Just over five days remain until Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea kick off their Premier League campaign against Hull City Tigers on Sunday afternoon, the atmosphere surrounding the new season is what footballers like to describe as ‘buzzin’, but can Mourinho and Chelsea live up to great expectations?
The arrival of the ‘Happy One’ has certainly transformed the feelings of the majority of supporters following the eventful interim spell of Rafael Benitez.
At times last season, heading to Stamford Bridge became a bit of a chore, now it’s the only place to be, and that is all because of one man.
Mourinho’s character and charisma is what makes him adored by supporters and players alike, and although the older (and greyer) Mourinho has calmed, the passion to win every game still remains and spreads like an infection around the club.
This summer really has been one of change, with several high earners and squad players leaving to make room for a batch of young fresh talent like Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle.
The current crop is probably the most exciting that Chelsea have had, and Mourinho is the best at getting every last drop from each of his players.
There is however, one final piece of the puzzle left to fill and that is upfront. A strike force of Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku just isn’t good enough to challenge on all fronts, and the signing of Wayne Rooney is vital for Chelsea.
Most bookmakers have Chelsea as favourites for the title, and their Premier League rivals have done little to suggest otherwise.
Manchester City have struggled to adapt to Manuel Pellegrini’s style, which has seen them concede 12 goals in pre-season, including three during their defeat to Arsenal. However with several big money signings and the experience in the side, the blue half of Manchester will be Chelsea’s biggest title challengers.
The Gunners have again failed to address any of their key areas which leaves them trailing behind the other top four clubs, and they should be seriously worried about the spending of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who look set to reject all bids for Gareth Bale.
With Sir Alex Ferguson gone, Manchester United are a difficult team to predict, no-one knows how David Moyes will fair in charge of a real big club and the transition between Premier and Champions League football, but the scoring exploits of Robin van Persie against Wigan Athletic suggest they will be there or there a bouts come May.
Having gone three years without even challenging for the Premier League title, a domestic trophy must be the clubs priority this season. Mourinho will of course say that we play to win every game in front of us, but to be Champions of England will help us become Champions of Europe again.
Expectations for Chelsea will of course be high, another Champions League success will be always be at the forefront of Roman Abramovich’s mind, but if he wants his team to be remember for their football, this must come in time.
It was written in the stars that that Chelsea team would win on that night in Munich, but the style in which Robbie Di Matteo’s did the impossible, ultimately lead to his dismissal, Di Matteo was given the job out of gratitude, which is possibly Abramovich’s worst decision as Chelsea owner.
The desire to play a certain style which is admired saw the long courtship of Pep Guardiola, who chose the side Chelsea defeat in 2012 as his next stopping point.
This decision ultimately lead to Mourinho’s return, anyone who thinks Mourinho truly was first choice is delusional. Mourinho’s knows this, but you can guarantee he will give everything to be regarded the best manager in European football, and he has the players at his disposal to do just that.
So just what can we expect from Mourinho and Chelsea this season? Well I think the Capital One Cup is a given, just like the first time around, Mourinho will want to send a message to his rivals and to his players.
Losing is not an option, winning is everything, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.
The FA Cup would be an added bonus, but not vital, the League is the main objective, and Mourinho knows how to go the distance in the Premiership, unlike Moyes and Pellegrini.
In regards to Europe, you do as you always do, give 110% and if that isn’t enough, you know you’ve been beaten by a class team. Germany’s Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will be competitive again, while Spain’s Barcelona and Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid will always be difficult opponents.
However you just never know what a Mourinho team is capable of.
The free-flowing, beautiful football that will be expected of Mourinho’s Chelsea will come in time, but the all-conquering aspect must start on Sunday.
Mourinho cracked under the pressure of La Decima in Madrid, but in familiar surroundings, the ‘Happy One’ can become Special again.
Find me on Twitter @DeanMears