Monday Moan: Willian bid unnecessary

Mark Holmes questions Chelsea's need to hijack Tottenham's bid for Willian and argues Joe Hart's consistency is now a serious problem.

Last Updated: 27/08/13 at 08:13 Post Comment

Willian: On his way to Chelsea

Willian: On his way to Chelsea

Mourinho comments hard to swallow

Back in mid-July, Jose Mourinho insisted that Wayne Rooney was Chelsea's only remaining transfer target for the summer.

Having already signed Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer - and welcomed Michael Essien, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku back into his squad - Mourinho seemingly viewed Rooney as the final piece of the jigsaw at Stamford Bridge.

Of course, as Mourinho admitted himself, no manager can ever say for certain that their business is completed while the transfer window is still open: "We all say no [we don't want to sign players] but we lie, until the last day of the market we are all waiting for something to happen, even when we say we are very happy with our squad we lie because we always want to make it better."

The best managers are constantly looking to improve their squad. When players become available that are better than those currently at the club, it is only natural that a manager can be tempted into another previously unplanned signing.

A fine example was QPR's capture of Julio Cesar last summer, just over a month after they had signed Rob Green for their number one jersey. As it turns out, it was one of Mark Hughes' few good decisions in the transfer market.

However, in the case of Chelsea and Willian, it is hard to see how Mourinho can justify the signing. With Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata already at the club, not to mention a number of able stand-ins, there is no obvious gap in the Blues' team for Willian to fill.

It may be that he turns out to be an inspired purchase, and it may be that Mourinho has moved for the Brazilian because he does not, strangely, see a place in his side for Mata.

For now, though, it is hard to believe, even for Chelsea fans, that Mourinho has not moved for the 25-year-old purely to prevent him from joining a potential Premier League title rival in Tottenham.

In a week in which Mourinho comically stated that it would be "ethical" of Chelsea to hold off making another bid for Rooney until after Monday night's game against Manchester United, the Portuguese's motives are justifiably being questioned.

Furthermore, Mourinho suggested over the weekend that it would be wrong of United to refuse to sell Rooney to Chelsea because of their shared ambitions.

"That old-fashioned mentality of, 'I don't sell players to clubs in the same country' - I think doesn't help," he said.

"Sometimes you push players abroad when you should be keeping them in your league because then you are contributing to making your league the best league."

His words would not appear quite so hollow were he not stockpiling top-class players at his own club, costing at least one the chance of regular games at a major Premier League outfit.

Mourinho is not unique in wanting as many good players at his club and as few at others as is possible, but he would do well to shelve talk of ethics for the timebeing as both United and Tottenham stew over his actions of the past seven days.

Tottenham must move for Plan B

With Willian no longer an option, Tottenham's need for an alternative playmaker was highlighted by their second 1-0 win of the new season, at home to Swansea City on Sunday.

Erik Lamela looks likely to arrive this week to provide one option, but Andre Villas-Boas' pursuit of him alongside Willian suggests the Argentine was earmarked for a wide role in Spurs' preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

Willian, presumably, was the player Villas-Boas had in mind to replace Gareth Bale in the No.10 role he performed so admirably in the second half of last season.

The signings of Etienne Capoue and Paulinho have dramatically improved Spurs' options in the heart of the midfield - they may well have secured a top-four spot had they not been forced to rely on Scott Parker for so long in Sandro's absence last season - but Capoue is an out-and-out holding midfielder, while Paulinho, although impressive, does not appear capable of taking on the responsibility of playmaker if his opening performances are anything to go by.

Mousa Dembele, too, lacks the vision to create chances in the way Luka Modric used to do on such a regular basis for the Lilywhites. For all their strengthening in midfield, Spurs still have not replaced the Croatian.

Chelsea's late move for Willian will have left a sour taste in the mouths of all involved at White Hart Lane, but they must now move to a Plan B otherwise the overhaul facilitated by Bale's impending exit may not work out quite as well as they would have hoped.

Hart howlers becoming too common

It has been a common complaint of Manchester United fans that David De Gea's errors have been scrutinised far more heavily than those of his Manchester City counterpart, Joe Hart.

There is, however, a good reason for that.

While the criticism of De Gea centred around his difficulty in dealing with high balls (something he has improved hugely, incidentally), there was no obvious theme to the mistakes made by Hart last season. He just made a few howlers, the sort of which any goalkeeper is capable of making.

Now, though, Hart's form is becoming a serious concern. In his younger years, David James was a fine goalkeeper whose error-proneness made him untrustworthy for club and country, and Hart is heading in the same direction.

There is no obvious deficiency in his game that a coach can iron out; he simply isn't as consistent as the goalkeeper at a top club should be.

That explains why former City assistant David Platt revealed on Sunday that Roberto Mancini would have moved for Stoke stopper Asmir Begovic had he remained in charge.

Unless Hart can cut out the mistakes, he might find Mauricio Pellegrini having similar thoughts.

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