Colours nailed firmly to the mast (blue, as it happens, on this occasion) I firmly fancy Chelsea to win the title this season.
I suspect Jose Mourinho strongly expects that to happen too. In fact, if he spoke totally frankly I guess he’d say: “If there are no disasters and if everyone does what I tell them to then we’ll win by a length.”
What he actually did say last weekend was:
“This season I don’t want to worry about who’s our biggest rivals. “I thought a lot about that and the key is that my club gave me exactly what I asked for [in the market].”
However, somewhere in the calculating, shrewd left hemisphere of his brain will be the acceptance that Roman Abramovich’s track record leaves no room for doubt: win the title and/or the Champions League or it’s the sack.
First-rate recruits for a title assault
Whatever Chelsea win, the internet already has a joke for it.
You don’t have to look hard to find the wits who have designed a Chelsea shirt with the Atlético Madrid crest on it.
And here’s Diego Costa! #CFC https://t.co/CTNiZW6YuD
— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) August 12, 2014
Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois repatriated. While these are first-rate recruits for an assault on both the Champions League and deposing Manchester City they could, look, to some, like the perfect ‘bait’ for Diego Simeone.
Might the Blues’ Russian owner be attracted by this feisty Argentinian title winner who resembles nothing more than a young, hungry Mourinho circa 2004?
The same prodigy whose team outplayed Chelsea at the Bridge last spring, preventing them reaching Abramovich’s hallowed ground of the Champions League final? And if Simeone is the ‘Plan B’ marked Навсякийслучай ['just in case' in Russian] then what better way to scheme for the future than stripping the backbone of his Spanish champions and installing them at Stamford Bridge?
Such are the risks of the high-octane world in which elite football managers like Mourinho exist. Kill or be killed.
- Can the blues get off to a banging start against Burnley? Latest odds >
Jose’s Inter mission
However, this time I think it’s reasonable to back Mourinho and suspect that he’s replicated his very best transfer market splurge – at Inter in summer 2009. The echoes are uncanny.
Beaten by Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia and Manchester United in the Champions league [in the semi final and the round of sixteen, the same stages Chelsea reached in the two competitions last season] Mourinho did two things.
The night of the United defeat he buttonholed his club owner, Massimo Moratti and demanded: “I want this, this and this player to come and want to let this, this and this veteran player to go…” Ring any bells from this summer?
Then, after the Coppa Italia humiliation, he told the media: “You are always badgering me to use certain players more [Mancini, Vieira, Crespo, Maxwell, Adriano].. this is what you get.”
For months Mourinho warned that the squad he’d inherited wasn’t sufficiently good. The following season’s treble, powered by his own signings, proved his case.
Diego Milito pic.twitter.com/vicGpkS76W — Soy Racinguista (@Racinguistas) August 11, 2014
All last season he warned that Chelsea’s strikers weren’t converting a sufficient percentage of their chances. Finishing 30 goals behind both Liverpool and City proved him right.
Long before the end of season 2008/9, almost as soon as defeat to United was wrapped up, so were the purchases of Thiago Motta and Diego Milito from Genoa.
Mourinho believed the Argentinian striker would become the guy to turn defeats into draws and draws into wins.
Over the following months Milito scored the league-winning goal, the Coppa winning goal and both Champions League Final-winning goals.
Another Diego, Costa, has the potential to replicate all that and in my view it’s telling that Mourinho recently revealed he’s known for months [just like with Milito] that the 25-year-old striker was secured.
“All last season we wanted him and we decided to wait until now because we were very focussed on having Diego Costa.”
In summer 2009 Mourinho enquired about buying Daniel Van Buyten or Breno from Bayern and was shocked to be able to sign World Cup winner Lucio. He bit their hand off and it was a triumph.
Welcome to Premier League Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, and Thibaut Courtois! pic.twitter.com/hU9jf02Prh
— TheChelsQuotes (@TheChelsQuotes) August 13, 2014
Let’s talk about Cesc, baby
This time he admits he was very surprised that World Cup winning Cesc Fabregas would leave Barcelona, and now the Catalan will goals, assists and vast experience to Chelsea’s midfield.
“A fantastic midfielder who can modify how we play and addd a next dimension to our play” is Mourinho’s assessment.
Another part midfielder/part striker just like Wesley Sneijder became for Inter in Mourinho’s glorious summer of 2009 also plucked from Spain – Real Madrid in Sneijder’s case.
The Dutchman debuted in [without a training session] in a 4-0 win over Milan and scored crucial goals, including the one against Barcelona which put Inter in the Champions League final. Bet on Fabregas to produce the same impact.
In 2009 Mourinho had one season of learning under his belt, drove all the signings and sales … and Inter stormed to the treble by May 2010.
In 2014 all the signs are that he’s produced similar quality work.
And while the treble may be a big ask becoming champions of England should not be.