Social media feeds the hysteria that has always surrounded the game and, as expected, Twitter was awash with debate and counter-debate over the perceived injustice that referee Andre Marriner had served the Baggies.
Had Ramires dived? Had he duped the referee? Was there minimal contact from Steven Reid? Was it just a bad decision from Marriner? The consensus appeared that it wasn’t a penalty and, by extension, Chelsea were lucky to extend their unbeaten run at home under Mourinho to 66 games.
The Portuguese, often feted for his refreshing honesty in the aftermath of games, was, in the face of what appeared overwhelming evidence, insistent that the penalty call was a good one – switching the focus to the timing of the decision rather than its validity:
“The penalty comes at a moment which is difficult for the team that’s winning to accept. But a penalty is a penalty, minute one or minute 94, and this one was a penalty."
Granted, on first look, it is pretty standard fare. Mourinho couldn’t reasonably turn around and say that his player had dived particularly after he had passed judgement during the week in the wake of Ashley Young’s latest diving furore.
“I hate it. If, because of diving, a football result directly is affected, I think the player should be punished. But I don’t need to speak to my players because they don’t dive.”
However, Mourinho could have absolved his player of blame, and passed the bulk of the responsibility of the decision to Marriner – he could have said that it was a fortunate penalty to be awarded but there was some contact.
The fact that Mourinho elected to increase the debate surrounding the decision says much of Chelsea’s performance – not for the first time this season, Chelsea, at best, flattered to deceive, and, at worst, looked shorn of ideas against a functional but limited side.
The debate in the wake of this result should not be whether the penalty should have been given or not; it should, for a successive week, be on the callow nature of Chelsea’s performance.
Top-heavy with midfield schemers of a diminutive stature, it has been argued previously by Jan Molby that this Chelsea team is not a “Mourinho team”; if managers have a type, then Mourinho’s is a pulveriser. He likes to batter teams into submission.
This is not a criticism. There is a beauty to this brutality – his Real Madrid side were adept at hectoring teams before executing ferociously quick transitions, as were his original Chelsea team, but he patently does not have the personnel at his disposal for this Chelsea side to play in that way.
If there is a criticism, it is that Mourinho has been unwilling to adapt tactically – yes, there is nothing wrong with building from a stable base but a team should play to its own strengths and, as it stands, Chelsea are failing to do that.
Yes, Chelsea are undeniably well-positioned in the table, but this is largely down to circumstance, with the Manchester clubs, Liverpool and, to an extent, Tottenham, in the midst of transition.
Eleven games in, Chelsea’s sum of 21 points will have seen them six adrift of Manchester United this time last year and 10 short of Manchester City’s total the year before, so forget the penalty, concentrate on the performance because if Chelsea continue to serve up performances of this calibre then any hopes of a first Premier League title since 2010 will soon be dashed.
Follow Marcus Foley on Twitter @MMJFoley