Not ‘the Special One’ but ‘the Happy One’ – and who would say a word to contradict him! Well, Mourinho has not been the usual nonchalant, self-important character on his second coming at the Bridge.
However, he certainly is the one to spread his infectious and the much needed vibes of optimism across West London in the past few weeks. Having been refraining to barge into any transfer headlines to stifle his opponents or provide a taste of his whimsical anecdotes to boost the sales of tabloids on the streets, Mourinho is clearly on a rehabilitation program that may have its own set of fuzzy reasons.
Yet all the outlandish traits of the Portuguese do little to quake the image of him being a well-versed practitioner of the game. He still has his tactics chalked down for the season, the deep pockets sketch is ever-so lofty ambitions and an ability to snap all the players on his wishlist (Well, almost all of them!).
While Mourinho would prefer to say otherwise, it’s fair to say that the current lot at Chelsea may not be as ready yet to become English champions. A team that went on to revolutionize its game even after winning the Champions League shows that Roman and Co. are now looking beyond quick-fix success.
Having signed up Mourinho – be it a shade of imminent reconciliation or a marriage of convenience – the club and his returning manager is now attempting to stretch their foresight to evolve a stable institution in West London. Chelsea definitely is rooting for a pragmatic shift ideology. And when we put Jose Mourinho back in the Chelsea frame, things have progressed dramatically during his 6-year stint away from Chelsea.
Mourinho left a side that exuded a battle ready character, yet all he has now is a squad needing time to exhibit their maximum potential. He also a left a side that was hungry for their first European crown, but now has already tasted back to back triumphs on the biggest of footballing stages.
Moreover, the club’s transfer activity does not reflect the usual freneticism and the quality of English football has been dealing with a damning reality check of continental incompetency.
While these challenges remain daunting as ever, none could deny the fact that Jose Mourinho – after posting his winning signature across European football – still retains the anatomy of winner. Be it Porto or Madrid – He has adapted effortlessly to almost every footballing culture and his vast experience could do nothing but consolidate with a team with a turbulent past.
For starters, Mourinho seems to have played all the right moves on the board. His eye for every detail in revamping certain areas of the squad has seen some smart business in the name of Van Ginkel, Andre Schurrle. While, his decision to keep Romelu Lukaku in contention and keeping tabs on the Rooney situation could also go a long way to decide the domestic battles.
The influx of these new signings and the emergence of Kevin De Bruyne means Mourinho will stick to his preferred 4-3-3 setup that eases out into an on-field 4-2-3-1 ensemble – a style that should traditionally favour swift counter-attacks . By looks of what we have seen in the pre-season, Mourinho has found a warhorse in Schurrle, who has pulled off attacking and defensive shifts on the wing. Also, Van Ginkel, De Bruyne and the returning Michael Essien should help Chelsea strengthen the central midfield and still leave them with enough options to compete in all competitions.
While Di Matteo, with a similar system, was dependent on a streak of attacking bursts that lost its bearings by October, Mourinho’s improved unit should do enough to sketch a neat balance between flair and his emphasis on end results.
The other top dogs of the league on the other hand are scampering in the market to generate some momentum ahead of the season, as the Mou Camp at Cobham has all but finishing touches to provide ahead of the big kick-off. Mourinho’s Chelsea is not just ruling the betting odds ahead of the new season, but has also taken no time to remind us of how a manager must prepare a side in pre-season.
As the league veterans like Wenger and Moyes are caught in a dilemma of spending money with not a single realistic target on the radar, Mourinho has done more than enough to outmuscle them in the transfer market. Not by the power of Roman’s unlimited wealth. This time in fact, it was by the virtue of single-minded approach in snapping his target with little fuss along the way. It was never a secret that unlike other managers, window-shopping has never been something associated to Jose Mourinho – and again, he made that point evident ahead of the new season.
Mourinho would know that his current squad will not just be the facing the heat of being overwhelming league favourites but will also be compared to the ruthless unit of ‘Mou 1.0’ stint at Chelsea. And to shield his players, the Portuguese has decided to start on the defensive mode by setting the silverware targets for next season.
However, it is tough to imagine Mourinho not complaining for lost points, bickering with referees or even missing out on a wicked celebration down the touchline. With Mourinho in their corner, Chelsea have every right to be confident.
For the rest in the competition, only condolences and a hope of miracle should suffice as the Premier League title take its first few steps away from Manchester, on its way to London.