Belfast Telegraph

The Verdict: Now Jose Mourinho will want Chelsea to rule Europe

By Steven Beacom

Champions Chelsea. Inevitable. Has been from their first match of the season when they won at Burnley. In fact even before then.

Jose Mourinho's shrewd summer signings saw to that.

Once Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa came on board and Thibaut Courtois returned to Stamford Bridge from a loan spell with Atletico Madrid, anyone with a football brain knew Chelsea were going to be the side to beat in the Premier League. Mourinho didn't disappoint us. He rarely does.

Jose is the best manager in England. No question about that. Best on the planet? Only Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti would enter the argument with the 'Special One'.

Some felt he had lost his touch after coming 'home' to Chelsea from Real Madrid in 2013, when in his first season back the Blues lost a number of games in uncharacteristic fashion and their challenge for trophies fell apart.

The truth is, though, he wasn't using his own tools, and knew that the Chelsea squad he inherited needed help to become strong enough to be title winners.

He recruited proven quality in Courtois, Fabregas and Costa, who he trusted would make a difference, and signed Didier Drogba to offset the loss of another club legend Frank Lampard. Clever.

His magical man management did the rest lifting John Terry to the heights of yesteryear, inspiring Nemanja Matic to become his midfield enforcer and turning Eden Hazard into the most influential footballer in English football.

Early on this season they played with style and grace when Fabregas, Hazard and Costa ripped defences to shreds. Lately they have performed with steel and grit.

That has led to calls of 'Boring, Boring Chelsea'. 'Bravo, Bravo Chelsea' would be more appropriate.

To Mourinho it is all about getting the job done, as was the case yesterday when his team overcame Crystal Palace 1-0 at home to seal the fifth title in the club's history. The 52-year-old from Portugal has been in charge for three of them.

Chelsea are worthy champions, make no mistake about that. We should note though that they were helped by the failings of the clubs who were supposed to challenge them.

Manchester City's title defence disintegrated as Manuel Pellegrini's tactics and the attitude of his players were found wanting. Arsenal only seem to produce a run of form when they know they can't win the title while Manchester United, getting used to life with Louis van Gaal, and Liverpool, getting used to life without Luis Suarez, didn't even get close.

Chelsea, who also won the League Cup this term, will be favourites for the title next season with Mourinho sure to strengthen his squad.

He won't just demand domestic glory. He will want Chelsea to be Kings of Europe as well.

Mourinho has won the European Cup with Porto and Inter Milan, but laments the fact, unlike Roberto Di Matteo, he has never delivered it to his beloved Blues. Whisper this, but Rafael Benitez has won more European trophies for Chelsea than Jose!

The Blues were embarrassed by 10 man PSG in the last 16 of the European Cup this season. That hurt Mourinho. The pain will drive him on. Barcelona, Real and Bayern beware.

Belfast Telegraph


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