There seems to be certain agreement that Chelsea are a world class striker away from achieving a level of accomplishment that will bring them an avalanche of trophies, immortality, and a Medal of Yavin (the one Luke Skywalker and Han Solo get in the first Star Wars film).
Since Jose Mourinho’s return to London, optimism has been so high at Stamford Bridge that the usually so demanding and impatient Blues fans are opting to look beyond every result, and accept that their team is in transition – something they never did when AVB or Rafa was at the helm.
The suggestion that Chelsea might complete their team with a quality January signing is far from ludicrous – they have a squad that is absolutely full of talent – but is it really so simple that Mourinho’s only issue at the moment is Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba’s sterile performances in front of goal?
I believe there are several issues that need attention at Chelsea, and although the gossip columns claim that they have a fair chance of signing Radamel Falcao in January, I just don’t think this would prompt every jigsaw piece to magically fall into place for Jose. There is little doubt that Falcao is a striker of immense quality, capable of scoring dozens of goals a season, but the problem Chelsea have had so far goes deeper than merely an inability to find the back of the net.
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They escaped an embarrassing loss to West Brom with some help from Mr Andre Marriner, who gave a penalty softer than Roman Abramovich’s stance against interior change. Not only did the Baggies snatch a surprising point in London, they thoroughly deserved it, too. The quality to get the ball in the back of the net might have been the most obvious in the final minutes of the game, but the previous 90 had drawn a picture of a Chelsea side struggling for team cohesion. The game suggested they are far from playing the way Mourinho want them to.
Yes, of course they are in transition, but I’m not sure I buy the argument that structural changes in management is the entire reason. Very few changes have been made to the squad that Mourinho inherited from Rafa Benitez, and though the two gaffers differ on a few key philosophical points, they both emphasise defensive stability. Chelsea’s starting point of reference this season, as it was last season, is a defence that at all times should be balanced and composed. Yet, they have already conceded 10 goals.
The personnel is borderline identical too, with Andre Schurrle, Willian and Eto’o the only major arrivals. The difference is more down to Mourinho’s apparent dislike towards some of last season’s stand-out players for the Blues. Juan Mata, player of the year two years running, and David Luiz, are barely seeing time on the pitch. I, along with many others, have questioned why Jose is treating two of his biggest stars so brutally. Being Mourinho, he gets the benefit of people simply excusing it as a man management technique. Therefore I will now stick my neck out, drawing a bullseye for abuse on my chest in the process. Here goes:
Perhaps Jose Mourinho isn’t the unbeatable football oracle we believe him to be.
Despite his record, there is evidence available suggesting that he has certain limits as a manager. Although he won La Liga in his second year as Real Madrid coach, he never managed to overtake Barcelona in reputation, as the Catalans were considered superior to Jose’s Real for his entire tenure in Madrid. And this is despite a more than generous transfer budget. Furthermore, last season’s trophy-less ending is surely considered a failure for the manager that should put Los Blancos back at the top of Spanish football again.
Since his sensational, and quite lucky, Champions League win with Porto in 2004, the Portuguese slick talker has conquered most of the obstacles laid before him. His first stay at Chelsea brought five trophies in three seasons, but since his fall out with Abramovich, Jose hasn’t stayed with any club for a sustained amount of time. He has had similar fall outs wherever he’s gone.
Like the legendary Bela Guttmann – who won everything wherever he went from the 50s through to the 70s – Jose only stays for a short period of time before he takes off, reputation thoroughly intact. Maybe the board and squad simply find Jose to eventually be too much.
The evidence is there to suggest it. The Special One has a job to do at Chelsea, and the Stamford Bridge crowd might just be a bit naive if they think that results will come automatically.
Radamel Falcao will not make Chelsea world beaters the way the press is portraying it at the moment. At least not single-handedly.
Will Jose succeed in his second tenure at Chelsea?
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