Never go back, they say. So, what’s in store for Mourinho’s Blues 2.0?
Jose and the second coming. What do we make of that? In the end it seems a natural fit, what with the timing of Mourinho’s departure from Real Madrid and the sentimental attachment between the Portuguese and Chelsea. “It’s the first time I’ve arrived at a club where I already love the club,” he said in his return press conference. “I want to be respected for what I did in the past, of course, but I want to be loved for what I can do in the future, and the fans can know that I come here to do my best.”
His best pretty much guarantees trophies, doesn’t it? Sadly, yes. Since 2002, he’s bagged three Champions Leagues, one UEFA Cup, seven league titles and four domestic cups. And given Chelsea have had only one trophyless term (2010/11) since Jose was last at the Bridge, it’s a fair bet there will be a pot of some description on the sideboard come May.
So what’s most pressing in the new (old) manager’s in-tray?.. Effectively the same question that stretched the grey matter of the last four Blues bosses: how to manage the transition between the old guard and new breed while still maintaining a title challenge. Chelsea are now a smaller, more fluid machine than the steamroller of 2004/06, so marrying the skills of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar to a reliable and prolific front man is a top priority.
Splashing out on a striker, then? Not yet but remember Romelu Lukaku is back from his excellent loan spell at West Brom last season. Already new to the Bridge this summer are deep-lying forward Andre Schürrle (Bayer Leverkusen), midfielder Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse Arnhem) and Mark Schwarzer, a free agent after leaving Fulham, while Michael Essien follows his manager back from Madrid for a second stint.