No-one can argue that Jose Mourinho is the main reason behind Chelsea’s current reputation in the Premier League and Europe. Before the 'Special One' arrived, the Blues were just another club in the Premier League who were very mediocre as they hadn’t won any major silverware since 1955.
There were of course the odd FA Cup and League Cup wins here and there but the Blues had failed to dominate the Premier League. Chelsea’s progress began to change after Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich took over the club from Ken Bates in the summer of 2003.
During Abramovich’s first year, Claudio Ranieri guided the club to a second-place finish in the Premier League behind Arsenal, who finished the season without losing a single game.
The result wasn’t good enough for the ambitious Russian so Ranieri was soon relieved of his duties and the relatively unknown Jose Mourinho was brought in following his successful spell with Porto in the previous season.
The rest as we know is history as Mourinho became the 'Special One' after helping the West London club win back-to-back Premier League titles (in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons) as well as numerous other pieces of silverware during his three-year spell at Stamford Bridge.
Although Chelsea continued winning trophies (including the Champions League and Europa League) after Mourinho’s departure in 2007, the Blues seemed to lose their earlier glamour and the attractive style of football that was present during the Mourinho era.
Now after six long seasons and lots of silverware plus success, Mourinho made his way back to Stamford Bridge to take charge of the Blues for a second time. However, the Premier League had changed and Mourinho found it difficult to make an immediate impact.
Despite the Blues currently occupying second position in the Premier League, they have not been looking strong as they were back in 2004. This may be due to the fact that the Premier League itself has become more difficult, with teams such as Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Southampton emerging as the new competitors.
The main difference between the current Chelsea squad and the team in 2004 is that the former lacks consistency. Although the squad back then did not score many goals, they were very strong at the back, conceding only 15, 22, and 24 goals in the 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons respectively.
The backline - consisting of William Gallas, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry and Asier Del Horno - was very strong and rarely made any mistakes or gave easy goals away. Although the Blues have only conceded eight goals in the Premier League so far this season, Chelsea have not been very solid at the back.
This may be due to Mourinho’s regular rotation of the squad. Only Branislav Ivanovic (right-back) has been starting regularly for the Blues this season. Other defenders including David Luiz, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole and César Azpilicueta have been constantly rotated.
The main problem with Chelsea over the last couple of seasons has been the lack of a quality striker. During Mourinho’s first spell, Didier Drogba led the attack and he was always consistent, scoring around 15-20 goals per season.
Now after his departure, Fernando Torres was given the responsibility of scoring goals but failed to find consistency. The Blues then bought Demba Ba in the last season but even he failed to find regular goals. Finally this season Chelsea brought in Samuel Eto’o but even he seemed to have lost his touch.
However, the striker trio seem to be improving of late as they have managed to find the net in the last couple of games. Hopefully they will improve as the season progresses.
Chelsea's midfield region is probably the strongest it had ever been, with there being many talented players including Oscar, Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle, Willian, Ramires, Frank Lampard and Nemanja Matic. They have probably been the most consistent as they have been able to provide regular goals and assists for the Blues.
Although the current Chelsea may not be as strong as it was during Mourinho’s first spell, the Blues still have lots of time to improve and prove themselves as the season has a way to go.
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