More often than not, Jose Mourinho makes the right decisions when at the helm of a club.
Whether it’s transfer dealings, pre-match announcements or simply his infamous mind-games with opposition managers, he has a way of handling his business in a manner which rarely yields disappointment.
This summer, I think it’s fairly reasonable to say, he faces one of the toughest decisions of his managerial career yet; who will he install as Chelsea’s No.1 for next season. With Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech both vying for the place between the sticks at Stamford Bridge - and both now ranked amongst the most competent stoppers in the world - it’s a conundrum that few managers would gladly welcome.
Sure, it means that Chelsea have on paper arguably the best reserve goalkeeper in the world, regardless of who is the first-choice, but it’s also pretty much guaranteed that they will lose whichever man it is who falls into second-place.
For his part Courtois isn’t going to make a heroic return to west London, having spent three successful years honing his skills at Atletico Madrid, only to be told that he is effectively in the same position he was before he left. The young Belgian has proved time and time again that he is capable of delivering on the biggest stages, and with a host of top clubs monitoring the situation, he knows he’s not without his suitors should he be given the Stamford Bridge snub.
However, there isn’t a scenario wherein he could be up against a sterner competitor for his position, unless perhaps he was fighting Manuel Neuer for his Bayern Munich spot.
That’s because on his day Petr Cech is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. The likes of David de Gea and Joe Hart have at times threatened his dominance in recent months, but there is no other who can boast the same level of experience as the Czech international.
Having been a mainstay in the Chelsea squad since 2004, the long-serving No.1 has seen and done it all, and by all accounts hasn’t done too badly. There’s arguments to be made concerning the occasional lapse in concentration, but what goalkeeper doesn’t spill a ball or mistime a bounce every once in a while?
The undeniable truth, at least in my eyes, is that Cech still has his best years ahead of him, so long as Mourinho gives him the chance. Many experts would have you believe that goalkeepers enjoy their peak when at the back end of their career, and the likes of Edwin van der Sar, and Gianluigi Buffon lend substantial strength to that particular argument.
Then there’s the matter of loyalty. As previously highlighted, Cech has been a key player for the Blues for the better part of a decade. Whereas plenty of stars have passed in and out of Stamford Bridge either at the beginnings or ends of their respective careers, the former Lens man has never even been rumoured to have toyed with the idea of moving.
Courtois may offer youth and the promise of a career which may be double that of Cech’s remaining years at the top, but there can simply be no substitute for experience. Mourinho must place his faith in the tried and tested Cech, and leave his younger apprentice to his own devices.