Jose Mourinho has an incredible squad at his disposal. He could potentially name two strong starting line-ups with no appreciable loss in quality. Rotation of players has long been frowned upon in the English league, but in the days when there are two matches every week, it becomes a necessity.
Chelsea fans will know that Mourinho is not a fan of rotation. Didier Drogba played an incredible 60 matches in the 2006-07 season, while the likes of Frank Lampard and John Terry are no strangers to such mind boggling numbers.
The squad is arguably stronger in midfield than during his first spell. Hence, it seemed very strange that he decided to go with just one change for the tough encounter against FC Basel. To be fair, Mourinho realised his mistake and has said that he may make changes in the forthcoming matches. He said:
This situation maybe helps me to make decisions when we have consecutive matches. I got signs of fatigue and players having trouble playing two consecutive matches in three days.
That will push me for sure to make different decisions. That’s obvious.
In some positions we have that situation resolved in a very easy way, because we have lots of players to play the attacking positions behind the strikers to try to give the team the sharpness it needs to win every game.
We will make decisions but it’s not a question of punishment; it’s a question of using the squad and the options we have.
It is great that Mourinho has realised his mistake in a match that will not hurt our season much. Despite the defeat, Chelsea have still made it to the last 16 stage. The last match of the group stages should be a winnable encounter against Steaua Bucharest at home.
Mourinho has said in recent times that he will rotate the squad, but he is yet to implement it.
Mourinho’s latest comments could also mean that the likes of Juan Mata and David Luiz will see more action in the coming weeks. Mata was once again on the bench and he was never used. Oscar was preferred in the place of Mata, but only Mourinho will know why a World Cup and Champions League winner is not good enough for a place in the team. Has Oscar been much better than Mata of the last two years? Absolutely not.
Cahill constantly gave the ball away, while Lampard continues to play two matches per week even at 35 years of age. Lampard is one of Chelsea’s greatest players, but is Mourinho suggesting that there is no one good enough to replace a midfielder coming to the end of his career?
There are times when rotation must be done and this match demonstrates this fact more than anything else.