Monday 25 August 2014

Courtois vs. Cech: And the Winner is...Chelsea FC

José Mourinho intended to keep it secret who would be his “number 1” in goal until the league kicked off. His choice was between 32-year-old incumbent Petr Cech and the ten years younger Thibaut Courtois, Belgium’s national goalie, who was returning from a loan spell at Atletico Madrid, where he became champion in La Liga and played the Champions’ League final. News reports indicated Cech had appeared nervous at the training ground a couple of days before the first game, possibly indicating he was to be benched.

On the first league day, it was indeed Courtois who made his appearance. Chelsea beat Burnley 1-3 after having been 1-0 down. In the first home game, Leicester City was the opponent. After a goalless first half, the Match Of The Day commentator concluded it had been the poorest half-time performance of Chelsea under Mourinho ever. The Blues turned the game around in the second half, beating Leicester 2-0. Gary Lineker asked Mourinho after the game whether “strong words” had been said during half time. “Objective words”, replied the Special One.

When Diego Costa opened the score, the path to victory had already been paved by Courtois, especially with an incredible foot-save in a one-on-one with Leicester striker Nugent. The confidence demonstrated by Courtois also with some – easier – aerial interventions – as Alan Shearer in the BBC studio indicated – is all-important for the rest of team: to know there’s a really solid lock on the door serves as a confidence boost to the entire team. Quite arguably, Chelsea had won the game with Courtois’ save(s) – Diego Costa’s and Hazard’s goals merely sealed what had already been won. Already in his first home game for Chelsea, the Belgian youngster had convinced the most ardent Cech fans he was the obvious choice going forward.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

When Lineker asked Mourinho about the decision, the Special One confirmed it had been a tough choice – Mourinho is known to have placed more faith in Cech after he returned from a severe head injury in 2007 than the goalkeeper had had in himself at the time, setting the Czech up for years of successes at Chelsea. When Chelsea won the Champions’ League final only two years ago, Cech had a big stake in it – saving penalties during extra time and shootout. Today, he’s still considered to be outstanding – and a club monument at Chelsea.

The Portuguese explained in the post-game interview that when he must choose between (the interests of) individual players and club, he chooses the club. Courtois had a 2-year contract left at Chelsea and in case he would not play, they were likely to lose him to a competitor. Mourinho is known for predicting even the most unlikely of events – this was an easy shot. Club over players. Mourinho is willing to sacrifice his lieutenant for the good of the army – not his own glory.

When he benched Casillas at Real Madrid for Diego López, people suspected a clash of egos was what was going on. Sacrilege. Mutiny. None of that. After the 2014 CL final and the World Cup, people are starting to realise that what Mourinho was trying to do, was set up Real for a new successful era. Let’s see if they will manage to win La Liga with the reinstated San Iker. Given Real’s impressive midfield and frontline, their fate will probably be not as bleak as the one of the Spanish national team – of holding hands while going down together. But to win another trophy, Real will need to score plenty of goals.

What about Petr Cech? His career is far from over. He has the choice between remaining at Chelsea as a cherished substitute or become number one at pretty much any top club in the world – happy to take on an experienced goalkeeper likely to remain top of his game for a couple of more seasons. I would advise him to elect the second – it’s not admitting defeat, it’s choosing wisely. 

Cech will remain Mourinho fan for life. Why? ‘Cause he understands it’s not at all personal. It has nothing to do with Cech not being good enough today – not even necessarily not as good as Courtois is today. And the Happy One will not force him to choose either the exit or the bench option, for the same reason.

Source: tn.nova.cz

Few youngsters get the love from Mourinho Courtois is getting – not by words, but by deeds. Courtois must be special. Personally, I will never be a real fan of him, due to his Racing Genk past. Objectively, he’s probably already the best in the world in his position – and likely to get only better over the years to come.

Chelsea have their new number 1 for the next decade. How’s that for a boost of confidence? Money cannot buy you a team that will become champion. But it does hire you a genius, i.e. someone who – according to Einstein’s definition – does not solve, but prevents problems.