Premier League 2013-14 preview: Chelsea to Sparkle as Happy One is back among his people
The Premier League lost a bit of gloss with the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson but it has been buzzing with life again, after the self-proclaimed Happy One returned back to Chelsea, for the second time around to fulfill some of his unfinished businesses.
Despite finishing third in the league last season, Jose Mourinho must be thankful to his predecessor, Rafael Benitez, for handing him a squad in good shape that needs some fine tuning but not many radical changes. Optimism and balance has been restored at the Bridge, with his arrival and Chelsea can look forward to a new beginning, though immediate surgeries are required.
However, the summer was dominated by media reports of departures of several star players from the club. Last season’s top performers Juan Mata and David Luiz have been linked away with moves away from London, with reports suggesting that Mourinho harbours doubt over their abilities, especially with the Brazilian, and could be ready to cash in on them. It created brouhaha in the media, as both Luiz and Mata were nowhere near London to communicate with their new boss, due to their participation in the Confederations Cup.
Likewise, the future of John Obi Mikel, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres were all heavily speculated in the media. But, Mourinho has quashed all doubts by revealing that none of his star players will be sold in the summer.
Needless to say, strike department is one of the key areas that need strengthening. The Blues have tried their best to lure Edinson Cavani from Napoli and are in talks to bring Manchester United’s unsettled striker Wayne Rooney to Stamford Bridge. With Ba and Torres, still not convincing enough, Jose has pinned great hopes on youngster Romelu Lukaku, who has impressed a lot in the pre-season.
Creative options have been bolstered in the summer with the purchase of Germany international Andre Schurrle for more than £18 million. The versatile play-maker can play on either side of flanks and just behind the striker as well. His arrival has paved the way for Marko Marin to leave on loan to Sevilla. The avalanche of creative midfielders at Chelsea – Oscar, Hazard, Mata, Marko van Ginkel, Moses and now Schurrle – can wreak havoc to any team on their day.
Likewise, Mourinho should not worry too much about the defence as well. The club has four central defenders, with John Terry the club skipper dropping down the pecking orders. Jose will be delighted with a reliable right back in Cesar Azpilicueta while Ashley Cole at left-back still remains one of the best in the business.
But, it is the central midfield which could pose few questions. Despite Michael Essien returning back to the club, it remains to be seen whether he can impose the same impact he once had. Meanwhile Frank Lampard and Ramires are not too convincing while playing deep either. Luiz was used as a defensive central midfielder by Benitez last season but it cannot be seen as a not a long term solution.
Jose will impart a sense of belief and attitude to this side. The sheer determination of finding a way to win matches, when things are not going according to plans was one of the trademark traits of the previous Chelsea squad under Mourinho.
The weakness in few positions can be covered with collective efforts, which Mourinho should be looking at, if he fails to add any top names before the transfer window closes down. With more options available to him, the Blues should challenge other contenders all the way for the Premiership title.