Mourinho not over-reliant on 'old guard' anymore

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The best managers change with the times.

Sir Alex Ferguson was a master at this particular art, and Arsene Wenger seems to be finally grasping the concept as well.

This is also something apparent at Chelsea, as Jose Mourinho seems to have adapted his methods to reflect the differing football climate now apparent in England compared to his previous stint in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Of course, the team that he guided to successive Premier League titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06 was a formidable one. Back then, he relied too heavily on the spine of the team, notably Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry.

The three English stalwarts were much younger back then, but now, he tends to use the exciting young prospects of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Gary Cahill as much as the 'old-guard' - a sure sign that Mourinho himself is changing with the times.

That being said, Lampard is still a prominent figure in the starting line-up but it seems now his role is to protect and help develop the youngsters around him. They can at last function without the great midfielder.

Terry's position too is one that is no longer impenetrable. In recent years, he has been the mainstay at the heart of Chelsea's defence and in Mourinho's first spell in carge at Stamford Bridge he would be guaranteed a start almost every week.

Granted they have been included a great deal lately as the Portuguese manager sought to bounce back following a shaky start, although it remains to be seen how long he will keep using the aging trio.

Of the three, Ashley Cole has been the main victim of late having not appeared since the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Newcastle in early November.

Mourinho dropping him shows sentimentality doesn't play a part in his complex managerial mind. It is up to the 32-year old to prove his worth to his manager once more.

If the ex-Real Madrid boss can continue to use his experienced players in such a calculated and clever vein, Terry, Lampard and even Cole may prove to be the catalyst to more Mourinho success in the Premier League.

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Premier League
Ashley Cole
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