Why Chelsea skipper’s jibes about “tippy tappy football” and its failings are wide of the mark.


It’s not a word one commonly associated with Chelsea’s outspoken captain. Aggression? Yes. Physicality? Definitely. No-nonsense? With bells on. Finesse? Not so much.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 18: John Terry of Chelsea looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on April 18, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

So it’s little surprise, then, that he doesn’t overly rate “tippy tappy football” – he wouldn’t know it if it hit him square in the face.

Speaking after the Arsenal game, here are some of the gems he has come out with and why they are a bit shortsighted.

“Possession and tippy-tappy football’s great, but if you are not winning games you’re not going to win the league.”

Both halves of this statement make sense in isolation, but if you put them together it exposes Mourinho’s greatest weakness – he doesn’t know how to win pretty. Yes, you need to win games to win the league, and of course “tippy-tappy” football is great, but the assumption that they are mutually exclusive is not.

Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson, (and even the various Liverpool and Spurs managers to a certain extent) have built footballing philosophies and instilled them in their teams. Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, has instilled a stifling mentality which is as uninspiring as it is effective in big games.

It’s also the reason, dear forgetful Mr Terry, why Chelsea didn’t win the league last season despite being by far the best placed team to do so – they drew too many games with their negative approach, including a 0-0 bore draw at the Emirates when other top sides had had us on the ropes.

And even more recently it’s the reason why they were knocked it of Europe this season. Mourinho’s formula may have worked one year when he was at Inter, but that was still the only year in recent memory where a more flamboyant side hasn’t been successful. Of course effective defence is important but against the top European sides it comes unstuck more often that not.

“We’ve dug deep and other teams haven’t, and that is why they are so far behind us.”

Well, it seems Mr Terry can’t remember recent history that well either, when both United’s and our own squads have been decimated by injuries. But of course, both sides should have just dug deep (into their reserves packed with buy-to-let players purchased for millions) to pick up points.

“We are definitely not boring and if we do go on to win it, nobody’s going to remember the performances when perhaps it’s not been that exciting.”

Well, it seems Mr Terry has forgotten why Jose Mourinho left Chelsea the first time around. It seems even Russian billionaires who are mostly interested in bragging rights still want to see (and be renowned for) attractive football.

There’s a difference between taking a conservative approach to avoid losing the game and making no effort whatsoever to go forward even when presented with dangerous set pieces and the like.

Short Termism

As mentioned earlier, Mourinho simply doesn’t know how to win pretty. Sure, there have been some big wins when other teams implode (looking at you Swansea!) or just completely self destruct as we did last year, but he simply isn’t capable of building a team with a flowing and attractive style.

Indeed, he’s seemingly incapable of an approach which is ultimately more likely to build a generation of success rather than the short term “conquer and destroy” approach that Mourinho has taken at pretty much all his clubs.

A Mourinho side may win trophies, but it will never hit the dizzy heights of the Class of 92, the Invincibles or the Barcelona of old.

So sure, play how you like – that’s your prerogative. But it doesn’t mean we have to like it, that we can’t criticise it when you bring it to our door, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s not boring, just because you chose to play that way intentionally.


Controversial as this may be, I’d rather watch an exciting team every week than win the odd trophy but be bored out of my brains. Sure, nine years without a trophy has been tough from a bragging rights point of view, but have I still enjoyed going to games, enjoyed the style of play, enjoyed the overall football world we are such an indelible part of? Of course.

It’s a fact of life that there are more teams than trophies – you’re never going to win every year, even if you’re the best side in the history of the game. So you need to enjoy the journey as well as where you end up.

I’ve written before about how, in a way, we should be grateful that in the years we couldn’t compete at the very top, however stressful it was, at least we played entertaining football and had some excitement.

Call me a romantic, but when I fell in love with football as a child it was a result of the style, passion and drama, a love for the very essence of the game. Maybe I am tainted because I’ve known very little BW (Before Wenger).

But one thing I do know.

You cannot fall in love with this Chelsea side.

For all that I hated the United team that vied for superiority with us through the nineties and early Millennial years, I still respected the brand of football they played.

This Chelsea side’s attitude, along with that of their captain, is a plague that needs curing, and I reserve the right to chant to that effect.

Boring, boring Chelsea!