There really isn’t much Jose Mourinho has to fret about as we head towards the end of the calendar year.
His summer imports have settled in as well as any player in the league, he has a squad so packed with world-class talent that fine players are routinely forced to warm the bench, and of course there’s the small matter of the Blues sitting dominant at the top of the table, still unbeaten.
It’s fair to assume that Mourinho has had more trying times in his career. He’s the envy of managers up and down the country, regardless of the fact that it would have been his head on the chopping block had things not transpired to go as well as they have done.
A trophy-less campaign last term was uncharacteristically disappointing for The Special One, and rumours that Roman Abramovich wouldn’t tolerate another barren season weren’t nearly as subtle as Mourinho might have hoped.
Nevertheless the aims for this term are on course to be achieved, and on current form there’s not much Mourinho could do to derail his Blues juggernaut, short of deliberately picking weakened teams week after week.
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That being said there remains a quandary which is slowly creeping to the forefront of the picture at Stamford Bridge with the January transfer window looming large, and it’s one the Chelsea boss needs to address sooner rather than later if he wants to maintain the ostensibly perfect equilibrium registered in his camp.
We’ve already mentioned the fact that Mourinho has enough options at his disposal to comfortably leave players that would walk into most sides on the bench, but where does ‘enough options’ become too many options?
In my book it’s when the size of the squad threatens to offer headaches that can’t simply be cured by occasionally throwing someone on as a substitute.
Clearing the deadwood
If nothing else Mourinho needs to conduct a clear-out similar to the one Manchester United were expected to undertake in the summer. There’s no financial incentive in doing so, and it’s not necessarily a make or break element, but getting rid of those who aren’t essential to Chelsea’s drive towards the title could be of great benefit.
Having a bench of high-profile players not in line to be given regular chances is all well and good on paper, but it rarely lends itself to squad harmony, and before too long the individuals being starved of game-time can become a thorn in the side of any manager.
It’s for this reason that the departure of Andre Schurrle might not be a bad thing, despite the fact that he’s proven himself immensely capable of dealing with the pressures of thriving in a title-contending outfit.
His game-time this year has suffered as a result of the incredible form of both Oscar and Eden Hazard, and it’s looking increasingly likely that Willian also has a better chance of being given the nod than he does.
Rumour has it that both Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 are keeping tabs on the situation, with both clubs having something to offer Chelsea should their interest peak whilst the window is open.
Jurgen Klopp has the highly sought-after Marco Reus resting as his trump card, and Roberto Di Matteo could use Julian Draxler as a bargaining pawn if push comes to shove.
Then there are also players like John Obi Mikel and Mohamed Salah, who sit so far into the obscure margins of Mourinho’s play-book that it’s a surprise when they are given the nod. Where the former is concerned the less said about him realising his potential in west London the better, and the latter looks destined for a similar track.
It’s controversial, and it has hardly hit desperation point just yet, but Mourinho’s Chelsea could do with a tidy-up, and there’s no better time to instigate it than the present.