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Chelsea and Mourinho’s Early Season Review: So Far, So Good
When Jose Mourinho signed on to a second term as Chelsea manager, many of the Blues faithful could hardly believe their luck. Here they had attained the services of one of the best managers in world football, and a boss who had already garnered legendary status at Stamford Bridge years before.
There were many, however, that argued that Mourinho was a doomed man. His previous successes were bound to be put on a pedestal, and with the competition in the Premier League being what it is, it was suggested that a repeat performance of his former triumphs was largely impossible.
Mourinho then, was always bound to be scrutinized under the very brightest of spotlights. However, many commentators refuse to critique a team’s progress in the Premier League until approximately 10 matches have been complete.
It is therefore high time for us to go over just how the charismatic Portuguese has faired so far this season. Chelsea’s latest victory against Manchester City on Sunday wrapped up their ninth league fixture, the squad is well under way in the Champions League and the Stamford Bridge outfit are on the eve of a tricky encounter at the Emirates in the League Cup. Let the scrutiny begin.
So, without further adieu, just how do we think the “happy” one has done so far?
Premier League – B+
In the Premier League Chelsea have been, in a word, solid. Barring the recent victory over City, Chelsea have been victorious over teams that you would really expect them to beat. They have triumphed over Hull, Aston Villa, Fulham, Norwich and Cardiff – all of whom are in the bottom 11 places of the Premier League so far.
Chelsea lost away to Everton in a match that they looked set to win following a dominant first-half performance, and they drew against Manchester United and Tottenham in games that, in all honesty, could have gone either way.
The good news for Chelsea and Mourinho is that the Blues finally seem to be settling on what their starting 11 should be. Although debates continue to rage regarding the status of Mata, Luiz, Lukaku – not to mention the presence of Schurrle in the squad – Mourinho appears to be getting to grips with his team. Torres appears to be reinvigorated by the presence of a man-motivator of the caliber of Mourinho and has finally started scoring in the league.
The bad news is that some of Chelsea’s victories have been unconvincing. The victory over Aston Villa was fortunate to say the least, and they only came out on top over Norwich following a late flurry of goals from Chelsea substitutes that inflated the scoreline and flattered both Chelsea and Mourinho. The defeat at Everton in particular demonstrated a possibility that this team is likely to have more “off” days than in Mourinho’s previous tenure.
Regardless, Chelsea and Mourinho get a B+ so far for their performance in the league. They may have been successful over mostly lower-placed teams, but one cannot fault them for beating weaker sides. Chelsea could have produced better results at Spurs, Old Trafford and Goodison Park, but away points at those venues are often at a premium for any side in the league
The biggest victory for Chelsea in the Premier League this season has nothing to do with them. The surprisingly poor performance of both Manchester clubs – supposedly Chelsea’s main title rivals – represents almost an open invitation to alternate would-be title challengers to finally wrestle the championship from the firm grip of Manchester. These two clubs are the only squads other than Chelsea that have won the league for almost a decade.
Whilst Arsenal and Liverpool have been flying, Mourinho will surely feel that his squad has the experience and wherewithal to go toe-to-toe with either of those teams over the long haul. Certainly, if Chelsea’s form continues and Liverpool and Arsenal drop off as many predict they will, then the Blues may well be in for a great chance at the title. Chelsea are considered to be second-favourites for the Premier League, and you can bet for the Blues on Bwin.
Champions League – B+
Another B+ for Chelsea, this time in the Champions League.
Naturally, every Chelsea supporter will have been utterly dismayed by the result and performance versus Basel at home in their first outing in this season’s glamour tournament. Mourinho has since labeled the performance “garbage,” and the poor showing of several players in that match including Mata and Luiz has since left them in pseudo-exile, struggling to break into the first 11.
Regardless, Chelsea responded brilliantly well, crushing Steaua Bucharest 4-0 away from home, then winning 3-0 versus FC Schalke 04 at the intimidating Veltins-Arena.
Following those two dominant away performaces, Mourinho will feel hugely confident of advancing to the round of sixteen. He will, however, be desperate to finish top of the group in order to avoid the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG and Real Madrid all of whom appear on course to top their respective groups.
Mourinho will need victories against Schalke and Basel to ensure that, and so the Blues’ European campaign remains cautiously optimistic.
Cup Competitions – A
Hardly enough information to go off so far, with a fairly casual victory over Swindon representing Chelsea’s only cup match to date. Certainly, Chelsea will be tested in the immediate future with their impending match at the Emirates.
All in all then, a pleasing start to Jose Mourinho’s second tenure at Stamford Bridge. Whilst Chelsea had one or two unconvincing matches early on, fans will be looking at their future fixture list with confidence, noting that it appears the Special One’s team is starting to demonstrate the old steel and resilience that made them so difficult to beat in years past.