved not been female and attractive? I’d hazard a guess at no to both of those questions. So let’s move on.
You will recall last week I mentioned that I feared that Costa would receive no protection from referees this season; two games in and it seems an opposition player would have to produce an AK47 and machine gun our number 19 down before he is seen as the injured party.
Agreed, he is no angel but had he elbowed Fernandinho in the head rather than the other way round, you could bet your house he’d see red so fast it would make your head spin. We cannot afford for him to either be suspended nor to reign in his aggressiveness and nor should he as long as he stays within the boundaries of the laws of the game. But he too should be afforded some protection within the rules of the game.
What was even more frightening than the result against City was that we saw a snippet of what life would be like without John Terry and it doesn’t look good. It’s something most of us have been expecting for a few years now but it’s only when you see the actual lack of leadership on the pitch when he’s not there that you really start to panic.
Mourinho didn’t like the questions on why he had subbed JT. It was evidently tactical but he must be more aware than anyone that if he (Mourinho) is here for the long haul then this is an inevitable problem that he is going to have to find a solution to.
You want someone that is unassailable in his position, can command the respect of his team-mates, has an affinity with the club and its supporters, can speak eloquently when called upon and has all those leadership qualities one associates with the captaincy — I really can’t think of anyone we currently have that could take on that role.
Just a few years ago we had an abundance of ‘captains’ — Ballack, Cech, Lampard, Drogba just to name a few; but now we have a clutch of young players and we need to identify one of them to be Terry’s successor.
Enough, I’m depressing myself. We are lucky that this is at the very beginning of the season so we can put it behind us safe in the knowledge that there is a hell of a lot of football still to play.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved