With training starting this week, Jose arrives at Cobham in earnest. First on his list is dealing with our strike force, which in an era of nuclear weapons is about as effective as a Gattling gun. After a promising start Demba Ba has faded away and, in the Matthew Harding Lower tier, doubts remain over whether Torres can really cut it in the big games against world class defenders.
What option Jose opts for is anybody’s guess, but a big striker in the mould of a Lewandowski would fit the bill. Certainly we can see more of Lukaku this season, a player with plenty of years ahead of him if he wants to emulate Drogba. Don’t forget that Didier was 26 when he arrived at the Bridge and in his first season was average at best. Lukaku’s barely twenty and he’s been banging them in for a lower table side (17 Premiership goals and four assists).
Schurrle is a solid addition. Our contacts in Berlin suggest that he has a bit of the ‘Jimmy Floyds’ about him, with a shot that can peel off a tart’s makeup at 100 yards. When CFCnet enquired why Dortmund and Bayern haven’t snapped him up, the reply we received was that both clubs are full in the striker department. The other advantage of Schurrle is that he has pace, lots of it. In Jose’s preferred 4-3-3 system, a striker who can blast through midfield or cut in from the left is an enormous asset.
Further down the team, Jose needs to address the ‘holding position’ role and our defence. Whether he sells Mikel remains to be seen but a freshening up would suit both parties. The big question is whether Luiz can make the holding position his own? Our view is that unless Luiz sorts out his positional discipline, Jose will come down on him hard, in the same vein as Joe Cole.
What happens with Terry is anyone’s guess. Our captain’s face is slowly disappearing from Club marketing material with the latest season ticket package not even including him on its player montage. Hot on the heels of this is Makelele’s admission in his autobiography that when Jose left in 2007, Terry played a key role in ‘briefing against him’.
That fits with a Sunday Times expose in September of the same year which also argued that Terry had played his part in Mourinho’s downfall. The article suggested that during season 2006/7 Terry had been forced to play while injured, was rushed back too quick, and when his performances suffered, Mourinho blamed him rather than appreciate his willingness to play through the pain barrier. This account tallies with Makelele’s. Put simply, Terry was pissed off with Jose and made his feelings clear to Roman.
It looks like Terry and Mourinho have made up over the years but, in any event, Terry’s dressing room power has seriously diminished. He’s no longer the force he was, on and off the pitch, although in this writer’s eyes he remains the best defender we’ve ever had. To cut to the chase, Terry won’t win any power struggle now and he’ll have to remain 100% loyal to Jose to have any future at the Club.
As an aside, at Cobham training ground in late April, David Luiz told CFCnet and other fans present that whilst he respected the old guard, every era has its heroes. It was a telling point, made under the nose of Steve Atkins (Chelsea’s Head of Comms), and he made it clear that whilst the old guard were respected they weren’t revered. As far as Luiz was concerned, he was the new generation and just as important as any player before him.
Finally, Jose has to think carefully how he sets up the team. Whilst winning is a prerogative, a more swashbuckling style wouldn’t go amiss. Di Matteo, before he was sacked, tried to do this and the fans were behind him 100% despite losing a number of games. Only Roman lost patience.
That’s a far cry from 2007, when the end of Jose’s reign saw the ground only half full for our match against Rosenborg. Critics might argue that the ticket prices were high, but that’s only half the story. The other half is that many fans hated Jose’s football. In fact I knew one fan who used to go home when we were one nil up because he knew we wouldn’t lose and wouldn’t score another. Chelsea fans love unpredictability. Jose would do well to remember that.
But that aside, welcome back ‘oh conquering hero’. You’ve been missed, sorely missed.