Ever since his re-introduction as Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho looks like a man with a plan. Surprisingly for many Blues faithful, the Portuguese looks set to be given time to execute that plan – a luxury that was not afforded to many of his predecessors.
There was always expected to be a season of transition, a time for Mourinho to impose his philosophy, his ideas on the team. And that is exactly what happened in his first season back. He brought in fresh faces, gave lifelines to some old ones and ruthlessly cut out the dead wood from the team.
With that in mind, come the 2014-15 season, everything that Chelsea did, seemed to have the Mourinho trademark on it. His team, although mostly inherited from previous managers, are now playing their part in making the Mourinho Project a Part II a successful one. And with everything to his liking, there were going to be high expectations and a lust for silverware a only seen before during his first spell in charge at the club.
When Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspurs to win their maiden title under The Project, those expectations started to turn into reality. And with Manchester City now looking well and truly out of the title race this season, the a little horsea analogy that Mourinho used last season to describe his team is history, they are now a thoroughbred. Both trophies more than enough to keep the management and fans satiated.
With the Premier League virtually on its way to west London, unless there is slip-up of Gerrard-esque proportions (sorry Liverpool fans, couldna t help it), the question remains as to where Chelsea are headed. Be it next season, or even five seasons down the line.
Along with Mourinho, Roman Abramovic also seems a changed man this time around. The Russian billionaire is happy to let the Portuguese make crucial decisions related to transfers, youth policy and in general, calling the shots. Even allowing his apparent favourite Fernando Torres to leave as a part of The Project was perceived as a PR win for Mourinho and his backroom staff.
If there is one thing for certain about the future of Chelsea in the Premier League, it is that the transfer policy has been decided ans cast in stone. Of all the teams in the league, the Bluesa policy is the one that has been appreciated by fans and pundits alike. Be it selling David Luiz or Juan Mata for a combined profit of more than 30 million pounds or selling Andre Schurrle to finance a move for Juan Cuadrado, the club management deserves a hat-tip.
Keeping that in mind, we will not be surprised to see more of Chelsea-bred youngsters join the fray. That part of The Project may have already begun with the grooming of Kurt Zouma as a replacement for John Terry and possible game time next season for the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke. Also, with the sheer number of Chelsea loanees playing across Europe, it will not come as a surprise if many of them were turned into permanent moves to make room for the young Englishmen.
The Blues, unlike seasons past, are looking within their own ranks to find the next superstar. It might be partly due to Financial Fair Play (FFP) restrictions and partly due to a decision by the management to that effect.
There has been a noticeable dip in Chelseaa s intensity and form lately, and many attribute it to complacency. While that may be true, the Portuguese is known to not know that word. Ever the cautious man since his return, the a call me the Special Onea Mourinho has now become a City are still in the title racea Mourinho. It is an appreciable change for Chelsea fans, but only up to a point where he still keeps using his a dirty little tricksa to get into his opponents minds.
There are not many a problem areasa for Chelsea this season, but that does not mean there wont be any in the future. The likes of Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic have been stars this season and a lack of genuine back up for the two is worrying Chelsea fans. Even though likes of Loftus-Cheek and Solanke may have the potential to fill in for them, but their lack of experience will be a huge dampener. The Chelsea of old would have jumped straight into the market and bought the Sami Khediras and the Marco Reusa of the world, but the new, more calculating Chelsea could look at Cobham for their next Matic or Hazard.
A tiny blot on an otherwise trophy-laden career so far for the Portuguese has been the lack of European glory under his management at Stamford Bridge. Even though there is no actual pressure on him to deliver that trophy now, some years down the line, there definitely will be. Although Chelsea have been the undoubted flag-bearers for England in the tournament in recent times, they were made to look small by a giant performance by Paris Saint-Germain in the round-of-16 match in London. It might just be an aberration, but questions about the tactical astuteness required to win the Champions League was called into question.
Not looking too far ahead, the next season is undoubtedly going to be Mourinhoa s toughest so far. Not many clubs have won back-to-back titles (non-Sir Alex led teams), and it will be a huge achievement if Mourinho does manage to do it (like he did in his first spell in-charge). Although it wont be a disaster if he doesna t, he knows that at a club like Chelsea, one needs to keep feeding the fans and the owner with their regular share of silver to keep them happy.