Chelsea fans must feel quite pleased with their pre-season. Initially ridiculed for their summer transfer window activity, after watching the Blues for a couple of games, it seems that Jose Mourinho had not lost his marbles after all.
In came Radamel Falcao and Kenedy, with fans wondering who the latter was and just why the f*ck the club had signed the former, who was an unprecedented flop for Manchester United. Out went Petr Cech, to be replaced with Asmir Begovic, who came on the understanding that he would be back up to Thibaut Courtois, who is of course one of the top five goalkeepers in the world, and has more than justified the sale of Cech with his pre-season performances alone.
The hero of two penalty shootouts, with a string of good saves along the way, Courtois is not losing his spot anytime soon, and showed tenfold that he is the future for Chelsea. Begovic, from what he has shown, is a more than capable back-up, and although Cech was willing to spend one season on the bench, to make him stay past this summer would have only served to unsettle the squad and cause a rift with the player.
Falcao meanwhile looks half a stone lighter than he did during his time at Manchester United, and looks happy. That might not seem a fundamental thing, but it is, especially with foreign players, and now Falcao has a manager who trusts him, players he knows and a crowd who are already on his side after he stepped up not once, but twice in two consecutive shootouts.
The forward has been impressive in the flashes that we have seen from him, but that is not to say he will be anymore of a success at Chelsea than United – but Mourinho sees something in him and thus far, the signs are promising.
Kenedy meanwhile may have featured for less than a whole game against Barcelona, but showed enough for people to say how well he would fit into the Premier League. He is good on the ball, commanding in the air and can stick a foot in – and seems to have an expansive style of play the Chelsea fans have been hankering to see for so long.
This could well be the season for the Chelsea kids to break through, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek the name on everyone’s lips, and Bertrand Traore finally getting a chance to impress after securing a work permit, with Mourinho raving about the young player who has impressed while out on loan last term, and who deserves to be given a chance to shine.
Another star of pre-season, and one that very few people expected to be raving about was Victor Moses, who at the very least has added to his transfer value – and may have even impressed Jose Mourinho enough to stay at the club.
All of the signs are positive for the Blues, and their performance against Barcelona epitomises who they are and who they are trying to become. The goal by Eden Hazard was the stuff of dreams – and showed the sexy football Chelsea can play. The equaliser by Gary Cahill was the polar opposite, but showed their will to win and their desire to get a result no matter what the cost. It was scruffy, it was dirty, but it was a goal and one that took Chelsea to a penalty shootout, which they ended up winning.
They are beauty and the beast, as last season showed. It was a season of two halves, with the Blues turning it on when they could and grinding it out when they couldn’t. It saw them crowned double winners, and while Mourinho will want to go one step further this season, especially in Europe, the business he has conducted this summer will stand him in good stead, and despite what rival fans may have thought, Jose looks like having the last laugh again, with Chelsea the clear favourites ahead of the new season.