Nostalgia not enough to maintain special legacy

In footballing terms Chelsea’s capture of Jose Mourinho on a 4 year deal was conducted in quick fashion. Minimal bravado, few mind games – simply the special one claiming weeks ago that he wanted to return to where he was loved. By his eccentric standards it is safe to say he is attempting to tone down.

For Chelsea fans he can do little wrong. In his tenure in charge he won consecutive Premier League titles. But since his old glory days the spine of his team has been disrupted. His once trusted captain John Terry has been reduced to the bench, Frank Lampard is more frequently used as impact sub and even Petr Cech’s place is in jeopardy this season as the highly rated Thibaut Courtois returns after impressing on loan at Atletico Madrid.  Times have changed in his absence as a crop of fresh faces have arrived. The transition started by Rafael Benitez needs to be continued by the revered manager.

This has to balanced with the important task of maintaining old relations with the old guard. John Terry and Frank Lampard can be utilised as Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are at Manchester United as leaders of the dressing room. This is vital as Chelsea’s young squad would benefit from the leadership and experience of the two club veterans.

Two of the sole survivors of Mourinho’s original Chelsea squad will have to accept lesser roles if Chelsea are to play the fluid, attractive football desired by owner Roman Abramovich.

The depth of the squad ensures that splurges in the transfer window are not necessary. The lack of striking options is no longer a problem as Romelu Lukaku returns to the club after scoring an impressive 17 goals in limited appearances for West Brom. Mourinho may instead prefer to  inspire Fernanado Torres to improve on the modest 22 goals he scored last season.

The most obvious addition would be a holding central midfielder more resourceful with the ball than Mikel. Alternatively, the new boss may slot David Luiz will into defensive midfielder allowing him to recruit another central defender.

         The current Chelsea team is capable of dominating domestically.

Much of the success of the new look Chelsea will lie on the shoulders of Eden Hazard. The Belgian has shown glimpses of brilliance at the start and end of last season, His touch, sublime skills and ability to change the game resembles the way Lionel Messi plays. If Hazard can add more goals to his game it is a comparison which can be more readily made. The no nonsense manager must afford some lee way for a player whose undeniable talent outweighs his bad temperament.

After all Mourinho himself has a questionable temperament. The manager is known as much for his tactical pedigree as he is for his press conferences; his comments often provides much needed comic relief and is often used to take the spotlight of his own players. Such comments are refreshing from the mundane answers managers usually give. The cosy relationship he has with the media can be broken by erratic behaviour which will see his reputation sour as it has in Spain. As Luiz Suarez is engineering a move away from the Premier League it is imperative Mourinho limits such controversies – If not he will become the new villain of the premier league as the media turn on him.

Scenes like this are to common when Mourinho is involved, second time round the focus has to be on the football.

Everyone is entitled to a second chance, none more so than a manager who started the cycle of success Chelsea football club has enjoyed since his first spell in 2004 . However, second time round more is expected. He must win the right way both on and off the field.

From Barca to Bayern

Pep Guardiola will rekindle his love with the game as he takes charge of Bayern Munich next season.

The Bundesliga is more competitive with Dortmund winning the league last year. However, the history books show that Bayern are by far the most successful team in Germany. They look set to reclaim their dominance this year by already holding a 9 point lead.  This begs the obvious question, why did he choose Munich?

Like Barcelona, Bayen have a rich history which would attract any top manager. The chance to mould young talents like David Alaba, Thomas Muller and Xherdan Shaqir would certainly not harm either.

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He will be hoping that he can erase the memory of Chelsea’s hijack on home turf

Whilst Munich is the safe option, he would have surely been tempted by a move from a big Premier League club? The prospect of him revamping Arsenal or bringing stability to Chelsea would surely appeal to both himself and the fans of both respective clubs?

It would be unfair to say it is because a lack of ambition as the success he has brought to Barcelona is unmatched. People are quick to forget that Barcelona were in decline when he took reigns; knocked out in the semi finals of the Champions League and finshing third in La Liga. He managed to turn this around by winning the treble in his first season, moving on the old guard including Deco and Ronaldinho. This was a brave move which allowed a certain Lionel Messi to rapidly come of age. The Argentinian, along with teammates are the Nou Camp produced footballing theatre which saw them held by many as the greatest team ever.

The logic behind his choice could be that he simply wanted a club which afforded him full control. The press is already stating that he will be granted a vast kitty to bring in some fresh blood. This suggests that he will be left to his own device to manage the club in the way he sees best fit. A luxury which is nowadays a rarity in football

More importantly is the fact that Guardiola is a man of vision; because of this vision he will patiently await the eventual retirement of a certain Scotsmen in Manchester . The perfect plan for footballs perfect man.

