With the start of another season looming and the excitement of preseason in the air, this column will discuss what’s new with the Blues: a new manager, new players – transfers as well as youth players climbing up the ranks – and finally Chelsea’s preseason highlights.
New manager Jose Mourinho, although not a new face, returns to his beloved Chelsea as a wiser, more determined, grey-haired man. Despite parting ways with Roman and his men in 2007, “Jose Mourinho, Jose Mourinho” has echoed through Stamford Bridge over the years. The Portuguese coach earned the title “The Special One” during his time at Stamford Bridge by taking the club to new heights and establishing Stamford Bridge as a feared fortress. During his time with the club, Mourinho lead the team to two Premier League titles in 2004/2005 and 2005/2006, as well as two Carling Cups and an FA Cup. The question on all our minds now is: will Mourinho be able to replicate the success he achieved with Chelsea in the past or, better yet, improve it?
Mourinho returns to a different Chelsea where the few remaining old guard coupled with many fresh young talents are all equally eager to earn a coveted spot in the first team. Will we see Mourinho rebuild the team with a more defensive nature or will he implement a more attacking style with the likes of Mata, Hazard and Oscar, changing the philosophy previously deployed at the Bridge?
The transfer period has been a quiet one in terms of Chelsea standards. Only three players have been bought this summer thus far: namely Andre Schurrle, Marco Van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer. Schwarzer seems to have been bought as an experienced reserve for Cech for the season, with Cech’s long term replacement expected to be Thibaut Courtois, loaned to Atletico Madrid for a third consecutive season. Schurrle and Van Ginkel are young, fresh talents who will be part of the new generation of Chelsea players we expect to see for many years to come.
Other exciting new players including Kevin De Bruyne, who although was signed by Chelsea in 2011 has not played a competitive match for the Blues yet, Romelu Lukaku and Lucas Piazon, who spent last season on loan, and Chelsea U21 players Kalas, Chalobah, and Feruz. They will all be eager to impress Mourinho with the hope of being selected for Chelsea’s first team this season.
Chelsea started their preseason campaign in Asia last week, where they won their first two fixtures. They defeated Singha All-Stars 1 – 0 through a well-struck Lukaku penalty last Wednesday and thereafter thumping Malaysia XI 4 -1 on Sunday, goals courtesy of Traore, De Bruyne, Lukaku and Moses. The Blues play their final Asia Tour match against Indonesia XI on Thursday before jetting off to the United States to compete in the inaugural Guinness International Champions Cup. The players who featured in the 2013 Confederations Cup: Brazilian winners, Luiz and Oscar; Spanish runners-up, Torres, Mata and Azpilicueta, along with Nigerian captain Mikel, will join up with the rest of the squad in the US.
Two standout players in preseason thus far are Belgian attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and Brazilian defender Wallace. De Bruyne, who is full of confidence and energy (evident in his superb goal against Malaysia XI), will be eager to earn a spot in the Chelsea first team this season. Wallace has looked very composed on the ball, solid defensively and is impressive going forward. The young Brazilian, however, will not play in Chelsea Blue this season due to work permit complications, but serves as an interesting prospect for the near future.
With the summer transfer rumours raging and many thrilling preseason games ahead, there are many reasons to be excited as a Chelsea fan today!