As a new transfer window kicks off, recurring themes can be seen on the English shores. Manchester City continue identifying ridiculously priced home grown Englishmen who they can buy and ‘integrate’ them on the bench and sell them off after wiping a few zeroes off their value to make place for another highly rated home-grown player.
Manchester United’s window kicks off with pledges to finally fill the gaping holes in defence and midfield left by departing legends Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic with a capable replacement in the shape of a Mats Hummels or an Arturo Vidal and ends with them signing another attacker for a significant outlay leaving many questioning whether it was really necessary.
The Reds of Merseyside continue their wild card lottery approach of signing wheeler dealer bargains or outrageously priced unknowns hoping that one of their dark horse signings becomes a hit.
Meanwhile in London, Arsenal continues to pursue the “next” - ‘Next-Viera’ a position they have never truly been able to fill since their former Captain’s departure, irrespective of what the agents of Mikel Arteta or Matthieu Flamini would have us believe.
Last season, one team who was really swift and decisive in securing players who would strengthen their team was Chelsea. Identifying very early the positions needing reinforcements and pinpointing the exact personnel he wanted, Mourinho was able to secure Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. That was probably the most crucial among other factors which were instrumental in them being crowned as Champions in dominant fashion.
It is all the more impressive when you realise that Chelsea’s net spending was a staggering £5.1 Million with the £30million and £32million deals for Costa and Fabregas being offset by the transfer fee and wages of players which didn’t fit into Mourinho’s plans like Romelu Lukaku, David Luiz and Demba Ba.
This was much to the dismay of Arsene Wenger and the United faithful who almost in hypocrisy continue to deride Chelsea on their spending when they have forked out paltry sums of £65million and £104Million respectively.
Chelsea’s 2014/15 season recap
The Chelsea team had a solid dependable defence, a perfect central midfield pivot and an attack which can strike fear in an opponent’s mind which was equally efficient at fluid attacking moves as it was at “putting in a shift” when the team needed it. It had what the manager was craving for since he came back to England, balance. A team built on exactly what the manager thrives on a typical ‘Mourinho team’.
Chelsea began the season in truly flamboyant fashion exhibiting urgency, dominating teams and blowing competition out of the water like a typical ‘Mourinho-team’ effective, no-nonsense, precise, clinical and ruthless till the last whistle. Defeats to Brentford and Tottenham in quick succession soon knocked them off steam. Almost suddenly it looked like a completely different team, patient, unadventurous and the team who was tipped to break goal records were suddenly “Boring 1-0 ‘ers”.
At tough away matches and during the festive season, Mourinho set his team to grind out results and get the job done (or “park the bus” depending on who you support) rather than approach each match with a gung-ho style.
The slump in form or style or whatever you prefer to call it was as much due to injury,suspensions and the jadedness of the players due to Mourinho’s completely non-existent rotation policy as it was to the cautious and overtly un-cavalier approach adopted by him as the business end approached which has won him many-a-trophies in world football.
Oscar who began the season brightly waned into oblivion mid-way. Suspensions and injuries prevented Costa and Fabregas following up their early season form into the second half of the season. It was only Hazard’s blistering form and Terry’s resurgence at the back that prevented Chelsea’s title charge from derailing.
As Mourinho stated at the end of the season. Chelsea has a squad of Champions and it’s hard to tinker with a winning team, but it does need reinforcements if it has to sustain another title challenge.
With Petr Cech having been allowed to move to cross-town title rivals Arsenal, there is a huge hole in terms of experience, locker room influence and undoubted ability. Asmir Begovic and Robert Green have both been linked with a move to Chelsea.
It has been reported that Begovic is close to a move. It is essential to get this deal done quickly before the De Gea to Madrid saga draws to a close as a starting berth at United would definitely be more attractive than a cup-matches berth at Chelsea. Begovic would do well to move to a club who has higher ambition than Stoke would ever have in the foreseeable future and would be backing himself to support if not compete with Courtois for the number one spot.