Monday, 17 June 2013

Why The Happy One's second coming will be good for Chelsea

Quick to remind you! It was 6 trophies last time
They say "never go back" in life - and especially in football. But it's a maxim far from Jose Mourinho's thinking as he embarks on a new four-year contract at Stamford Bridge.

And Kevin Hatchard has four reasons why Mourinho's return will be successful like before.

1 – Mourinho is one of the most successful managers of his generation. Mourinho’s critics are enjoying beating him with a Real Madrid-branded stick, but it says a lot for his glittering CV that his time in the Spanish capital is being derided by many as a failure. In the shape of Leo Messi-inspired Barcelona, he was up against arguably one of the greatest teams of all time. Despite this calibre of opposition he won the La Liga title (setting a points record of 100 in the process) and the Copa del Rey (Real’s first success in the competition for nearly two decades). 
Mourinho, Moyes & Pellegrini: the new men at the top

Much has been made of Real’s failure to win the Champions League under Mourinho, but Los Merengues reached the semi-finals in each of his three seasons. In the six seasons that preceded Mourinho’s tenure, Real failed to progress beyond the last 16.

Mourinho’s La Liga title win means he has now won domestic championships in four different leagues, and three of those competitions (Serie A, Premier League, La Liga) are widely regarded as elite. The last time Mourinho failed to deliver at least one league title during a spell at a club was when he was at Uniao de Leiria, and in fairness I don’t think even the most ardent Leiria fan expects to be cheering their boys to title glory any time soon.

Sir Alex Ferguson has quite rightly been lauded for his magnificent, trophy-laden career, but it’s worth considering that Mourinho has delivered the same number of Champions League/European Cup wins in 13 years as Fergie did in more than double that time. To further enhance that achievement, Mourinho has reached the pinnacle of European football with two different clubs, and in the space of two seasons he won both the UEFA Cup and the Champions League with Porto.

Three European trophies, seven league titles and six domestic cups – Mourinho’s a winner, it’s as simple as that.

2 – Chelsea have one of the strongest squads in Europe, and the resources to make it stronger. Mourinho will inherit an outstanding squad that has won major European trophies in each of the past two seasons, and the £18million capture of German international forward Andre Schurrle shows that Blues owner Roman
Twice a Premier League champion, 2004 to 2007
 is willing to invest in the squad further.

Petr Cech remains one of the most reliable keepers in the Premier League, while promising Belgian stopper Thibault Courtois is set to accrue a third consecutive season of experience whilst on loan at Atletico Madrid. As a unit Chelsea’s defence was far from convincing last season, but the individual players are talented. Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta are both excellent attacking full-backs, while Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic are solid defenders, although perhaps not a solid partnership.

Perhaps Mourinho’s biggest conundrum lies in central midfield. Frank Lampard earned a new contract with a magnificent, record-breaking season. He may be a first-team regular – not because he’s a trusted lieutenant of Mourinho, but because he smashed in 15 Premier League goals last season. David Luiz put in some stirring, all-action displays at the heart of Chelsea’s midfield last term – he broke up play, started attacks and scored some spectacular goals. Luiz is a far better proposition in midfield than he is at centre-back, where his lapses of concentration can be more easily punished. That said, reports suggest Mourinho is not a fan of the extravagantly coiffeured Brazilian, and he may be a high-profile departure.

If Mourinho adopts a 4-2-3-1 formation, he is spoilt for choice in the attacking midfield department. When Mourinho holds the morning assembly, they’ll be the group with their hands up most insistently, desperately trying to catch the teacher’s attention. If Mourinho sticks with what he’s got, Juan Mata (12 PL goals and 12 assists last season), Oscar (4 PL goals, 5 assists), Eden Hazard (9 PL goals, 11 assists) and Ramires (5 PL goals) are all in the mix, with Schurrle, Victor Moses and the returning Kevin De Bruyne all keen to make their mark. Mourinho says young Belgian international De Bruyne is ready to play for Chelsea, and after an outstanding loan spell at Werder Bremen (9 Bundesliga goals, 10 assists), it’s hard to disagree.

On the subject of Belgians who’ve had excellent seasons out on loan (what a link - this stuff isn’t just thrown together, you know), Romelu Lukaku’s in contention for a striking spot after excelling at West Brom. The former Anderlecht man showcased his impressive mix of pace, power and composure, scoring 17 Premier League goals. At Chelsea (Didier Drogba) and Inter (Diego Milito) Mourinho used powerful target-men, and I see no reason why Lukaku can’t fill that role. With Fernando Torres and Demba Ba also in contention, and a big-money signing a near-certainty, Chelsea won’t be short of firepower.

3 – The fans are on board from the start. When Rafa Benitez was appointed as Chelsea boss midway through last season, sales of plain paper and marker pens went through the roof in the West London area. Benitez was greeted by a barrage of crudely penned banners and signs, displaying displeasure at his arrival. Despite such needless vitriol, Benitez went on to secure a top-four finish and a major European trophy, but the poisonous atmosphere at some home games hardly helped the team’s performances. Many of Chelsea’s best displays under Benitez came away from Stamford Bridge, and he won just one of his first five PL home games. Conversely, Mourinho will be accorded messianic status at Stamford Bridge, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Chelsea’s home record significantly improve.

4 – Mourinho has a proven track record in English football. In his first two seasons in England, Mourinho won two Premier League titles, racking up a club-record 29 top-flight wins in each campaign. In that first season Chelsea broke the Premier League points record, collecting a gigantic 95. In his three full seasons in England, Mourinho also won two League Cups and an FA Cup.

To conclude, Mourinho says he’s willing to see out his four-year contract at Stamford Bridge, and is even happy to stay beyond that. His career path to date suggests he won’t necessarily stay in West London for that long, regardless of his level of success. He might not be there for a long time, but it seems to me that Chelsea fans are in for a good time.

Do you agree with Kevin? Drop us a comment now.

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