Roman Abramovich had finally given the Chelsea fans what they wanted by the return of the ‘Special one’. With the pre-season going by decently and the arrivals of Andre Schurrle, Willian, Mark Schwarzer, Marco Van Ginkel and Samuel Eto’o excited the passionate supporters of the West London side to look forward to a successful season and a long reign under Jose Mourinho. Schurrle had been rumoured to be on the move and with his pace, strength, and his powerful shot; it was always an inevitable move for the blues. Willian fit into the style of an advanced playmaker with a Brazilian twist who has the stamina to run all day and who could pick out the pass and finish them as well, an obvious target for Jose’s style of play. Schwarzer, a humble Aussie keeper bought from Chelsea’s west-London rivals, Fulham, was a decent signing after the departure of the shaky keeper in Ross Turnbull. Little was known about the 8 million quid flying Dutchman brought over from Chelsea’s go-to club for loans: Vitesse Arnhem. Eto’o, a footballing legend known for his magical days with FC Barcelona was a surprise move to some but could prove to be a great asset for a Chelsea side known for the inconsistency of their forwards.
Verdict: Initially, I was relatively happy with Chelsea’s signings in the summer of 2013. With Schurrle, Willian arriving and De Bruyne coming back from a loan in Germany, Chelsea would finally have the perfect balance of creativity, flair, and direct attacking play from the advanced midfielders. By the end of the 12/13 season, like any pundit or spectator that had any knowledge of the game, would say that Chelsea needed a World-Class presence up front that could bag at least 20 goals a season. Nobody expected Eto’o to get anywhere near that. The fact that he put away nine goals this season (against top club as well) is a miracle of it’s own.
August-December As was expected with the return of Jose, the Chelsea defense (an area which has not been the strongest over the years) finally tightened up with consistent performances from the ruthless pair of John Terry and Gary Cahill. During the period, Chelsea were always contesting and in the picture to be the 2013/14 Premier League champions. Results such as the dominant and prolific performance away to Schalke 04 in the Champions League group stage and the well deserved 2-0 win vs. Arsenal in the away League Cup draw suggested that Chelsea could finally play to their ability with a well organised back four to rely on. Other fixtures such as the 2-0 loss to Newcastle and the 2-2 draw to West Brom exemplified a team with no determination, no hunger and a lack of a ‘plan B’ when the attractive counter-attacking football doesn’t fall in their favour.
January Transfer Window The long anticipated transfer of the fans’ Player of the Year for two years running was finally completed. Jose made it very clear that he was not his type of player. He is undoubtedly a player with countless flaws: he is quite slow, weak, struggles to adapt to new positions, does not track back and only seems to use his gifted left foot. However Mata, being one of the most gifted players in modern football could read the game like no other player at the club and could create goal scoring opportunity from nothing at all. (Which the blues proved to lack especially in the later part of the season) Jose’s arrogancy and advocacy to his playing philosophy has frankly let the club and the fans down by pushing the 38 million pound transfer to Manchester United. Chelsea had long needed a reliable ball – winning defensive midfield player who could boss the game and it seems that Jose has got it spot on with the 21 million pound signing of former Chelsea player: Nemanja Matic.
Although a ridiculous fee for a player who served as a small addition to the David Luiz deal back in 2010, it proved to be a great investment for a single player who could contribute to the change in Chelsea’s game in the second half of the season. Chelsea’s 8 million quid deadline day signing of Kurt Zouma meant that the 17 year-old Frenchman would stay at St. Etienne for the rest of the season. Zouma is now a well heard of defender who is known to be one of the youngest and hottest prospects in the Football world. 21 Year-old Egyptian winger was also signed on the 31st after the FC Basel agreed a fee of around 11 million quid with the West Londoners.
Verdict: Although I had still followed my initial beliefs that the club needed a top class striker up front, it seems like Chelsea pulled off one of the most successful January Transfer Windows in history. As I had previously stated, Mata is a huge loss for the London club, however 38 million is not a bad sum for a player who had not adapted to the manager’s style of play and therefore offered to other clubs. Matic was a much needed signing for the Blues.
Since Claude Makelele, Chelsea lacked a presence in the defensive end of the midfield who also has a great intelligence of the game and has the capability to pick out a pass from almost anywhere on the pitch. Both Salah and Zouma show great talent of the game and have the potential to be the world’s best in their respective positions, however I will only be guessing if I stated that the two will have a big impact and a successful career at the London club.
January-May Chelsea continued with their impressive showings against the top clubs in the division such as their 1-0 workmanlike performance away to Manchester City and the home victory against a prolific Liverpool side marked such a drastic change in tactics from the Portuguese manager that proved to work. It was in fact against the lesser clubs that cost Chelsea their title hopes and also presented their issues of having a strong determination to win with a striker that could tilt the odds in Chelsea’s favour when matches are not falling their way.
My Final Verdict: Overall, Chelsea fans would agree that the 2013/14 season was a slightly disappointing one. With the ‘special one’ returning to his beloved club, expectations were naturally set to win all possible trophies. As a Chelsea and Football fan, I found myself disappointed with the manner of Chelsea’s performances especially in the latter part of the season, instead of the absence of trophies in the cabinet.
I would have loved it if Chelsea could’ve pulled the Champions League or the Premier League trophy but I would still feel a bit of a dissatisfaction if Chelsea had won with similar performances to the Liverpool away fixture and the first leg of the semi final of the Champions League against Atletico de Madrid. We could infer that in the eyes of Mourinho, it wouldn’t have been possible for a Chelsea side that is lacking a prolific man up front with fatigued and injured players from arguably the stars of the team to even compete with Chelsea’s main objectives.
However, these are not the sort of matches deserved to be watched by any football fan (especially one with a 60 pound price tag). As Jose had previously stated, this 2013/14 season was a transitional one where the Portuguese manager could implement his ideas and signings for seasons to come. (But who really believes that?)