Judging from his activity in the transfer market so far, Jose Mourinho is all too aware what cost Chelsea the Premier League title last season.
Take nothing away from Manuel Pellegrini’s rampant Manchester City side, nor anything from close runners up Liverpool, but there’s a good many Blues fans that would argue it was Chelsea’s flaws, more than their opponents’ dominance, which ultimately saw the English crown head elsewhere. For lack of a better term the absence of a prolific striker shot Mourinho square in the foot.
Though the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Andre Schurrle made an admirable effort at ensuring Chelsea scored just as many goals as their biggest rivals, there was in the end simply no way to get around the barren form of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba.
The trio finished the 2013/14 campaign on a poultry 19 goals between them domestically and, though Mourinho remained faithful with varying combinations until the end, it cost him dearly.
The decision on Lukaku
Stamford Bridge supporters up and down the country bemoaned the decision to relieve the club of Romelu Lukaku's services on loan and, as the Belgian continued to pillage defences on a routine basis, there was more than one call to see him given his big break at Chelsea for the forthcoming season. Yet, as has been proven in the past, Mourinho has never been one to conform rigidly to the general consensus.
The Special One has instead decided to make Lukaku’s west London hiatus a permanent one, and the 21-year-old forward will be calling Everton home from here on in.
Of course there has been major changes made to the attacking line-up at Stamford Bridge, with only one of last season’s three-pronged attack still trusted - albeit barely - to do the job.
Both Ba and Eto’o were ushered out the exit door with little fanfare, Ba heading to Besiktas and Eto’o the free agency market, whilst Torres will yet again approach the coming campaign with the intentions of proving to the Chelsea faithful that the £50million spent on him wasn’t a complete waste of money. The Spaniard will compete for a starting berth with both Diego Costa and Didier Drogba, as Mourinho appears to have taken the unconventional route in blending a bang in-form hit-man with an arguably over-the-hill icon.
The need for another striker
Now, whilst I’m far from qualified to be questioning Mourinho’s judgement when it comes to who leads his frontline, it seems from the outside looking in as though the 51-year-old is in danger of leaving Chelsea ill-equipped once more with regards to their goal scoring capabilities. If the Blues are to outgun the likes of City and Liverpool - as well as a Manchester United who will undoubtedly be resurgent this term - then they’ll need two strikers who are regularly firing on all cylinders.
Presuming Costa fits seamlessly into English football and immediately produces the sort of clinical displays his La Liga career became famous for, Mourinho still needs a supporting act.
At the very most Drogba will be able to perform in a cameo role, occasionally coming on to be a thorn in the sides of fatigued defenders. Despite what his manager says he has to be considered as being some way off the sort of level he was when he left the club at the end of his first stint.
As for Torres, gone are the days when he commanded the respect and fear of opposition back lines week in week out, and Mourinho’s vote of confidence - delivered last week in a bid to quell the talk of an imminent exit for the Spain international - served more to surprise fans than alleviate their woes.
Mourinho has to act
In the long-run, just as Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge proved for Liverpool last term and Man City’s array of forwards did for them, it will take the combined efforts of a well-oiled attacking machine to deliver Chelsea the Premier League.
Mourinho made a bold move in letting Lukaku leave the club, but even he must realise that he can’t expect success without adequately replacing him.