Despite Chelsea looking set to have their first trophyless season since 2011 it has been far from a failure and Jose’s ‘little horse’ is now ready to come flying out of the blocks next season. Here are 5 reasons why…
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
After Chelsea’s Champions League Semi-Final heartbreak on Wednesday and being just 2 points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League title race, Chelsea’s season appears to be over. Judging by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s standards this would be the equivalent of a trophy but this is not enough to appease most Blues fans. They can however take great confidence that they were able to manage a title charge this season after finishing 14 points behind Premier League Champions Manchester United in the previous campaign (how things have changed!) without a world class striker and a new manager.
Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea with an ancient John Terry, a lacklustre and ill-disciplined David Luiz, a player playing out of position in the form of Branislav Ivanovic and an out-of-form Ashley Cole.
Almost one season later and ‘The Special One’ has led his team to having the best defence in the Premier League. With just one game to go, Chelsea have shipped the least amount of goals in the Premier League with 26, 11 goals less than Man City who have the second best defence.
John Terry has now formed an impenetrable defensive partnership with Gary Cahill. Branislav Ivanovic is a contender for best right-back of the season. David Luiz is now crucial to Chelsea’s midfield and a new Stamford Bridge favourite has been found in Cesar Azpilicueta (just call him Dave). Mourinho has built a solid base, a foundation to build on. He can now begin to work on making his team more expansive, more pleasing to the eye, without having to worry about defensive vulnerabilities. Something Liverpool have lacked this season, as have Barcelona in recent years, and may have just cost them the league. Will Jose have to worry about this next season?
RESULTS AGAINST THE BIG BOYS
Under Mourinho’s guidance and tactical master-class Chelsea have failed to lose against any of the top three this season and last Sunday’s win against Liverpool has guaranteed the Blues taking maximum points against the eventual Premier League victors, be it Liverpool or Manchester City. Compared to recent seasons where Chelsea struggled against the bigger teams, most famously in their humiliating 5-3 defeat at home to Arsenal in 2012, Mourinho’s men this year have shown they are no pushovers.
If the Blues can maintain this record next season then they will be well on course to lifting the Barclay’s Premier League for a fourth time. In fact, it has been teams in the bottom half that have really cost Chelsea the title this year. Teams that are happy to sit and ask questions of Chelsea’s firepower. Which leads me to my next point…
TORRES AND CO A BLESSING IN DISGUISE
Despite only scoring 18 league goals between them so far Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba are actually a blessing in disguise if Chelsea are going to improve next season. Their poor goals return will now most definitely lead to Jose Mourinho strengthening his squad in the summer with at least two world class centre forwards.
Diego Costa seems a likely candidate with other interest in the form of Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic and PSG’s Edison Cavani. Many see a world class striker as the final piece of the puzzle to this Chelsea team and it’s thanks to the current set of strikers at Stamford Bridge that will make this possible.
It was inevitable that Chelsea were going to have a transitional season at some point. Many would argue the same scenario is taking place at Old Trafford. What was the difference between Manchester United’s season compared to that of Chelsea’s? United were in the same situation with a new manager coming in yet they are currently sat in seventh with no Champions League football next season.
Meanwhile further south in West London, Chelsea have ended their campaign with a Champions League Semi Final and a title challenge whilst recruiting a key figure in Nemanja Matic. By selling fan’s favourite Juan Mata for a fee of £37 million to the Red Devils they have now set themselves up for a summer of big spending without having to worry about potential implications for failing to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play.
‘If Carlsberg did transitional seasons’… they’d probably be as good a Chelsea’s one!
It’s not all doom and gloom at Stamford Bridge despite limited success this season. There are many positives for Chelsea fans to take from this campaign and we should all look forward to exciting times in the very near future. Jose Mourinho has undoubtedly built a very strong base at Chelsea in his return but can he set the league on fire next year or will we continue to see the bus being parked?
What do you think? Has Jose’s first season back been a good one? Or has it been a failure based on his high standards? How will Chelsea fare next season?