My piece for RantSports on how Chelsea’s summer activity may affect them.
Chelsea head into the 2015016 season with less pressure than most teams in Europe. A major title will do that for you.
While the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City are required to challenge the defending Premier League champions, the Blues don’t feel the need to make many changes. At least, that’s what you get from Jose Mourinho‘s recent comments. The Portuguese manager is set for this third season in a second stint at the London club and is looking to longevity and not a swift smash and grab this time around.
Chelsea were deserving champions and the most complete team in the Premier League last season. They picked up a solid lead in the first half of the season and basically coasted the rest of the way. Mourinho’s thoughts that little needs to change can be expected then. It may be foolish to question a manager who has won the titles he has in four different countries, but Mourinho would be wrong to think that.
Mourinho’s lack of rotation is part of the reason why Chelsea reverted to a more pragmatic style of play from January onwards after some stylish football in the first half of the season. It may well have been Mourinho’s plan regardless of his players’ energy at the time as Mourinho is, before all else, a manager most concerned with results. Whether or not the “Special One” uses a similar approach will be key to his side’s success on all fronts again this coming season.
A quiet summer so far has seen Didier Drogba leave to be replaced by a player with a lot of question marks in the form of Radamel Falcao. That leaves the forward line pretty much the same, with Diego Costa and Loic Remy likely to stay put. Reported interest in Everton‘s John Stones has led to nothing but annoyance from Toffees manager Roberto Martinez, and it’s hard to see that move being finalized this summer. Filipe Luis is allegedly on the way out after an underwhelming season, and Juan Cuadrado, who joined in January, is constantly linked away as well.
Mourinho will look to replace either player should they leave, but if he didn’t trust them in the first place it’s unlikely their replacements will have much success. Even with those replacements, the squad is still one that may succumb to fatigue before crunch time if Mourinho doesn’t rotate. If he is willing to trust his youngsters, still a weak spot in his otherwise exemplary career, then Chelsea will be fine — at least in terms of depth.
It’s possible that the focus may be on the Champions League this time around as opposed to the domestic competitions, but a side that wants to be considered equals to Real Madrid or Barcelona shouldn’t be allocating resources in one way or another before the season begins. All trophies should be in play.
Chelsea will need another winger and a fullback to strengthen those areas. The midfield seems set as long as Ramires and John Obi-Mikel are given their chances, as well as youngster, Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Cuadrado could move back to right back at times to give Mourinho a more attack-minded option, but the manager just may want be to rid of him altogether.
Chelsea have the quality to challenge on all fronts this season, but physical factors will get in the way unless Mourinho adjusts or additions are made. The Chelsea manager wants to build a legacy at the club where he made his name. Now would be a good time for him to make the moves to do so.