For the past few seasons, Chelsea has resembled more of a team of mercenaries than a true “team”.
Wait a second, Blues supporters before you exit off this article and curse me as a Chelsea troll, know that I am one of you.
I am also a fan, one from overseas who has never actually been to Stamford Bridge, but still as loyal as they come.
A popular slander against Chelsea is that the squad is made up of overpaid foreign stars who are only in it for the money. That might be just an unproven jibe said to get a rise out of Blues supporters, but if you look at the game through the popular analogy that the football pitch is “a field of battle” then you can see where the haters are coming from.
In an army or any kind of fighting force, you want commitment and a sense of stability. You want your soldiers fighting for each other and a common cause. Under owner Roman Abramovich’s harsh age policy and tendency to fire coaches in their first couple years, Chelsea seems to have become his own personal Mafia instead of a united force.
Players are brought in and motivated by money from the start. When they play good they are loved and treated as prized possessions, but when they reach a certain age they are cut off and sent away to retire somewhere else.
Don’t get me wrong, there are of course a group of players who have been main stays over the last few years, players like Petr Cech, John Terry, Ashley Cole, and somehow Paulo Ferreira has even managed to stick around. Yet, they all must surely see the looming shadow of exile as they grow older each day?
Didier Drogba, the club’s fourth highest goal scorer of all time, was let go after he turned 34. Even the great Frank Lampard’s future was in doubt after he was seemingly denied the opportunity to retire as a Blue because it would go against Abramovich’s age policy to re-sign a 34-year-old.
Only his amazing scoring run to become the club’s all time leading scorer and the fact that fans were in a frenzied rage saved Lampard in the end. Even then, he was given a one year deal so we will all have to go through the same drama again next year.
In regards to his tendency to shove coaches out the door, Abramovich might have finally found his long-term manager with the return of Jose Mourinho. “The Special One” might just be the only man to have ever made Abramovich show a public sign of weakness.
In rehiring Mourinho, Abramovich has shown that he made an error in firing him five years ago. Since that time, the general of Abramovich’s “army” has changed five times, which is not even counting interim managers.
If what makes a committed squad is stability and consistency, Mourinho will once again bring that to Stamford Bridge. There is no way he would disrespect and get rid of a legend like Lampard. Mourinho will be the one to stand up to Abramovich and change the clubs policies on transfers.
He will be still bringing in the big money players, all clubs need to do that to truly be competitive, but age won’t affect his opinions of his players. He has done a lot with his older players; legends like Claude Makelele, Diego Milito, and Javier Zanetti all played key parts in Mourinho’s title winning seasons at older ages.
Mourinho has already stated that bringing stability is crucial.
“I am the same, physically the same, but every day you have to think about yourself, especially the manager, and about the evolution,” Mourinho told the club’s official website. “I have the same nature, but I’m much more mature with a different approach to things, I’m more ready to be in a club and stay for a long time.”
“If you look from my time, there are around four or five boys and these are the older ones – very important for this football club and very important for the balance of the squad, but it’s a young squad with a lot of talent and I think they need stability to reach a high point of their evolution and for their careers.
They need stability, stability, I hope I can give them and between me, the owner and of course the club, we have no doubts about what we want to do and the approach we want to have.”
Chelsea will become a more respectable team again under Mourinho this season. His ability to completely take over a club is what truly makes him a special manager.
Whether that incites an angry Russian to fire him again further down the road is another story.