Jose Mourinho is sitting in a fairly comfortable position. OK, it could be better, but at the same time Chelsea are currently two points off first place Arsenal and have plenty of scope to improve. Mourinho hasn’t promised the Premier League title, despite being one of the favourites, nor has he totally dismissed it. The opportunity is there, but he’ll have an excuse to fall back on if he fails to deliver. One way or another, January simply isn’t the time to be spending heavily when there is so much potential in the current squad.
Mourinho has taken over a Chelsea team who are still in transition – yes, still – and yet who are capable nonetheless of mounting a serious title charge during the second half of the season. But let’s not forget that a new Chelsea, whereby the burden of responsibility has shifted from the Old Guard to the new forwards in the team, still have to collectively develop a winning mentality that sees them through in the league.
It’s been a long time since Chelsea were serious contenders for the Premier League title. Carlo Ancelotti’s first season was the last time they won the league, and even then the team was dominated by leading figures of the past decade. Names like Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole can supplement the key players in the current team, but they’re not being leaned on for title-winning performances. Even Petr Cech’s future is up for debate because of the form and value of Thibaut Courtois at Atletico Madrid.
So what if Chelsea spend heavily on a striker in January and still fail to win the title? Are they a world-class centre-forward short from winning the league? No. Chelsea’s problems lie in the defence; they have no problem putting the ball in the opposition net, where a host of midfield talents can make up for the oft-misfiring strike department. But the introduction of a player of the calibre of Radamel Falcao, as an example, will give Mourinho little in the way of a safety net, despite other areas of the team that need addressing.
And that’s not to say Chelsea are short of personnel. Even if David Luiz isn’t favoured, Branislav Ivanovic can move back into the centre of defence when ether John Terry or Gary Cahill aren’t available. And that’s a worst-case scenario. The midfield also needs to do more to protect the defence, but you wouldn’t put that down to an issue that can’t be ironed out with what Mourinho has at his disposal.
The point is there isn’t a whole lot wrong with the current Chelsea team. The problems that do exist can be rectified simply by coaching. And let’s not make the mistake of assuming Mourinho has somehow lost his ability to properly manage a high-profile club. He’s still one of the best at drilling a team into defending a lead. One-nil and even two-nil leads can be dangerous positions to be in. Under Mourinho, you wouldn’t normally fear for the safety of all three points.
It’s also not to say that Chelsea don’t need another centre-forward. Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o don’t have long-term futures at Stamford Bridge, and even Fernando Torres may be best served moving on after this season if he really can’t find his rhythm of a consistent basis. But those are issues that can be addressed in the summer. Chelsea are not presently in an emergency situation where they need to enter the market. Mourinho has more than enough tools to get the best out of this squad. It also helps, from Chelsea’s perspective, that Mourinho is the man entrusted to oversee this change.