Mourinho is all about players he knows and trusts – hence the reason he loaned out Romelu Lukaku. He enjoys players he has worked with before, and players who respond to how to works. Eto’o, who played such a central role in that remarkable 2009-10 campaign at Inter, is certainly one of them.
I’m not suggesting Eto’o is good enough to win trophies by himself but he will play a part. He has reached a stage now – like Didier Drogba in his last season at Chelsea - where he doesn’t play every game but he has the experience and class to turn it on when it matters.
Mourinho believes in players who have seen it all, with hundreds of games under their belts. Eto’o has done that with Inter Milan and Barcelona: he has all the big-match experience in the world. Sometimes you think that aspect can be over-rated, but in Mourinho’s book it’s the be all and end all.
It was a brave move to bring him back but it looks like paying off. He is still a good player. He has that sharpness, that pace. But he was always going to take a little time after almost two years of football in Russia.
Mourinho knows what he gets with him: he isn’t a classic No. 9 but he is a striker with a lot of movement and a lot of pace. He still has a very, very quick shot. When he gets a chance he pulls the trigger very quickly and doesn’t give goalkeepers a lot of time to react.
While he obviously isn’t the player he was a few years ago, he is a welcome addition. Eto’o is a fine player and Mourinho has got him motivated again and explained to him that there I still a bit of glory left for him at the highest level.
He obviously went to Anzhi for the cash and Mourinho was right to say that his motivation dropped off during his time in Russia, but as a player you always want to do your best.
The problem is that automatically playing at a lower level does affect you. Everything is different to what you are used to. You are no longer on the biggest scene with the best players in the world and it did have an effect on him.
I doubted whether he would be able to recapture his best form but he does look sprightly and full of energy. He looks capable of making an impact.
Eto’o is likely to start again at the weekend against West Bromwich Albion as Fernando Torres is injured but when he returns the Spaniard deserves another chance because he was hitting some kind of form with goals against Schalke and Manchester City.
Whereas maybe a month ago we were talking about Chelsea and saying that in some games it was almost as though they were playing with 10 men as they didn’t have an effective forward, all of a sudden they have two. If they can get both of those firing regularly then all credit will go to Mourinho.
Although Torres has the same sort of pace, I think he is more of an old-fashioned No. 9. He wants to play more centrally and is a goalscorer. He creates from time to time but that isn’t his strength. Eto’o has a more rounded game but Torres at his best is just that little bit more explosive.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jose Mourinho