Jose Mourinho’s double winning Champions are officially back in training and embarking on a pre-season tour, where they will play the likes of Barcelona and PSG before the Community Shield against Arsenal and the start of the Premier League season.
The Blues haven’t kicked a ball competitively yet, but there are already those who are casting an admiring eye over their rivals and their summer spending – and wondering just what is going on in west London, or more accurately, the yacht Roman Abramovich is holidaying on this summer.
Chelsea have let Cech and Drogba leave and have added benchwarmers Begovic and Falcao – Juan Cuadrado is still standing, and anyone who saw the Colombian performance in the Copa America will not hold out high hopes for a dream team partnership between the duo this season.
Their forward line survived last season – just, but they had to play 90 minutes with a 37 year old more times than they would have liked – so to bring in a crock to replace said 37 year old, who scored the same amount of goals as Falcao last term, is really saying something.
While Chelsea are quiet this summer, their rivals are on fire, especially when you glance at Old Trafford, and you have to wonder, will Chelsea retain their title if their rivals improve so significantly? The answer, Jose Mourinho will tell you, is undoubtedly yes, with the more his team are pushed and made to perform, the better and more dangerous they will be.
Take a look at Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain. It might be the stuff of dreams to reach the latter stages of the Champions League and not have to worry about your domestic title, being able to rest players left, right and centre, but does that actually help?
While it is not advisable to play the same elven for 60 games in a season, consistency is always preferable, but more than that, so is a winning mentality.
Bayern are a great side, there is no doubt, but the fact they walk the Bundesliga time after time is hindering them in Europe. The competition and siege mentality that comes from being in a league like the Premier League – or even La Liga, where there are three top sides, does galvanize a team.
How do you go from battering your last three domestic opponents 4-0 to then have a Champions League knockout clash with one of Europe’s elite and walk it? The long and short of it is that you don’t. Complacency is a killer and that is exactly what Chelsea suffered from last season.
They are better than PSG, they should have beaten PSG, yet despite taking the lead three times, were sloppy, and ended up crashing out after an abysmal performance. Mourinho’s men needed to up their game and they didn’t, because they were so used to things working out domestically.
Last season, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool were never going to win the league. City folded quicker than a pack of cards, because that’s what they seem to do when defending a title, and it was Chelsea’s from day one.
This season, it will not be if their rivals continue going the way they are. Arsenal have a huge signing in Cech, and that will spice the clashes with Chelsea up even more. They might not buy anyone else – in fact, it’s Wenger, so he probably thinks his summer spending is done now, but Cech will make a huge difference.
Liverpool have frittered their money away again, but they have a top forward in Benteke should the deal go through, and for many people, their player of last season in Philippe Coutinho, who was arguably better than Raheem Sterling at times and if he can get some consistency into his game, could be the foundation behind a title challenge.
Then come United and City, who are going to be Chelsea’s biggest threats. City have Sterling, but bar that, haven’t made too many big moves, and while rumours of a move for another Chelsea midfield reject, this time in Kevin De Bruyne, are circling, that won’t unnecessarily worry Mourinho.
The Chelsea boss knows as well as many of us do, this is the last season Pellegrini will be at City, and he only has the job after the performance last term because Pep Guardiola isn’t available yet.
United meanwhile have a top manager and are making big, big moves this summer. Van Gaal is sorting out the midfield. He is shipping out the defenders who do not do what it says on their CVs. He will bring in a forward and you have to imagine he really is hard minded enough to make De Gea see out the final year of his contract if a goalkeeping alternative fails to materialise.
Van Gaal thinks the summer is a process, and it is one that he, much like Mourinho last term, is winning. Chelsea did their business early, filled the gaps in their squad and went on to win the league. United are not only doing that, but they’ve offloaded Falcao to Chelsea for good measure.
That being said, Chelsea may have been quiet by their standards this summer, but they already have a title winning squad. Yes, in an ideal world, Juan Cuadrado, Mo Salah and Victor Moses would be shoved out the door and the locks promptly changed, but bar that, there is not too much Mourinho needs.
The lack of a fourth forward suggests that either a deadline day move is in the pipeline or that the Championship Player of last season, Patrick Bamford will be given a chance. That, along with the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, would be something Chelsea fans would love to see – and something that needs to happen for Mourinho to really top what he did last time at the club.
He won so much over such a short period of time and left a legacy that was arguably the major reason Chelsea continued to be winners, but this time he needs to build a Fergie like dynasty, and bringing kids through is a massive part of that.
Chelsea will be favourites as the new season approaches, but the competition will be far tougher this time round. The only problem for their rivals is last term, the Blues hardly had to get above third gear and at times, they coasted. Next season that won’t be the case, but there are those who will tell you Chelsea and Mourinho are never better than when they’re under pressure – after all, that’s when champions come out.