There is no denying that Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side rightly sit atop the Premier League standings thanks to the quality of football that the Blues have embraced, but the Special One’s lack of rotation policy is, in fact, dispatching the well-accepted norms in professional sport. Yet will the Stamford Bridge outfit last the distance in the marathon run?
As Manchester City confirms the signing of Wilfried Bony from Swansea for a reported £28m, you would wonder why Manuel Pellegrini has clearly thrown down the gauntlet. It’s probably the Etihad side’s last throw of the dice to retain their title as they sit a couple of points behind Chelsea with 17 gameweeks remaining; a significant period.
City now have four strikers to choose from in their squad which overwhelmingly means Pellegrini would now have the choice to pick more player; adapt to different formations and use more players from the squad when required. This brings to an interesting debate. Does using more squad players enhance the chance of winning silverware?
Mourinho however has clearly shown this season that he isn’t willing to rotate his first choice starting eleven in the Premier League. The Blues have a set side with a regular back four; the midfield pivot of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas behind the triumvirate of Hazard, Oscar and Willian as Diego Costa leads the frontline.
Stats from Whoscored clearly indicate that Chelsea have used the least number of players who have player 500+ minutes in the League this season. None other of the 19 other teams in the top flight have used less than 14 players. 6 Teams in the top 10 in the standings have used less than 16 players with Southampton who are currently third have used 14. Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United have 20 players who have played 500+ minutes while Chelsea’s nearest challengers Manchester City have used 17.
Both City and United have endured injuries to players, the latter having so much that Van Gaal appeared jovial in his press conference last weekend claiming to journalists, “We just have one player out injured. Can you believe that?”
Lets’ look further sticking out our neck questioning whether Mourinho’s lack of rotation cost Chelsea the title in May? The London side did look fatigued in the festive December period dropping 10 points and didn’t play well particularly against Newcastle last Saturday but managed to carve out a 2-0 win at home. Going back to last season, Mourinho’s side dropped points well at the business end of the campaign and let the title fall-out from their grasp. A look back shows Mourinho used 17 players who played over 500 minutes at the 20-match mark while City, the eventual Champions, had 19.
It’s evident that Mourinho tries to win every competition that he enters. Chelsea face Liverpool in the two-legged semi-finals of the Capital One Cup sandwiched between Premier League commitments. The FA Cup ties would also com as a distraction while the Blues are also expected to go further in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
There is no denying Mourinho’s managerial credentials but in reality Chelsea could have wrapped up the title by now had he rotated the squad a bit more often. A potential burnout could be on the cards for Chelsea should they lose one of their coming big matches. Thus, its vital for Mourinho to rotate his squad a bit too often using more of his squad; lest they again end the 2014-15 campaign with a barren spell without silverware.
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