Monday, 17 June 2013

Can Mourinho Achieve Immediate Success in his Chelsea Return?

by Zoe Rundle

"The Happy One"
(Wiki Commons)
After a six year absence, which has seen eight different managers take on the role of Chelsea boss, "The Special One" is back once and for all. The question is can he emulate the success he initially had back when he took the job in June 2004? Mourinho now claims to be "The Happy One" and there doesn't appear to be any real doubts about him. It is clear that he has the ability after proving himself in almost every top league in the world and some would argue that this current opportunity is as bright as ever for the Portuguese character.

It can often take quite some time for managers to get used to a new job. For example, Sir Alex Ferguson didn't win a trophy in his first three years at Manchester United and Liverpool were only triumphant in two of their opening eleven games under Brendan Rogers last season. It's easy to think that Mourinho is heading in the same direction, however the crucial factor to remember is that this is a man who doesn't know how to fail and someone who simply won't give until success is achieved. Furthermore, Mourinho is someone who was said to be instrumental in the building of Chelsea's prestigious Cobham training facility, a place which he'll be on a day-to-day basis next season. He is familiar with these surroundings and after spending the best part of two years at this elite location, it can only work in his favour. Not only this, Mourinho obviously knows the Chelsea area well from his previous stint as manager and while it can be said that this isn't a crucial factor, any small advantage he has could be vital in kickstarting the season. It's not just the surroundings which Mourinho is familiar with; legends such as John Terry and Frank Lampard have worked with the Portuguese icon previously meaning they know his style and already have an established relationship with him. With several managerial changes across the country, Mourinho looks to have the upper hand on them all. He is familiar with so many aspects associated with Chelsea Football Club and on top of this, he's also aware of several of the twenty stadiums which he'll visit, unlike some of the new managers coming in. More importantly, he last visited Old Trafford (the home ground of rivals Manchester United) in early March meaning that his knowledge of the ground and the size of the pitch is rather fresh in his mind. Small details like this could be turn out to be particularly vital should the two teams find themselves battling for the title next season, making the importance of these clashes even higher.

Next season, Chelsea will compete for the FA Cup, the League Cup the Champions League and of course the Premier League. Many would argue that the latter is the one they have their eyes on most after not having won it since 2010. The mood will certainly be high around Stamford Bridge with the fans offering nothing but praise to Mourinho since his arrival was officially announced last week and one may say that Chelsea have a real chance of glory in the league next season. With four of last year's top six finishers changing their manager, it could open up an opportunity for Mourinho's Chelsea. While he too is new to his job, he has experience at Chelsea and in the Premier League meaning that the familiarity may give The Blues an advantage. Manuel Pellegrini, for example, has never managed in the Premier League before and has spent the last three years at the same club so therefore might find it hard to adapt. Not only this, Sir Alex Ferguson has been in charge of Manchester United for the past twenty-six and a half years so a new manager will definitely be hard to get used to. Therefore, Chelsea do stand in a relatively strong position as we approach the new season and look as if they could certainly challenge for the title. To further this point, there is no reason why they can't have a decent cup run and seek one of these trophies. They have one of the strongest squads in the country accompanied by one of the strongest managers in the world so, really, there isn't too much to fault.

You could argue that Arsenal also look to be in a prominent position at this stage. Arsene Wenger has been in charge since 1996 and the current squad looks strong. Players such as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have certainly proven to be a real force for both club and country in the recent months and their devastating pace down the wings can easily cause trouble for defenders. However, if Arsenal are going to stand a chance at the title, they need to spend money. Another centre forward looks to be required so that chances can be turned into goals on every occasion. Arsenal currently lie in a very similar situation to Chelsea apart from the fact that they've stuck with their manager. The squad they have is now developed and have learned how to play with one another comfortably. With signings such as Podolski and Giroud last season, it took some time to adapt and by the end of the season The Gunners couldn't stop winning. As well as this, Arsenal are long over-due a title and they can't maintain this form much longer without bagging a trophy. It's about time they were rewarded and, like Chelsea, the opportunity they have now is as good as ever. It could well be Arsenal who put a spanner in the works of Mourinho's season next year.

There is also the potential threat posed by Tottenham Hotspur, who, similarly to Arsenal, haven't changed their manager. A lot of their success in the upcoming season really does depend on whether Gareth Bale stays put at White Hart Lane. He netted twenty-one times in the Premier League last season, a staggering achievement for a midfielder, and was influential in Spurs' domestic campaign. Right now, it's difficult to see Tottenham captain Michael Dawson lifting the Premier League trophy next season, however a cup triumph could be on the cards. Spurs are a team who like a trip to Wembley and a controversial decision against Chelsea at this location in last year's FA Cup semi-final would certainly make a rematch highly anticipated. Tottenham are a team with bags of potential and could well damage Chelsea's hopes in the cup this year.

Finally, we can not leave the debate regarding Chelsea's Champions League chances untouched. The simple argument here would be to say that Chelsea have no chance given the strength of the other teams taking part in the world's greatest club competition. However, a close analysis may reveal otherwise. Two of the greatest threats here would have to be Barcelona and Bayern Munich and Chelsea know what it's like to beat them both. Last year The Blues overcame Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League and then went on to the final where they beat Bayern in Munich; this feeling will still be very much with the majority of Chelsea's squad today and will certainly make them all extremely determined to achieve this greatness again. Not only this, Mourinho knows Barcelona's game well from managing in La Liga for the past three seasons, and with Pep Guardiola taking over the German Giants Bayern Munich, Chelsea's chances are slightly more encouraging than they first appear. As well as this, Mourinho will have some knowledge of how the Real Madrid squad like to play and the various aspects they bring to the game so should Chelsea come up against them, they certainly will be well advised. Furthermore, David Moyes has never managed in the Champions League before meaning that the new experience may need some time to get used to. Therefore, Manchester United's threat may not be as high as it was this time last year. Winning the Champions League will not be an easy task and it's demanding nature to deliver in every game means that maximum flop us is necessary. Despite this, and after a closer look, one may argue that Chelsea's chances are just as good as any other team in the competition and the fact that Mourinho's won it twice before certainly stands Chelsea in good stead.

We can clearly see that there is an opportunity for Mourinho, and therefore Chelsea, to achieve great success next season. After looking at the other potential champions of the Premier League next season, it seems that there is no real reason why The Blues can't be victorious. Similarly in the domestic cups, Chelsea can easily be seen as the favourites, particularly looking at the strength of their squad and the accolade of their manager. The same could be said for the Champions League; the task is a big one, but after looking at some of the opposition, Chelsea certain have a possibility of glory. Now that Mourinho has his wish of being somewhere he is "loved", it appears that the pieces of puzzle are all there and ready to fit together for what looks to be an exciting 2013-2014 season for Chelsea.

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