In the weeks leading up to this season, many questions were being asked of “The Special One” and his return to England. The burning uncertainty was whether or not Jose Mourinho continued to possess the special qualities he first brought to Stamford Bridge. However, as we are more than half way through this premier league season, Mourinho’s magic seems to be working better than ever. In arguably the most competitive Premier League season of recent memory, Mourinho has Chelsea sitting atop the Premier League summit ahead of big boys Arsenal, Manchester City, and Liverpool.
Upon departing for Napoli, Rafa Benitez left behind an aged and depleting squad. Jose knew that money had to be spent wisely on any transfers arriving at the club. Mourinho targeted players that would compete for a starting spot week in and week out, this resulted in Willian, Andre Schurrle, Samuel Eto’o, and youngster Marco van Ginkel arriving at Stamford bridge for reasonable fees. With this batch of talent Mourinho rounded out his first team and was ready for the new season.
Mourinho’s background in sports science is undeniably his most valuable tool. During his tenure with Inter Milan, he helped take a squad that was hardly a world-beater and turned them in the Italian and European champions, at Real Madrid he helped shaped Cristiano Ronaldo once again into the world’s best player, and now at Chelsea, he has his team performing at levels no one had expected prior to the season. The special one’s psychological influence on his players hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially in the case of Eden Hazard, Willian, and David Luiz.
Mourinho has instilled confidence in Hazard, after an early season misunderstanding that resulted in the Belgian not selected for the match against Shalke. Since then, Hazard has eclipsed his goal total from last season, has scored his first hat trick in the Premier League, and placed his name in the hat for PFA player of the year. Willian, on the other hand, arrived after being plucked from under Tottenham’s nose, was sluggish in his first few games, but has cemented his place on the right hand side since October. David Luiz has evolved from an error prone liability, to a reliable role player in multiple positions. It’s clear the Mourinho effect has rubbed off on this squad, can he lead the little horse to the biggest prize come season’s end?