Mourinho Risks Second Abramovich Feud with Threat to Resort to Defensive Tactics

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Mourinho Risks Second Abramovich Feud with Threat to Resort to Defensive Tactics
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Jose Mourinho is right when he asks for his current team not to be compared to the all-conquering Chelsea side he managed from 2004 up to his departure in September 2007.

"Please stop asking the same question every week [about how his teams compare]," he requested when being interviewed by Sky Sports in the aftermath of the loss to Sunderland in the Capital One Cup.

That team from almost a decade ago was one of the greats of Premier League history, winning back-to-back titles and shaking up English football like nothing else in a generation.

The Chelsea Mourinho inherited this summer is an altogether different beast, containing younger players who are yet to reach the peak he found John Terry, Frank Lampard et al when he first arrived.

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Chelsea were ready for success in 2004. They're not quite there just yet as years of managerial changes have meant instability has prolonged their transition from perceived footballing brutes to darlings of a beautiful game.

The changes at Chelsea have been significant in the nine years since Mourinho first walked through Stamford Bridge's front door.

What hasn't changed is the personality of the club's owner, Roman Abramovich.

The Russian demonstrated his ruthless streak within his first year of taking charge at the club, sacking Claudio Ranieri for his failure to lift the Premier League crown in 2003-04—the year of Arsenal's Invincibles, no less.

Ranieri simply didn't fit the bill and the Italian earned the unwanted accolade of being Abramovich's first managerial casualty.

But the Russian wasn't finished there, however. In fact, Abramovich was only getting started and a number of high-profile faces have come and gone since.

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Mourinho may be the longest-serving coach of the Abvramovich era, but he hasn't gone soft since the Portuguese's first spell.

Seven managers have bridged the gap between Mourinho's stints in charge and if the Chelsea boss makes good on his threats for a tactical reboot, he could be on for another collision course with the Blues owner.

"It's something I don't want to do, to play more counterattacking, but I'm giving it serious thought," he explained to The Guardian on Wednesday. "If I want to win 1-0 I think I can as I think it is one of the easiest things in football. It is not so difficult, as you don't give players the chance to express themselves.

"We are going in one direction and the right direction but it is quite frustrating. Football is about getting results and it's quite frustrating as we may have to take a step back in order to be more consistent at the back."

The line Abramovich has fed successive coaches at Chelsea, however, is quite the opposite to what Mourinho appears to be planning. It's widely known he craves dynamic, free-flowing attacking football and he has shown he's not afraid to hire and fire at will in pursuit of it.

Chelsea have spent hundreds of millions in acquiring diminutive attacking talents such as Juan Mata, Oscar, Andre Schurrle and Eden Hazard in recent seasons, also.

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Their transfers have been sanctioned in the belief they will give the Blues the flair needed to become the next dominant European force, but while they have been scintillating at times, they have been equally disappointing.

Abramovich isn't going to allow Mourinho to turn his back on this project. If it is 1-0 scorelines Mourinho is targeting in a bid to get wins and grind out results, it won't be long before the owner lets him know his discontent.

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The pair famously fell out in 2007, which led to Mourinho eventually leaving the club. Should the Portuguese make good on his word, things will only go one way once more.

It's a valid observation from Mourinho. Chelsea do need to address their defensive issues and as a short-term solution, shoring things up may get vital points on the board and relieve the pressure somewhat.

Let's remind ourselves, though. This isn't Mourinho's team just yet. He signed few of the players at his disposal and has made no secret of his desire to add a prolific striker to the squad to help turn Chelsea's dominance in games into victories.

Could he be trying to force Abramovich's hand, tempting the owner into spending big this January?

If so, it's a big gamble he cannot afford to lose.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes

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