Jose Mourinho says Chelsea’s style change to blame for defeats

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There is never a dull moment when Jose Mourinho is around… but right now, there are a few too many defeats.

Following their second loss in a week, the Portuguese manager blamed Chelsea’s recent poor form on their bad style of play that has been developed over the previous years,

Mourinho claims he is trying to change the way they play, to a more attractive and aesthetically pleasing manner.

“I don’t like the way Chelsea were playing in the last couple of years,” Mourinho said. “The club doesn’t like it and we want to change. When you want to build something different and the players are adapted and comfortable – it’s more difficult.”

Tomorrow’s West London Derby against Fulham, (12:30pm ET, watch live on NBCSN or online via NBC Sports Live Extra) presents the perfect opportunity for Chelsea to get back to winning ways after a rough seven days. But will the ‘Special One’ play it safe against the Blues’ neighbors?

Of course not.

“If someone expects me to play against Fulham tomorrow with nine players behind the ball and wait for them to make a mistake and win 1-0, then I will not go home happy,” Mourinho said. “We have a lot to do. The work I have to do does not sell papers – big defeats and big victories do – but the only thing I can do is to have belief in my players and wait for the results to come.”

(MORE: Preview – Chelsea vs. Fulham)

But despite being under heavy criticism from some portions of the press, the man Chelsea fans adore knows only too well just how fickle the game can be.

“Tomorrow maybe we win 3-0 against Fulham and everything is perfect,” Mourinho said. “Or maybe I will lose for the first time at home at Chelsea in four years and 200 league matches, and it is a big story. Football is not mathematic. I don’t know.”

Yet, it seems like Mourinho believes that previous managers have only been worried about grinding out wins with the West London club, instead of developing and nurturing free-flowing attacking soccer that will please the masses. True. There’s no denying that under the last few managers a defensive and rather dull style of play has emanated from the boys in blue.

(MORE: Basel pull of first Champions League upset, beat Chelsea)

However, can you blame Messrs Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez? All three were under huge amounts of pressure to succeed straight away. AVB had no success after less than six months on the job, but his predecessor Di Matteo somehow won the UEFA Champions League through a spirited mishmash of veteran determination, staunch defensive displays and lady luck. And then, following Di Matteo’s crazy dismissal, Rafael Benitez was yet another interim boss given the reigns. He had no time to work on a new style of play at Chelsea, and instead carried on with the status quo.

source: AP
Chelsea are failing to click into an attacking rhythm, as Mourinho tries to usher in a new style of play.

After all those short-term appointments and the various different players brought in, Mourinho is now left to pick up the pieces. I’m not saying he hasn’t inherited a squad that doesn’t possess world class players, because he has. But they are players who have been pulled one way, then the other, in terms of their tactical approach to play the game, after having so many coaches and ideas thrown at them over the past two seasons.

Now, Mourinho has a long-term project, a mantra to get Chelsea back to playing attacking soccer that will excite and delight the fans and make them one of Europe’s greatest teams. And despite Roman Abramovich’s ruthless style of ownership that has seen Mourinho himself fired in the past and many others after him, the Russian billionaire should give the ‘Special One’ time to develop a special brand of soccer at Chelsea.

This won’t be easy. There will be speed bumps along the way — just like Everton last weekend and Basel midweek — but if Mourinho is given time to work with these top players on the training ground over an extended period of time, there’s no doubt that one of the greatest coaches European soccer has ever seen will get it right.

It takes time to create a thing of beauty. Get off Mourinho’s back and let his ‘young eggs’ flourish.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia