Chelsea Season Preview: Life with Mourinho
Jose Mourinho's understated return to English football has been uncharacteristic to say the least, but just as we thought the self dubbed 'Happy One' had actually changed his spots, the Mourinho that we all know (and for some reason seem to love) is finally beginning to shine through.
With his time in the Spanish Capital now fully behind him, it is easy to see why Mourinho, the 'special one' has so much to be pleased about. Jose has walked into a team that in the past two seasons has won the Champions League, an FA cup and the Europa League whilst quietly building one of the youngest and most talented squads in European football. Luckily for Mourinho, many of the old guard from his first tenure are still very much part of the side and retain an all-important influence over the team. John Terry remains captain, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole earnt one-year contract extensions, Michael Essien returned from a season long loan in Madrid and Peter Cech has seemingly retained the number 1 jersey from the young Belgian Thibaut Courtouis for yet another season. Having the immediate backing of players of this stature is a massive boost for Mourinho, and will make his transition seem all the more smooth. It is no secret that these players will not be around forever, but in his first season in charge they will provide the perfect platform to make it seem as if he has never been away. I wouldn't be surprised that come the 2014/2015 season, only John Terry and Peter Cech remain from that illustrious group albeit it with a minor supporting roles from the bench.
It is extremely early to make predictions regarding the Premier League standings with the transfer window in full flow, but I believe Chelsea will be Champions this season. The fact of the matter is, that the return of Mourinho almost guarantees trophies. In every season since taking the reigns at Porto, Mourinho has managed at least one, if not more. Throughout this season I believe that we will see the emergence of new young and exciting prospects such as Marko Van Ginkel and Tomáš Kalas as well as the returning Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne. With the additions of these players into a team that already contains the likes of Luiz, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, and the newly arriving Andrea Shurrle, Jose Mourinho will take charge of the team to fear in the Barclays Premier League this season. Mourinho has inherited a side that has the potential to compete on every stage, whilst giving opportunities to the youth and veteran players within the team. Mourinho may even have a squad capable of the clubs third European trophy in as many years. The Champions League has so far eluded Mourinho at Chelsea, and he will no doubt be looking to make history as the first manager to win the trophy with three separate clubs.
Recently, Jose has mentioned the lack of need to strengthen, but as a master of mind games this ploy is surely to attain the backing of a squad that is new to him. With the emergence of new youth players and those returning from loan, arguably the only area that needs improvement is Chelsea's strike force. Romelu Lukaku has earned his chance after a stellar season at West Brom, but Fernando Torres has never quite recaptured the form of his Liverpool days and Demba Ba lacks star quality. Mourinho’s courtship of Wayne Rooney has been no secret with two public bids already, although seemingly Manchester United are unwilling to sell. Of late, Rooney's quality has been questioned and David Moyes all but confirmed the fact that he will play second fiddle to Robin Van Persie should he stay at the club. Were he to move, imagine a fully fit and focused Rooney with a point to prove to his old employers in a World Cup year. Add to that the supply from Oscar, Mata and Hazard among others and you have a potent combination. In my view, should united sell Rooney to Chelsea; they might as well hand over the Barclays Premier League Trophy as well.
Mourinho’s return could not have come at a better time in a period of upheaval in the English top flight. Although sad to see Sir Alex Ferguson leave, Mourinho will without doubt be excited at the prospect of taking on his replacement in David Moyes. Moyes has experienced a difficult start to his Old Trafford career. A series of mixed results in pre season and a transfer window in which united have been unable to attract a stellar signing, is slowly building concern within the ranks of United fans. Conversely, Manchester City have gone about their business both efficiently and quietly. However, a new manager without a major trophy to his name, numerous new signings and a adaptation to a free flowing attacking style will take time. Mourinho will look to capitalize on such problems and create a gap after hitting the ground running. Although unlikely to mount a serious title challenge, there are other teams that could pose a threat to Chelsea this season. However, Arsenal are yet to improve their squad, Tottenham may face a season without Gareth Bale and Liverpool are still in a rebuilding phase whilst having to deal with the Suarez saga.
Mourinho goes into the 2013/2014 season with what seems like the full backing of his chairman and the fans as well as the strongest squad in the division in my opinion. In a season of change at the top of the Barclays Premier League, it is almost as if Mourinho has never been away. Pellegrini will take time to adapt to Manchester City and David Moyes already seems to be feeling the pressure of filling Sir Alex Ferguson's very large shoes. With the current crop, and Mourinho at the helm, it is extremely possible that Chelsea FC could go on to become dominant in England for years to come. It's no wonder that the self-proclaimed 'happy one' has so much to be pleased about.
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