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‘Mourinho the master of surprise but Lampard usurped him’ – Ex-Chelsea star salutes apprentice who downed mentor

13:06 GMT 24/12/2019
Jose Mourinho Frank Lampard
The Blues tasted derby success when facing a familiar foe on Sunday, with Tottenham undone by a tactical tweak from neighbours that few saw coming

Jose Mourinho may be the “master of surprise” but the former Chelsea boss was usurped by Frank Lampard during Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat to the Blues, says Pat Nevin.

A master versus apprentice contest took place in north London on Sunday.

Mourinho, who delivered three Premier League titles across two spells at Stamford Bridge, shared a touchline with Lampard, who once starred for the side he led to so much success.

A young understudy claimed the upper hand, and all three points, in a fiercely-contested derby date, with Chelsea cementing a standing inside the top four.

Lampard’s decision to switch to a 3-4-3 system allowed his team to control proceedings at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Mourinho unable to respond to an unexpected tactical tweak.

Former Blues star Nevin told the club’s official website of a notable power shift: “There are plenty of top-flight managers that are wedded to one system or variations on one system. 

“[Antonio] Conte was famously and successfully like that with us in his first season. But you take a chance if you become too rigid. Others can prepare all the more easily to block you.

“Maurizio Sarri was the same in terms of rigidity of system and he also managed to get success for a period, but there are times when adaptability is just as important, if not more.

“That is what has arguably been most impressive about Chelsea this season, the willingness to change and the ability to change for different situations.

“It is clear by Jose’s remarks that the changes Frank made, he absolutely didn’t see coming for a moment. Jose has often been the master of surprise and the unexpected, so it must have been quite a shock to be usurped in this area by a relatively new manager.

“Maybe even more surprising was that Jose didn’t seem to be able to react to it quickly enough either.

“He must have quickly spotted that things weren’t working but it was only when his side were 2-0 down that he brought on [Christian] Eriksen for[Eric] Dier and changed his team’s shape noticeably.

“For the man who has regularly made substitutions in the first half to save a situation he was surprisingly reticent to do it this time even though his team were second best by a distance.

“Maybe he didn’t want to upset any of his players this time, but that isn’t usually his modus operandi.

“So well done Frank but that is only round one against Jose Mourinho and doubtless he will be back with plans of his own next time.

“It must however secretly bolster our current coach’s belief in his tactical awareness, not that he had anything to be unsure about, but this was one of the big dogs in the game being outmanoeuvred and outthought.”

Chelsea’s triumph away from home, secured courtesy of a brace from Brazilian forward Willian, has given them a four-point cushion in the Champions League places.

They will be back in action on Boxing Day against Southampton, before wrapping up their 2019 schedule when taking in another derby date with Arsenal.