The return of José Mourinho to Chelsea earlier this season created, on the supporters, an immense sense of satisfaction and renewed hopes concerning the future of the club that was constantly changing their leading man quite more often than they should have since 2011. Nevertheless, the team’s first matches at the English Premier League, together with some poor results and unconvincing performances at UEFA Champions League, left supporters somewhat intrigued and all that glow surrounding Mourinho’s heroic return to Chelsea suddenly faded away.
The Blues started this campaign with a shy performance against Hull City and conceded their first defeat at Goodison Park on round four against a well organized and bold Everton side. On their first ten matches, Chelsea lost twice and Mourinho’s honeymoon time with the London side quickly turned into a nightmare with the media constantly claiming that the Portuguese manager had lost his “magical touch” and that he was not that “special” anymore.
José Mourinho, however, remained calm and fully focused on the slow transformation he was operating at the Blues. The Portuguese boss implemented a new tactical scheme at Chelsea this term, a soft mixture of two different tactics, 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. The key to that tactical approach’s success is the midfield line triangle, which consists of two men in front of the defence line, one with defensive duties, the other one as a deep lying playmaker and at the top of that triangle another man, usually Oscar, with the task of carrying the ball up front and feed the team’s attacking players.
Mourinho experimented this tactical approach at Real Madrid; however, he never seemed to obtain the same level of consistency he has managed to achieve with Chelsea so far this term. The arrival of the powerful Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic from SL Benfica last January offered the Portuguese boss the solution he needed to improve his midfield line’s performance. The team only lost once during the ten appearances of the Serbian at the English Premier League so far this season (at Birmingham, against Aston Villa, on what probably was one of Chelsea’s worst performances in the current campaign). Matic improved Chelsea’s defensive effectiveness and the Blues only conceded 4 goals in the matches he played.
José Mourinho does not privilege possession football and he often opts for a more direct approach and English football offered him an excellent background to put his plans into practice. Chelsea’s football might not be so pleasing as, for example the short passing style Wenger implemented at Arsenal, but it is tremendously effective as one can easily observe from the clash between both team last weekend.
After the media and pundits questioned Mourinho’s managerial skills following his disappointing last year at Real Madrid, and his slow start with the Blues, the Portuguese manager has managed to prove everyone that he had a meticulously defined plan since the very beginning and that he can once again lead Chelsea to achieve great things, both at domestic and international competitions.