Chelsea Focus - Pragmatic Mourinho the counterweight to silky Blues
The second coming of Jose Mourinho went very much according to plan as Chelsea tamed Premier League newcomers Hull City Tigers in the opening match of the season. Goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard were enough to give the Blues a comfortable three points and the Mourinho effect was obvious.
While a 2-0 home win for one of the division's top four against a newly-promoted side may not have caused too many surprises for the online betting world, it was a performance that had many hallmarks of a Mourinho-led team, and offered a brief insight into the brand of football Chelsea supporters can expect over the coming months.
Galvanised by a rocking Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were quick out of the traps in the first half, with the attacking triumvirate of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Oscar exhibiting a master class in precise passing and intelligent movement. Combined with the high pressing strategy of the Blues on the rare occasions that they didn't have control of the ball, comparisons to the stimulating approaches of Barcelona and, more recently, Bayern Munich were not hyperbolic.
Having found the net twice though, Mourinho's side retreated in the second period, preferring to drop off an extra few yards and allow the Tigers more time on the ball. With the extent of Steve Bruce's men's creativity stopping at the more limited skill set of Robert Koren and Robbie Brady, Chelsea's solid - if unspectacular and unambitious - unit were able to repel any infrequent and weak threats.
Reservation and tentativeness are not qualities regularly associated with champions in sport. The innate thirst to go in for the kill when an animal is bleeding and wounded (Tiger pun unintended) is normally cited as a trait which the best of the best are equipped with, no matter what the industry. Chelsea did not show that on Sunday afternoon.
However, Mourinho's methods are proven. Whether he was at Real Madrid, Inter or Chelsea, he is not interested in the grandiose score lines or flamboyant shows of trickery. Of course, he is a champion - but his success is built on pragmatism and always has the ultimate goal in sight. In this case, it's the Premier League title.
Imagine the Blues, in full flow after a dominating first-half performance, continued to press in the second period. The squad would be wasting energy ahead of three more important matches in the next 12 days, for the sake of no real quantifiable reward. It would have also encouraged Hull to counter-attack, a team who themselves had no intention of loosening their shape in search of a way back into the game and were instead satisfied with a respectable defeat.
Supporters pay excellent money to make their way through the turnstiles at Stamford Bridge each week and therefore, undoubtedly, deserve to be entertained to the maximum level. Mourinho may not always deliver that this season but there are few other managers in the world who can make success a likely outcome.