The effect the African Cup of Nations has on your Premier League club?

In just 9 days the 29th African Cups of Nations will be underway. A number of Premier League clubs will have to rely on the strength of their squad or risk overspending in the January transfer window.

Who will be hit hardest?

Chelsea - The blues will lose both John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses to Nigeria. Mikel is the only established holding midfielder that Chelsea has. The transformation of David Luiz to defensive midfield was pre-mediated by the pragmatic Bentiez to address the loss of Mikel. Time will tell if Luiz can flourish in the role, early indications shows that he will. The absence of Moses is not likely to be felt as the blues have brought in a more direct goal threat in Demba Ba.

Newcastle - Cheick Tiote will be solely missed by the Toon. The tough tacklers inclusion in the Ivory Coast squad could result in panic buys, as the northern clubs string of bad results means they cannot afford to lose a key player. Fortunately for Newcastle, Shola Ameobi rejected the chance to represent Nigeria and Papa Cisse’s Senegal failed to qualify.

Manchester City –  Yaya Toure is the driving force of the Manchester midfield and is arguably the best box to box midfielder in the world. His performances this current campaign has been lackluster in comparison to his performances last season which were instrumental in City’s league triumph. Nevertheless, his ability to impose himself on a game will be heavily missed by City.

Safe to say one Toure will be missed more than the other?

Wigan - Arouna Koné’s goals and physicality will be missed as Wigan once again battle for their place in the top flight. His form once he returns will be vital in ensuring the Latic’s survive once again.

Tottenham - Emmanuel Adebayor decision to go with Togo to the African Cup of Nations has resulted in Tottenham renewing their interest in long term target Leandro Damiao. Comparable to Adebayor as he is a targert man, with the added bonus of being more technically gifted. His price may rule spurs out, leaving the club in desperate need of another frontman to lead the line.

Who has escaped?

Fulham – Martin Jol midfielder enforcer Mahamadou Diarra is injured meaning Mali will have to better their previous effort of third place without him.

Everton – Steven Pienaar has retired from international duty after captaining host nations South Africa in the 2010 World Cup. Everton have a talented team but lack the depth needed to rotate their squad. Therefore Pienaar staying will be critical for Everton’s pursuit for Champions League football.

Norwich - A honourable mention must go to Sebastian Bassong who has been a revelation for Norwich. Chris Hughton will count himselve lucky that Cameroon failed to qualify.

QPR - Adel Taarabt was not called up to Morocco meaning QPR will still have the creative playmaker who could ignite their season.

Can Taarabt have a similar effect to Carlos Tevez at West ham who single handly salavged their season in 2007?

West ham - Striker Marouane Chamkha has also been excluded from the Morocco squad. In truth his inclusion would have made little difference as he was brought in as cover and is below Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Têz in the pecking order.

Arsenal - Gervinho’s absence will be welcomed due to his poor goal scoring record this season. Walcott looks set to pen to paper and a sign a new bumper contract which will overshadow the loss of the Ivory Coast striker.

The year of El Nino

Anything but a kid, the Spanish strikers successful 2012 can be proven by the word made laughable by new boss Rafa Benitez – fact. To borrow from the ever charismatic manager let’s look at the following facts of the forward:

• Won both the Champions league 2012 and Euro 2012

• Winner of the Golden Boot in Euros scoring 3 goals(in which he started in only two games)

• Holds record for being the only player to score in two Euro finals(Euro 2008 and Euro 2012)

The most decorated player of the year failed to make the Guardian’s 100 best footballers of the year. The omission was offensive considering a number of relatively unheard of names made the list

His contribution to Spain was vital in them retaining the Euros. The team made famous the false 9 forcing Torres to make vital contributions from the bench by scoring and creating with the limited game time he was afforded. His spell at Chelsea has been less glamorous as he has failed to rack up the goals needed to justify being the premier leagues most expensive player. His lack of desire is not the issue shown by his willingness to chases balls and hound defenders. This urgency to impress has to often be his Achilles heels, compromising his natural game which is to finish chances in the final third.

It is noticeable that he does not have the same pace and power he once possessed. The memory of him explosively outmuscling Ben Haim to open up his account with Liverpool demonstrates the difference between current Torres and Torres of old. Injuries and time has been his enemy affecting his game and making him less impactful. Under no illusion has he rekindled the kind of form which has made him a kop legend.

