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A new era for Chelsea Football Club?
'Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.'
And in came Jose Mourinho, and smashed the club transfer record with the signing of Didier Drogba.
Spending in excess of £130 million in his first season, which marked Chelsea's transfer policies for the first Abramovich decade - buy your way to instant success.
Over the decade we saw a host of superstars come in and go out. Bought for some of the most exorbitant sums, and offered ridiculous salaries, but only some of them were able to prove their mettle.
We've had the likes of Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Arjen Robben, Ashely Cole maybe even Micheal Essien before injuries marred his career, who have been worth every penny. But we've also had Fernando Torres, Andriy Shevchenko, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jose Bosingwa who haven't lived up to their enormous price tags.
Over the past decade Chelsea fans have been able to boast about winning almost every piece of silverware there is to offer, of having some of the biggest names in the footballing world.
But fact still remains we can never talk about financial profits, grooming young talent or having home grown legends quite the way Barcelona, United or even Arsenal can. John Terry is the only player who has graduated from the youth academy and has been able to consistently claim a first team spot.
And so began the second term of Jose Mourinho. But this time it feels different.
There is a kind of calm and composure unheard of in association with Mourinho. He doesn't seem like the go buy-it-all manager he's largely known to be.
"This time I arrive, and victories and silverware are nothing new. In this moment it's time for a completely different approach. Not losing my nature, which is the nature of the club too, trying to win. I think we are all prepared for a different era with a different profile of team."
With this Mourinho identified the direction the club was heading in. No more £100 million plus transfer windows, no more being drawn into bidding wars and most importantly grooming the exciting talent Chelsea have in abundance. A new era of exciting young talent, an era of financial fair play.
In the past Chelsea have been wasteful with many of their youngsters, Nemanja Matić makes a fine example. He was sold to Benfica in a makeweight deal for David Luiz, having been identified as not being a prospect for the future. He has now developed into one of the most promising talents, and is rumored to return to Chelsea in a deal worth excess of £30 million. Rumor true or not the fact remains, that Chelsea lost out on a great talent due to bad management.
With Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Tomas Kalas included in the pre-season squad this trend will hopefully change and the most is made out of the Chelsea youth.
Reflecting on the last season Chelsea do need a few reinforcements. The first addition I'd like to see is that of a quality striker. Even as a Chelsea fan I've resigned on Torres ever coming back to the form he showed in his glory years, Lukaku is perhaps still a little raw to be depended on week in week out and Ba remains an emergency backup signing.
With Monaco making the swoop for Falcao, and Cavani on his way to join the French Revolution in Paris, Chelsea have to look elsewhere for their attacking spearhead.
Robert Lewandowski had emerged as an option but he seems determined on switching to rivals in Munich.
Wayne Rooney in a Blue jersey is an option all Blues fans would be smacking their lips about. But with Moyes intent on playing hardball, Mourinho shouldn’t break the bank over a player who hasn’t been at his best recently. That only leaves options like Burak Yilmaz, Benteke, Stevan Jovetic on a very limited list.
Another area, where Chelsea need backup is defensive midfield. Obi Mikel though great defensively gives the ball away too often, is poor going forward and should be on his way to Galatasaray. Although, Benitez did experiment with Oscar in a deeper role, I doubt Mourinho would consider it given the Brazilian's diminutive frame. Chelsea need someone to provide backup to Ramires and Lampard.
Here comes in Marco van Ginkel, the exciting young Dutch prospect considered to be the future Lampard can be prove to be a bargain at around £7 million. But, he seems more like a future plan rather than an immediate replacement.
With creative ball players like Mata, Hazard and Oscar in the attacking midfield we need someone in a deeper role who can not only make the tackle when required but also keep the ball and pass it. This is where Daniel De Rossi seems like a perfect fit. The Italian is not only strong, and a good tackler but can control the game in a way that Ramires or Mikel, will never do. Nathan Ake who was impressive in his full debut against Middlesborough can also prove to be a useful option.
Chelsea have made a rare sensible choice by going for the cheap and signing free agent Mark Schwarzer, rather than trying to price out John Ruddy from Norwich. Schwarzer is a hugely experienced keeper and will provide sufficient back-up along with the 19 year old Blackman, till Courtois returns to take over the reins from Cech.
In the defensive department, Chelsea seem fine on the surface but you dig a little deeper and cracks begin to appear. In central defence, there appear to be four options in Luiz, Ivanovic, Cahill and Terry. But Terry is 32, and with him not being first choice under Benitez it is still to be seen if he can merit a first team spot. Luiz is not the most defensively solid at the back, and if Mourinho decides to cash in on him to Barca or PSG then Chelsea will need to sign a defender or two.
On the flanks, Azpilicueta did a fine job towards the end of last season. Ivanovic can provide some support there too. At left back - Ashely Cole, although he hasn't shown any signs of ageing is 32, and the only cover available is Ryan Bertrand who is inconsistent at best.
One area where Chelsea have more than an abundance of talent - attacking midfield. Surprisingly, Mourinho has added to this already jam packed midfield with the purchase of André Schürrle. Costing around £17 million he certainly can't be called cheap. But a German international and as Mourinho describes him: “a player who is absolutely ready and he gives us more than one position in attack" could be a value addition. Moses doesn't seem to have made the mark with Mourinho and rightly so, looks set to rejoin Roberto Martinez at Everton.
With Schürrle firmly in his plans, Mourinho looks like he will play an attacking 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. With Hazard and Schürrle on the flanks and Mata just behind the striker, Oscar and De Bruyne used in rotation whenever needed. With a quality striker Chelsea could give the best defenses a headache.
Chelsea seem to be a shaping up to be a great squad with not only a quality first eleven, but also a strong bench.
Let's hope the "special one" can deliver, and bring home the Premier League again.
Whatever may be the result, the air around Stamford Bridge is full of excitement, a new era of Mourinho, a new era of Chelsea football is here.
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