Comment: Jose Mourinho makes clear his mistrust of current crop of Chelsea strikers Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba

The Blues started the match against Manchester United without a single recognised striker

Old Trafford

Even for Jose Mourinho, this wasn’t particularly subtle. As his wait for the arrival of a top-class centre-forward extends into the final week of the transfer window, the Chelsea manager opted to hand Andre Schürrle his full debut out of his natural position away at the Premier League champions here last night.

It was an implicitly damning assessment of his strikers Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku, who were both left to ponder their plight on the substitutes’ bench. It was an even further and harder fall from grace for Demba Ba as he went from leading the line against Hull City to watching the game from anonymity outside the matchday squad.

Of course, being Mourinho, he could not just leave it at an interpretation of the team-sheet. In his pre-match television interview, the 50-year-old said: “I go for mobility, I want to come to try to win the game, but instead of playing with one target man I play with four attacking players and we are going to try to create them problems.”

Torres, Lukaku and Ba are by that criterion immobile. Ouch. Mourinho’s selection was inevitably and tantalisingly juxtaposed with David Moyes’ decision to start Wayne Rooney from the outset for Manchester United.

Rooney, the subject of sustained  interest from Stamford Bridge, found himself the subject of a rather odd sensation: cheers from all four corners of the ground. The last time these two sides met here in May, both sets of supporters were united in their derision of Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez.

Indeed, had Benitez picked this particular line-up, there would surely have been a greater degree of consternation among the travelling support, especially given Juan Mata’s absence.

Mata was the club’s best player last season and the explanation that the Spaniard is short of match fitness after a hamstring injury looks increasingly suspect when he is omitted from matches of this magnitude.

Surely Mata three-quarters fit is worth inclusion if Mourinho really fancied him? Chelsea certainly lacked penetration during the opening period. United made more of the running as the Blues lacked a presence in  attack to hold the ball up sufficiently so they could retort on the break.

Schürrle, who scored 11 goals in 34 league games for Bayer Leverkusen last season from the left flank prior to his £18m move, worked tirelessly but Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic rarely looked troubled.

Mourinho watched stoically from the sidelines. He made notes using an electronic notepad on a device that looked likely to also take phone calls, presumably in case his team selection elicited an immediate response from owner Roman Abramovich or an agent with a striker to shift wanted a word.

The player chief among his thoughts – Rooney – was doing his best to ignite United. He was inventive in possession and industrious without, but United were not at their free-flowing best.

Mourinho abandoned the Schürrle plan with an hour played. Torres  entered the fray with Schürrle moved left but the pattern of the game altered little. A match with a subtext all about strikers ended goalless.

“The result in the end will make the judgement – Jose was right or Jose was wrong,” concluded Mourinho in that pre-match exchange. A draw at Old Trafford was a satisfactory conclusion for Chelsea. The fact it was achieved while highlighting the club’s need for another striker will bring a knowing smile to his face.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before