Glimpses of his old self have been shown sporadically at his time with the blues including his hatrick against QPR. His precision, calmness and confidence in front of goal shows that his lack of pace can be compensated for by his intelligent movement. His stuttering performances over the course of the year were overlooked by the Chelsea faithful when he ran half the length of the pitch at the Nou Camp to score and secure Chelsea’s place in the Champions League final. Not the most certain of goals, but nevertheless he delivered when was needed. An attribute sought by any world class player.

The style of play of the new look Chelsea benefits the striker as the club now play the tika-taka type of football he is familiar with at Spain. Even at Liverpool he had the likes of the dynamic Steven Gerard whose runs created space and Xaxi Alonso whose range of passing cut open teams regularly. Chelsea now has similar creative technicians in Hazard, Oscar and Mata who have the imagination and vision to provide the service. Averaging practically a goal a game the Spaniards 2012/13 campaigns looks more successful for him as a goal scorer. If this form continues the stigma attached to the £50 Million striker will be forgotten, removing the pressure and allowing him to play with freedom.

The void left by Drogba is impossible to fufill. The man rightfully voted by the fans as Chelsea greatest ever player is deserving of the accolade considering his numerous heroics in finals and key games. Equally undisputable is the fact that Torres has benefited from not sharing the limelight with his predecessor and can now thrive as the focal point of the team. As the year draws to a close Torres can hold his head up high knowing that decades from now he will only remember the collective triumph which saw 2012 as his most successful year. As a result of his most accomplished season he now has one of the most impressive footballing careers of any modern footballer. Spain’s squad is full of a never ending array of talent while Chelsea have a promising young side. Torres may have peaked early but the ability he still holds combined with the talent which surrounds him mean that his best years are still ahead of him.

Where next for the special one?

It is all but a certainty that Jose Mourinho will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season. He has fallen out of love with the players, the fans and has had a publically troublesome relationship with those at the top of the hierarchy . If he becomes the record breaking manager who wins the Champions league with 3 different clubs he will have achieved everything at Madrid and leave in order to pursue his next project. If he fails to achieve the top prize he will be let go. Either way the manager’s turbulent time at the club will come to an end attracting a host of attention from both clubs and countries.

Chelsea

Likelihood: Not likely

Roman Abramovich’s autocratic rule of the club will not see Jose return to the club where he launched his career to superstardom. The prospect of nurturing some of the world’s finest young talents would perhaps be more suited to rival pep, not Jose who tends to assemble his team on experienced and proven players. The fact that Chelsea have now won the champions league will not give the egotistical manager any room to further his already untouchable legacy at the club.

Manchester City

Likelihood: Likely

Failing to make it out the group stage was unacceptable for the Manchester club. This combined with a failure to retain the premier league will make him surplus to requirements at the Etihad. Mourinho has publically stated that he wants to manage in England again and City’s quest for world domination is only achievable through attaining the top prize in Europe; the special ones speciality. On paper it is a match made in heaven. The team already has a strong spine and with money to burn Mourinho would have the necessary funds needed to stamp his own footprint on the club similarly to how he did with Chelsea. The chances of this happening are very likely as the manager beats to his own drum meaning he will not have the patience needed to wait for Sir Alex to step down at United. His competitive nature will liken the thought of forcing an early retirement of his friend and rival by making Manchester City the top team in England.

PSG

Likelihood: Probable

The new European playboys have excelled in Europe and will enter the New Year at the top of their league. A team with the ambition of the French club will look to send a statement of intent which could see them move Ancelotti on in favour of one of the World’s most famous and marketable manager. He is a true celebrity who would raise the profile of the club and accelerate the growing reputation of the club. Off the field he could instil some authority to the dressing room by commanding the respect of a few of the prima donnas plying their craft in the French capital. One of them being the clubs talisman striker Ibrahimovic who has stated that he ‘could kill for Mourinho’ exemplifying the motivational effect the inspirational manager has on his players. The new kids on the block have signed some of the bests players in the world. Their biggest signing may have yet to arrive.

Portugal

Likelihood: A certainty

A world class mangerial resume will only be complete with a world cup winners medal. What better way to secure the greatest prize in football than with your home nation who have never won a major competition. He will be fully aware that Portugal has as strong as a squad as they have ever had with the likes of a one off talent like Ronaldo who will be at the peak age of 29 for the 2014 world cup. The optimum time to take the managerial role would be sooner rather than later if he wants to maximse Portugals golden generation. The appetite of the manager will see him look to match the likes of current Spanish boss Vicente Del Bosque and become the most successful manager in the history of football by winning honours for both clubs and countries.