A new season, another new manager, but what might be expected Jose returning to the English Premier League?
A prolific goalscorer is something that Chelsea have tried and failed with in the past. With the exception of Didier Drogba, Roman Abramovich and Jose Mourinho never quite got it right when finding that one man to lead the line.
Mourinho’s first signing in 2003 was Mateja Kezman – a hit in the Eredivisie with PSV, but a huge failure when asked to lead the line in the Premier League with only seven goals in forty appearances.
Andriy Shevchenko was allegedly forced upon Mourinho by Abramovich; although still talented, the all-time leading goalscorer for the Ukraine was past his best and the £30 million splurged on the then 29 year-old was the catalyst for the split between owner and manager. Nine goals in three seasons for Shevchenko speaks for itself. £50 million has always been an albatross around the neck of Fernando Torres; although the Spaniard notched a reasonable twenty-two goals last season, only eight were scored in the Premier League.
With Mourinho this week stating that Torres has been so-so in his spell at Stamford Bridge, El Nino probably isn’t the man that Jose wants. That man could already be at the club.....
One thing Chelsea have done well amongst all of the chaos of recent years is recognise young talent. Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois were all been brought to West London at sometimes eye-watering cost (Lukaku cost £20 million as an 18 year-old), but all have been bought with a vision for the future. The Belgian trio were loaned out to gain first-team experience last season – but does Mourinho continue their development elsewhere or bring them back to rejuvenate an aging squad?
Most obviously, Lukaku could be Mourinho’s signal of intention; as the man who introduced Didier Drogba to the Premier League, it could be time to give the 20 year-old a starting berth after an impressive seventeen goal spell at West Brom.
Courtois was a revelation in his loan spell at Atletico Madrid last season – as anybody who saw him deny Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final will attest to. Will Mourinho be brave enough to replace Petr Cech – a man he brought to the club from Rennes in 2003?
Part of Mourinho’s success at Chelsea last time around was the proximity to his players, most notably the English trio of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. Post-Mourinho, this faction of senior players led an unhealthy rebellion that led to the dismissals of Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto di Matteo, whilst interim boss Rafa Benitez did himself no favours by leaving out fans’ and media favourite Lampard and by benching club captain Terry for most of his tenure.
Although that relationship will return naturally, it is in the best interests of the Old Guard to embrace Mourinho to squeeze more from their careers and for Mourinho to establish power in the dressing room once again. Live football in 2013 at Stamford Bridge is guaranteed to be unmissable.
The squad at Chelsea is somewhat on the bulky side; competing for the three attacking midfield slots alone are Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin, Kevin De Bruyne, Victor Moses and new boy Andre Schurrle. Mourinho is somebody who likes to work with a tight squad of around twenty-three players, so expect some heads to roll.
This is New Manager 101: it signals intent to the dressing room, the fans, rivals and the board room that the new man is here for the long haul. No doubt Mourinho will make that signing – but where will it come from? Monaco are the nouveau-riche that Chelsea once were in 2003, hoovering up the talents of Joao Moutinho, James Rodriguez and Falcao already; any potential signing for Chelsea is also one for Monaco.
This new signing is unlikely to come from Spain, with Mourinho antagonising either his own dressing room or rival managers in his ultimately frustrating spell at Madrid.
The smart money points to Edinson Cavani of Napoli, who has batted his eyelashes at all of the European heavyweights so far this summer. Truly one of the most complete forwards in the world today and with a £53 million release clause, Cavani is the perfect marquee signing for the Happy One.