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Mourinho Deserves Blame for Chelsea Striker Woe

04/04/2014 16:38 BST | Updated 04/06/2014 10:59 BST

You could understand Jose Mourinho's acute frustration after the 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first-leg defeat by Paris St Germain. Not only had he just seen Javier Pastore slalom through a statuesque defence to beat Petr Cech at his near post, changing the complexion of a finely-balanced tie, but he realised that his persistence with Fernando Torres had been misplaced.

The Spaniard, who replaced Andre Schurrle with half an hour remaining at the Parc des Princes, was woeful when Mourinho needed him most. His touch was hapless and his demeanour disinterested. It was one of his more lamentable cameos in a Stamford Bridge career that has rarely exceeded mediocrity.

But Mourinho knew he was taking a risk in going into his first season back with a strike force of Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba. Eto'o has been in excellent recent form, scoring against Tottenham Hotspur, Galatasaray and Arsenal before limping off against the Gunners, but each of his 11 goals have come at Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, aside from his goal in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest in the group stages of the Champions League in December, Ba's role has been to add gloss to an already convincing scoreboard after coming off the substitutes' bench. He has been increasingly peripheral since arriving from Newcastle United in January 2013.

Last night was confirmation that Mourinho's gamble has backfired.

If profligacy fatally undermines Chelsea's Premier League and Champions League hopes, his decision to allow Romelu Lukaku to join Everton on loan will be scrutinised even more closely. The 20-year-old Belgian has scored 15 goals at Goodison Park in all competitions this season, offering the physicality and consistency that Mourinho cherished in Didier Drogba. Lukaku has been talismanic where his more experienced rivals have been wasteful.

Mourinho will certainly wince if Liverpool win the Premier League title this season, for Daniel Sturridge, the former Blues striker, will have played a significant part. The 24-year-old looks a snip at £12m and while it was Mourinho's nemesis Rafael Benitez who authorised the sale of Sturridge, it bears all the hallmarks of a reckless decision.

The Portuguese is the master of deflecting blame, and yesterday he turned on his front men, damningly questioning whether they are "real strikers". It must have hurt to see Laurent Blanc field a front trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani on Wednesday night; an attacking triumvirate of considerable verve and pedigree. It is as if Mourinho picked Schurrle in a fit of pique to show the comparative paucity of his options.

But then he knew it would be difficult to prise his primary target, Wayne Rooney, from the clutches of Manchester United last summer. The 28-year-old has thrived amidst the gloom at Old Trafford this season, and would certainly have given a PSG defence containing the suspect figures of Alex and Christophe Jallet a little more to think about. Mourinho's contingency plan was Eto'o, a 33-year-old who has performed in fits and starts but whose best days have already gone.

Mourinho has every right to be frustrated with recent events. Defeats against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and now PSG have threatened to render Chelsea's season trophyless, and while last night witnessed an unusually slipshod defensive performance, it is a lack of goals that is undermining them. While Liverpool and Manchester City have plundered 88 and 80 respectively in the Premier League, Chelsea have scored just 62; 14 of those have come from winger Eden Hazard, whose job is principally to create.

Admittedly, Mourinho's natural inclination is to set his team up not to lose a game - they have conceded just 24 league goals this season - but the absence of a potent spearhead has damaged their campaign and left the likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry, both of whom have excelled this season, with no margin for error.

Mourinho can point the finger at his strikers all he likes, but his return to Chelsea was an open secret long before the transfer window opened. He should have identified the problem and come up with various solutions before the start of the season, not when it is getting to its most crucial juncture.

Recent cryptic comments have referred to a "striker coming in" in the summer; Atletico Madrid's 32-goal Diego Costa has been mooted, alongside Monaco striker Falcao and Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk.

Any of these would transform this Chelsea side into formidable contenders on all fronts, but they are not here now, and there is no guarantee that any of them will be come 1 September.

Mourinho is right: his strikers are not up to the task. But he must take his share of the blame for that.