‘At Chelsea, if we didn't think we could win the league, or didn't think we had the quality to do it, we wouldn't be here working so hard. We respect our opponents and their ambitions, because they have the same ambitions as us, but we want to win the Premier League and we are ready for that’. These are the words the Special One said from Chelsea’s camping base in Austria in their pre-season tour of Europe. These words might not be new to most Blues fans as the gaffer had assured them of silverware come the next season i.e. this season 2014/2015. The team last season was described as ‘little horses’ because of various reasons; some of the players were playing in the league for the first time, a number of players were adapting to the new manger’s training methods and playing in new tactical systems, some players were playing in new roles and most importantly the players were playing with a different mentality. In summary, they were in the transitional period.
Although silverware is a major obsession for most football fans (ermmm…especially not Arsenal fans), most Pensioners were not overly disappointed with the team - third placed in the league, semi finalists in the UEFA Champions League and Eden Hazard winning PFA Young Player of the year. The one thing that is anticipated is for the team to step it up and make their efforts translate into titles. The ‘group’ was thus expected to be beefed up and reshuffled next season for this objective. As some players were expected to return from loans, others were not resigning with the club after their contracts had expired and still, some were definitely going to be sold to other clubs. New talents who had excelled in the academy were also expected to be given the chance to train with the first team and if possible, handed some games!
Club legend and True Blues’ man Frank James Lampard brought his 13-year love-affair with the London club to an end and fans’ favourite Ashley Cole followed suit. These two players did not only enjoy long stays with the club but were huge parts of the success of the club and fans will always remember and acknowledge that. It really sounded emotional when Captain John Terry, at the start of pre-season, lamented on how badly he will miss these two great guys in the dressing room. That says a lot about the camaraderie that existed and still exists between. Demba Ba, as humble as he is, has also moved on quietly and it looks like his brother (as he calls him), Hazard, will miss him a lot. Some other players are still expected to leave the club in the coming weeks and most fans are divided on that- Moses, Marin, et al.
Cesc Fabregas has been brought in to augment the midfield options and his experience, vision and knowledge of the game is never in doubt. His addition opens the team to a range of tactical systems and he being a former Gooner makes some of the fans even happier! Banter counts a lot in football to fans, most especially in London! Filipe Luis Kasmirski slots easily into the left back position and his exploits with Atletico last season as impressive as it was will be very much liked to be replicated in a Blue shirt. He is very energetic even at his age (29 years) and he admitted in his recent interview ‘I never stop running in a game’. That is one big asset and fans can expect another Ashley at the Bridge! This shoves Ceasar ‘Dave’ Azpilicueta back to his natural right back position and gives solid lateral lines to the defence, in effect creating a healthy competition with Ivanovic who played as the regular right back last season. Kurt Zouma, back from loan, will also prove an able deputy when one of JT or Gary ‘Gaz’ Cahill is unavailable. His height and imposing figure is very much an attribute of a centre back that can succeed in the Premier League. Nathan Ake, a huge talent with the Academy could be called to step in at some point in the season. His versatility means he can play in almost all the positions at the defence as well as in front of the defence which is a major plus for him. Marco van Ginkel who looked promising last season has returned from a serious injury and looks set to prove his worth to the squad and same can be said for the returnee, Oriol Romeu, who has been rewarded with a new 3- year contract. One addition that elicits smiles and giggles from fans is Diego da Silva Costa! A proven, efficient and a prolific striker was a major headache for José last season and it was evident that he would buy one in the summer. Yes he did and suffice it to say that this striker is the one the fans have all been waiting for! A direct, powerful and a bully of a striker is the type of striker that really functions well in José’s tactical systems and Costa fits in perfectly. Having had a poor world cup showing with Spain in his country of birth, Brazil, Costa is expected to fire the Blues forward in all competitions, under the guidance of José Mourinho. Regular supply of balls should not be a problem with the tenacity and dexterity of a very fluid midfield and exciting forward line in Matic, Fabregas, Oscar, Salah, Hazard, Schurrle and Willian. The Spanish boy from Brazil is certainly bound to succeed! Romelu Lukaku is also expected to return to the squad having hard two successful loan spells and would be a good deputy, if he works hard and shows a good attitude. Fernando Torres has been around for the past three seasons and IF he stays, should be a good squad member.
Thibaut Courtois returns as the most improved loanee in the squad and is expected to be the new number 1 in the goal post. However, Petr Cech is certainly going to compete and ‘fight’ for that position too as will Mark Schwarzer. The objective of bringing in new players is not just to phase out the old ones (whether young or aged) but to create a formidable team to achieve a common goal (of winning laurels) and that is exactly what José is doing. The old and the new must be guided to work!
The transfer period is still open but José has indicated he is done with purchases which could also mean purchases will only be made if players are sold. Whatever happens next, every Chelsea fan will be happy with the squad now and confidence of major silverware in the 2014/2015 season remains very high!