Jose Mourinho gives his first press conference to the associated media on Monday afternoon when he will be officially unveiled as Chelsea’s new manager. The fact the he is also Chelsea’s old manager certainly gives him a starting advantage amongst the other new summer arrivals at the helm of rival clubs. Mourinho knows the club and the league inside out and has his coaching staff ready in place to start work immediately. So what will his priorities be when it comes to the playing staff and what should be his key considerations?
Clear out the deadwood
The turnover of playing staff and pruning of the squad has already begun. Given that Frank Lampard so recently signed an extension it is safe to presume the new boss had the final say. New contracts have not been offered to Florent Malouda, Yossi Benayoun, Ross Turnbull, Hilario and Paulo Ferreria, and all will leave the club as free agents this summer. Few would begrudge an uncomplicated move given the contributions to the club by this group of players. Similar to last season it’s also a savvy way of reducing our wage bill to allow for new recruits and stay within the limits of financial fair play. Malouda and Ferreira arrived as big money signings and high earners, as was Benayoun who arrived on a free and accordingly was also able to negotiate a top wage. With a few big salaries now gone it leaves the club with more leeway to negotiate attractive deals for new recruits whilst trying to balance the books.
Give youth a chance?
I think one of Jose’s first conversations on the recruitment side might well have been with his old backroom colleague Neil Bath. Neil is the academy manager and holds responsibility for youth development across all the age groups. The academy has been working hard over the intervening years to establish a youth product into the first eleven and it would make sense to enquire who might be pushing for a place the hardest. After fine seasons in the championship Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah will be staking strong claims for squad numbers. Similarly rave reviews for Tomáš Kalas at Vitesse should see him under serious consideration as an ideal back-up in defence. Excellent cameos from Nathan Ake and Lucas Paizon last season should also see them pushing for more minutes under Mourinho. Expect the coach to analyse the best of the academy before committing to the transfer market.
Time for a recall?
As well as top performances from our youth products out on loan we have a number of transfer signings farmed out. The standout performer was no doubt Romelu Lukaku who had a superb season at West Brom, his seventeen goals in the premier league more than any Chelsea player. and Thibaut Courtois continue to excel at Athletico Madrid, playing a key role in their Copa del Rey victory against Mourinho’s Real with a string of brilliant saves. With Cech still at his best though it will be interesting to see if next season sees him loaned for a third successive season. Meanwhile Kevin De Bruyne’s performances at Werder Bremen saw him star in the German top flight scoring an impressive ten goals and playing well in a number of midfield positions. All three have proved there are ready for the Chelsea first team, the question is whether it is next season or they allowed another loan to develop further before joining the ranks full time.
Marquee signing on the cards?
Rumours persist around Cavani, Hulk and Fellaini to name but a few but each would bring with them a hefty price-tag and a hefty wage to factor into the budget. The protracted move for promising German international André Schürrle would be in line with club’s more recent policy of signing younger talent and also points to us strengthening our attacking options. A big name signing would excite the supporters but might also cast doubt on the future of other players, no question some will have a fight on their hands to stay in the team if a marquee signing arrives. Given the restrictions of the financial fair play can Chelsea afford to spend big this summer? Or given Man City’s swift transfer business already can they afford not to if they want win the league title? Mourinho will have to weigh up the squad and the market before making a move for any players who can make the difference.