Jose Mourinho spent an entire summer trying to lure Wayne Rooney to Stamford Bridge, yet in the week the England man brought up 200 goals in Manchester red, the failure to sign him was sorely felt by those in Chelsea blue.
Swiss side Basel stunned their hosts with a second-half comeback in West London, ending a run of 29 home games without defeat in the Champions League group stages.
Samuel Eto’o, brought in after Mourinho gave up his pursuit of Rooney, failed to score for a second game running, while Demba Ba made no impact from the bench. Fernando Torres, who was so prolific in Europe last term, did not even feature.
"When we lose I don't speak about the players or individuals. I speak about my responsibility," Mourinho said, per BBC Sport. "I'm happy with the three strikers for the rest of the season."
The need for a Rooney-like player is obvious for Chelsea right now. Eto’o, Ba and Torres all want to turn and face goal, whereas the United man is just as happy to bring others into play.
Eto’o often ran wide against Basel, as he has done throughout his career. He runs channels, uses his (fading) speed and looks to get in behind opposition defences.
At times, that will be an asset to Chelsea this season. But in games when teams set up to defend deep and counter at speed, Mourinho needs a player who can bring his vast array of No. 10s into the action.
That player still wears a Manchester United jersey.
Mourinho attempted to take all the blame upon himself for the 2-1 defeat but could not turn the spotlight away from his players entirely. Too inexperienced and too naive was the message from Mike Walters of the Daily Mirror:
I think the team does not have the maturity or the personality to face the difficult moments.
Against Everton last weekend, we played an amazing game, they scored in the last minute of the first half - and after that you could feel the team was struggling a little bit.
This was a bit of the same. We started by accepting the responsibility of playing, but when the first negative moment arrives, the team shakes a bit.
Mourinho’s first era of success was built upon a powerful forward named Didier Drogba, who forever played with his back to goal to give Frank Lampard the platform needed to plunder goals from midfield.
Rooney would provide it, but for now Mourinho insists he is happy with Eto’o. It will mean a different style of play for Chelsea, a test of Mourinho’s ability to adapt, but he has shown at Inter Milan and Real Madrid he can find the formula.
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