Chelsea & Jose Mourinho: Managing Expectations

Ok, so the special one is back but now he wants to be known as ‘The Happy One’. Actually he is still the special one, but it is we who are the happy ones!

Jose-Mourinho-gestures-as-he-arrives-at-Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi-Airport

Mou remains as cool as ever

But the million-dollar question is what to expect from Mourinho’s Chelsea this season?
Its a major question and the most important one. After all, it has
seen off many coaches at Chelsea.

Mourinho initially played down the expectations.
He commented, “The best of this [Chelsea] team is going to come in 4-5 years
time.” Although at the time of unveiling he did state that he plays to
win.

So let’s imagine the worst case scenario in terms of results i.e. 0
trophies. Will Mourinho get the sack in such a event? I don’t think Roman Abramovich will make the same mistake of letting Jose leave too soon twice.

The more important question is would Jose Mourinho be under pressure
of getting atleast 1 trophy?
I don’t think so that is expected of him as Mou himself said in second ‘First’ press conference for Chelsea that, “If I show that team are progressing, then it means that we are doing a good job”.

So what should the fans expect of Chelsea this season?
The right answer is that they should expect what must be expected of a squad of similar strength as Chelsea.

Remember we are talking about a squad which at its arguably worst looking season in last 8 years turned around the season by winning Champions League & FA cup double. So naturally the fans go around expecting much. But I, obviously a fan, will try to remain as objective as possible here.

So that takes me to the matter in hand, how good is the Chelsea squad at the moment?

  • First off, let’s consider the spirit in the squad.
    Of all the preseasons I have got to see so far, the squad seems to be in the best spirit this season. They seem to feel that they have survived 2 seasons of turmoil (and came away with 2 European trophies), that the dark gloomy days are behind them and from here on there will be sunny summer days to greet them.
  • The restructuring of Chelsea squad is in its last year and is nearing completion. There is a tremendous competition for places in the squad at the moment, depth in quality, which was missing the last season.

So lets assess the strength of squad in each front-

GK:

Cech-scwarzer-trainingSolid as ever. Slightly better that previous seasons as we have a better backup now in Mark Schwarzzer.

Defense:

Luiz-terry-cole

LB:
Ashley Cole is solid, Bertrand is improving and can hold his own against a top opposition in case Cole isn’t available.

RB:
Mou has stated that Iva will be a RB primarily. Azpi is a decent backup at RB for this position. Although many fans think that he was tremendous last season, I still think he lacks experience and Iva is better defensively as well as on par in attacking sense.

CB:
DL is world class and is almost a guaranteed starter.
JT, Gary Cahill & Tomas Kalas will fight for the other spot. There will be rotation for this spot.
Ivanovich can fill in emergencies.

Unlike many fans I was of the opinion that we don’t need to buy a CB
Having a WC defender like Luiz serves us well and what we need him is
to partner him alongside a less adventurous CB like JT, Iva, Cahill. Besides, if you look at great squads of the past, there is always a great CB along with a good CB. Affording 2 world class CBs is a luxury and not a need.

Overall the defense looks pretty solid with 8 players for 4 positions.

DM (aka Pivot):

lampard mikel ramires
This was the most problematic area for Chelsea last season but Mou already has made long strides in this department.

Ramires,MVG,Mikel,Lampard,Essien will all vie for the 2 spots.

Rami is a player Mou likes and I think he will clock the most minutes this season out of these 5.
Lamps is also a favorite of Mou but keeping in mind his age, he will & should be rotated.
Essien has had a very good preseason. He looks like a tank. He might be Chelsea’s best option against very physical opposition especially against that beast named Yaya Toure.
MVG has shown promise in preseason but will get judged fairly only in PL.

Would Kdb, Oscar be experimented here by Mou? Only time will tell!
I have omitted Josh, Chalo, Ake for now since if they don’t get sent on
loan they will only play in less important matches to continue their
development.

This is the position that can cost Chelsea the PL title.

Attacking Midfield:

Mazacar agaist FC Nordsjaelland
It might seem to be the area Chelsea are strongest in. But again lets not get carried away.

Oscar & Hazard are big names but they are 21 & 22 and lack experience and consistency. They need to score more goals. They need to create more.

Mata is yet to reach his peak maybe, but he is the orchestrator of every Chelsea attack and without him the team looked lost 90% of the time last season. Mou has already fixed this somewhat but it is still him who makes Chelsea tick!

Schurrle is yet to impress this season. Honestly speaking, he has been the worst of the six we boast in this season.
KdB has been very impressive so far. He is a natural finisher and has excellent work-rate. I expect him to star for Chelsea this season.
Moses has improved throughout the preseason.

Strikers:

Torres & Lukaku
As Chelsea has shown last season, they are not dependent on the striker for their goals. Infact our system doesn’t seem to be a striker oriented system.

Lukaku seems to be an exciting talent and Torres showed good form towards end of the season scoring great goals in Europa league final and against Everton.
Demba Ba is there to provide the depth needed but he might fall below Lukaku in the pecking order if his poor preseason form continues.

I don’t expect Lukaku to feature a lot in the first half of the season
except as an impact substitute or League cup fixtures. He will have to earn his place in the squad.

So considering we don’t buy another striker like Rooney (I am not a big fan of him though)
here are the LEAST expectations we should have of Mou-

PL – 2nd place losing out to the first position towards the very end. (possibly to City)

CL: Qualification for last 16 is a given. Chelsea should top the group easily. So for the last 16 fixtures, we should be favorites. From there, it depends on who we face. So atleast QF will be minimum expectation, at best we might reach Semis.

FA cup – Knocked by City or else Winners

League cup – depends on the approach of Mou which player he plays
but Pellegrini won’t be playing his strongest X1 in LC which leaves Spurs
& so it really depends on Mou.