Chelsea were already a strong team when Mourinho came back, just not dominant anymore like they used to be under the Special One. Mourinho had imparted pragmatism, hard work and discipline back to back English Champions of the 2004 era. This time, the story has been different.
Looking at the numbers one realizes that an evolution has taken place, which is all set to continue into the coming season.
This summer has been quiet and still in terms of how Chelsea used to dictate the tempo off the field in the summers gone-by. There is still the possibility of the club moving ahead with some remarkable signings in the next month that remains of the transfer window.
However, Mourinho has been hard to impress upon anyone who is listening or not listening for that matter that he is more than happy with the current squad and expects it to evolve as a close bunch in the comfort of familiarity and stability. The lull could be swept away still with big signings, yet it marks a contrast to only the last season when every thing was fast tracked and well within time.
There could be a number of reasons to this approach or circumstance. However, the smart money says Mourinho might be telling the truth for a change. Let’s have a look at the numbers that back his approach, if indeed this is what he is trying to do.
The Bigger Picture:
Looking at things in a broad perspective, we witness two things. These are no mysteries, and were on show last season to anyone who was acquainted with the first alphabets of football. The approach had changed drastically. From being a firm, arrogantly strong to break defence, Chelsea were fluid.
From being pragmatic and result oriented, the attack and the team in general played a much more aesthetically pleasing football that even Wenger should have appreciated. But we know he can be an old-wet cat at times so he didn’t.
This was the result of a number of many things, starting with the departure of club legend Frank Lampard. It does not imply that his move to City was beneficial in any way, and his loss was sad to say the least. Nonetheless, it paved the way for Mourinho to establish the roots of a new philosophy at Chelsea.
Fabregas, a Wenger archetype, arrived at the Bridge from Barcelona itself. The result was there for all to see. Matic’s imposing performance alongside the Spaniard only helped make the change more significant and apparent.
Players who were once regulars or at least rotated frequently like Ramires and more importantly, John Mikel Obi were relegated to the back-up spots. The transition was as effective as it was smooth and Chelsea reaped it’s rewards for most of the season, more so in the first half. Mourinho had effectively transformed the team into a multi-edged blade that cut through opponents in any way it pleased.
In short, the emphasis on defence was not lessened, but that on industry, fluidity and attacking was increased. The outcome is for all to see as Chelsea switched from one way of playing to the other effortlessly. In a recent interview, Mourinho has also insisted that he may deploy two strikers more regularly with the quality options available to him now. Mourinho has evolved from his first spell at the Bridge and Chelsea are testimony to that. It would be fascinating to see the next step of this evolution.
Having already discussed the midfield revival which saw the sideways passing of Mikel replaced with Fabregas’ vision which knows no limits. The other key part was the front man, the striker. In his first season he had the
ill famed trio of Torres, Eto’o and Demba Ba.
Torres worked his heart out for the team, but he was Torres no more by then. Nothing more should be said of El Nino. Eto’o was an old man in Mourinho’s own words, biding his golden days while they still lasted before launching himself on a catapult to
Everton, Italy: his home Turkey.
Demba Ba took a straight path to reside in Turkey at Fenerbahce, but changed his mind and went for the catapult himself, and it landed him in China of all places. Money talks they say. That’s all a man ought to say for the strike force Mourinho part inherited-part created in his first season with the little horses.
Come his second summer and Mourinho made it clear that it was going to be Blue or bust. Blue it was to be and in came Diego Costa. So did Loic Remy from QPR and not Newcastle. Didier Drogba came back to play a more important part than many had expected of the ageing veteran. In most games, one of the trio were on the scoresheet. When they were not, his magnificence Eden Hazard obliged. In games when any of the above failed to get on the scoresheet, the defenders did.
It was not a perfect party, but was more than merry enough. The master brewer has his recipe in place, time and situations are still in his grasp, and he is well on track to brew some of the best aged wine Chelsea fans have tasted in years. The raw materials this time are not being imported, just being aged to perfection in-house.
Winning the League may or may not happen this season, but if a legacy is to be created, one can see the signs of it. The end of season will tell for sure whether Mourinho is in for the long run this time. More on the concept in our next article of the series.
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Edited By: Harshal Ahire
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