Can Jose Mourinho be accused of only thinking about the short term, as if it’s a negative trait of the Chelsea manager? Not really. There are those who will compare him to managers with interests stretching far beyond a single season. But with the nature of the modern game, where any manager, no matter their winning record, is vulnerable, it only makes sense that coaches explore the best means to be winners now, rather than ensuring stability well into the future.
And at his last two clubs, Jose Mourinho assembled (or helped to assemble) two squads with the capability of seeing out an entire season and emerging as victors.
Ahead of his second season at Inter Milan, Mourinho oversaw the signings of Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito, Lucio, and Samuel Eto’o; the latter arriving as part of the deal that saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic head to Barcelona.
It proved to be a squad equipped with all the tools to handle the demands of three competitions, as Inter landed a fifth consecutive Serie A title and also added the Champions League and Coppa Italia. Lucio partnered Walter Samuel and become arguably Europe’s best centre-back pairing of that season, while a forward line featuring Eto’o and Milito proved devastating in domestic and international play, with the latter scoring a brace in the European Cup final against Bayern Munich.
This summer at Chelsea, Mourinho has added similarly strong pieces. Incomings have included Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, who will both address the shortage of goals up front and, at least on paper, those who have come to begrudge Mourinho’s lack of attacking interest.
Fabregas is well-accustomed to the Premier League, having spent eight years at Arsenal, and should have no problem re-adjusting after his three-year spell at Barcelona. As for Costa, few other strikers around Europe drew as much attention as the former Atletico Madrid forward last season, who helped fire his side to the La Liga title and the Champions League final. His battering ram style is very much seen as the perfect complement to Mourinho’s system at Stamford Bridge.
With Filipe Luis, Kurt Zouma and Didier Drogba rounding out the new arrivals, and Thibaut Courtois returning from his three years spent at Atletico on loan, there is quality in abundance at Chelsea, and Mourinho’s persistent comments last season about his little horse and the inability to compete has been quickly addressed this summer.
But the club have also completed some of their best business with regards to sales this summer.
Somehow, Paris Saint-Germain were convinced to part with £50 million for David Luiz, and Chelsea allowed Everton to turn Romelu Lukaku’s loan spell into a permanent move for £28 million. The club are competitive – without question the squad is stronger now than it was this time last year – and they’re complying with Financial Fair Play. Chelsea have done exceptionally well to not allow themselves to be hamstrung in the way PSG have been this summer.
Whether this is the perfect window for Jose Mourinho remains to be seen. Chelsea have a history of signing big-money centre-forward flops, and nothing has been done yet to prove Costa isn’t set to be another, at least for those with a superstitious disposition.
But on paper, Mourinho has left nothing to chance. There is a strong blend of youth and excitement with Premier League and title-winning experience. The team is fresh, the new arrivals will be hungry, and those already in the squad will have been kicked up a gear to ensure their places in the team are not in doubt.
They’ve been swift, calculated and cunning. If we assume all will go to plan, this has very much been a period of transfer business geared towards winning the league title this season.