The past ten years for Chelsea Football Club has been the most glorious period in its entire history. Since taking over as the owner of the club, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has invested hundreds of millions to make Chelsea not only one richest football clubs in the world but also one of the most successful in recent times as well.
Therefore the expectations were very high for Jose Mourinho, who arrived at the club last season for a second stint as the manager, to replicate the success from his previous spell. And even though the Blues had made a quieter start in comparison with Manchester City and Arsenal, it remained in contention for the title until the turn of the year. But a string of inconsistent performances during the second-half of the season especially against some of the smaller teams saw Chelsea’s title challenge ebb away at the mercy of Manchester City and Liverpool. Despite winning all their games against these two sides, Chelsea failed to finish ahead of them and had to be satisfied with a third-place finish.
Chelsea’s unimposing performances last season had clearly exposed the two key areas which Mourinho needed to tackle with immediate effect. Firstly the goal-scoring situation needed addressing as no team can win the league with a forward-line that scores half as many goals as their midfielders. Secondly, there were far too many ageing players in the squad, quite a few of whom like Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry were survivors from Mourinho’s first spell in charge.
These two inconveniences notwithstanding, the first bit of business Mourinho conducted was the sale of Brazilian defender David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain for a whopping £40 million before the World Cup had even kicked off. It left Mourinho and his staff with plenty of time and money to lock down on their prime targets during the off-season transfer window.
Cesc Fabregas was Chelsea’s first major signing of the summer. The Spanish international’s homecoming at Barcelona did not materialise the way he had hoped and after three frustrating years in Cataluña the former Arsenal midfielder chose to return to the Premier League when Chelsea came calling with a £30 million offer.
Chelsea then made a £32 million move for Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, who was last season’s top goal-scorer for the La Liga champions while his teammate Felipe Luis who too impressed in his left-back role, also completed a £12 million switch to Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who was loaned out to Atletico for the past three years has also been asked to call time on his spell at the Spanish capital and return to his parent club as the deputy to Petr Cech.
Despite these key transfers, the one that made biggest headlines was undoubtedly the return of Didier Drogba to the club where he became a legend. At the age of 36, Drogba is definitely in the twilight of career; nevertheless he is still capable of producing the spectacular. There has also been some talk of him being groomed for a coaching role in the future. Therefore, it will be interesting to see as to what kind of role he plays for the team.
Amongst the players to exit the club during the summer, Frank Lampard is certainly the one who stands out. Lampard was a key component of Chelsea’s success in the past ten years and a huge favourite amongst the fans. Last season he immortalised his name in the history when he became the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer. Yet his contract was not renewed, allowing him to join Major League Soccer side New York City FC on a free transfer. However, Lampard may yet feature in the Premier League this season after Manchester City arranged a somewhat controversial six month loan-deal for the midfielder.
Ashley Cole is another big name to exit Stamford Bridge this summer. The England left-back had fallen down the pecking order last season and his contract too was not renewed. The former Arsenal man has since joined Italian side AS Roma on a free transfer. On the other hand, Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku has also been allowed to leave the club despite enjoying another successful loan-spell in the Premier League. He has moved to Everton on a permanent basis for a club-record transfer worth £28 million after netting 15 times in 31 games for the Toffees in the previous campaign.
Over the past 12 months Jose Mourinho has steered his team through a transitional. Now he isin possession of a younger and perhaps more talented squad of players who are hungrier for success. Also the players that he has brought in during the summer will help mould the team to the way that suits his tactics better. There is no doubt that Chelsea will start as the top favourites to capture the league title this season and it will be quite shocking if they fail to mount any lasting challenge.