As Chelsea methodically broke down a naive Liverpool side at Anfield yesterday afternoon, social media was aghast as Jose Mourinho attempted, and succeeded, to frustrate the Premier League leaders by coming up with a strategy that didn't sit well with the football purists.
But at a time when the beautiful game around the world possesses contrasting styles and different cultures, why is there such an uproar when a coach goes against the misguided belief that the only thing that we all love about the sport is its attacking elements?
We all have our own opinions on how football should be played. Some will gain excitement and satisfaction from the attacking prowess that Liverpool have displayed throughout this season and some will appreciate the tactical elements of a game that never fails to deliver. But whichever side of the fence you sit, football is a results-orientated business and whether it's Mourinho or another coach, teams will set up to play to their own strengths, not that of the opposition.
Much of yesterday's criticism for Mourinho might revolve around his role in disrupting the progressive fairytale story that has unfolded on Merseyside since August, or it might simply be a dislike for the opinion-dividing Portuguese, but whether anyone likes it or not, Mourinho's gameplan yesterday displayed something that, from a tactical perspective at least, was captivating.
Mourinho has proven throughout his career that he is a winner. He tries to get the job done at all costs, whether that's to everyone's liking or not. He doesn't believe in attacking or defensive philosophies - he believes in adaptation and applying different tactics to earn success.
© Getty Images
With several first-team players unavailable and Atletico Madrid on his mind, Mourinho was never going to get anywhere by going gung-ho against arguably the best attacking team in the country. Liverpool rely on overpowering the opposition and finding space in between the defence and midfield, but yesterday afternoon, they were met by a blue wall that they couldn't find a way to break down.
Chelsea got their bit of luck when Steven Gerrard's slip allowed Demba Ba to score the opening goal, but it's no fluke that the Stamford Bridge outfit have dominated fixtures against the top four this season. They've kept clean sheets at the Etihad, the Emirates and Anfield not through defensive performances, but as a result of Mourinho's tactical nous. There wasn't too many complaints when Sir Alex Ferguson used to employ Park Ji-Sung as a winger against the top sides, and he did alright, didn't he?
While many suggested that Mourinho opted for an "anti-football" approach for the game at Anfield yesterday, hardly anyone has spoken of the fact that his opposite number, Brendan Rodgers, had been suckered in to the belief that his side, justifiably full of confidence, were incapable of failing to overcome any kind of resistance that was placed in front of them. Respect must go to Rodgers for the team that he has built since his arrival at the club, but yesterday was the first time that he showed his inexperience as a boss at a major club.
After spending time working alongside Mourinho in West London, the Northern Irishman should have been prepared for what his former associate had planned for his team, but he came up short, as did his players. Once the opening exchanges were over, Liverpool quickly grew frustrated when all they needed was a calming influence to match Chelsea's attempts of slowing down the contest.
© Getty Images
Luis Suarez quickly began to show signs of the petulance that sometimes overshadows his current status as one of the best players in world football, Gerrard was too eager to atone for his error in the first half, and after his introduction, Daniel Sturridge barely had a kick as Chelsea broke down the majority of Liverpool's attacks with ease.
Mourinho's detractors are quick to allude to his apparent forgetfulness when he criticises an opponent for "parking the bus" - or a few smaller vehicles at least - but this isn't Mourinho displaying attributes of a hypocrite, it's his child-like bitterness to falling short with his tactics. When West Ham United stopped Chelsea scoring earlier in the season, Mourinho was critical of Sam Allardyce, but the Hammers boss got it spot-on when he said that the 51-year-old doesn't like being "out-tacticed".
Some of the top clubs in England focus more on philosophies rather than tactics - it's arguably the main reason why Mourinho has enjoyed so much success over Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman has frequently come up short because his teams lack variety because of his insistence on relying on a style of play that was effective a decade ago. The flair might still be there, but Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere are no Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva. The supporters will salivate over their style of play, but it's worth nothing if you don't win trophies.
Ever since Barcelona and Spain began to blow teams away with their inventiveness in the final third, there has been a craving to replicate their style, but that's not always possible. Whether it's retaining possession or stretching "time-wasting" to the limit, there is more than one way to win a football match and Mourinho understands that more than any other coach in the world.
Football is a results business, especially at the top of the game, and if you get results, you generally keep your job. Owners are more concerned with gaining a return on their investment rather than seeing their team win or lose 6-4 every weekend. Tactics, whether they are perceived to be positive or negative, sporting or not, are part and parcel of football and will continue to be in the future. If you're expecting football to evolve into a sport where both managers encourage their sides to throw caution to the wind on a game-by-game basis, then you are probably going to be disappointed.