17 November 2013 by Jay Heal
After 7 turbulent years without one of the greatest Chelsea FC managers, there was always going to be high expectations on Jose Mourinho’s return. When Jose first left Stamford Bridge, I was truly gutted to see the man who brought the league title back to Fulham Road for the first time in 50 years.
The period that followed was a rollercoaster ride for me, from the lows of AVB and Avram Grant as manager, to the highs of Carlo Ancelotti’s double season and Roberto di Matteo’s Champions League win. Even the reign of Rafa Benitez, I would now conclude, was a good one in comparison to some previous appointments. But Jose coming back is a massive thing for us Chelsea fans. But like any reunion, the reasons for that initial fall out are never far from the memory.
Chelsea back in 2005 where a strong and imposing team that dominated domestic football. Though as time went on, it was clear Jose had aspirations in other leagues with other teams and who could blame him. The football we played then was clearly clinical but lacked the free flowing appeal that makes for modern football.
In his absence, we did pretty well generally. One Champions League, one Premiership title and three FA Cups. Changes behind the scene have moved us less of a powerful and efficient team to an intricate and skillful team. A characteristic of some of my favourite Chelsea teams of the past that contained Zola, Vialli, Guillet and Poyet. This, I believe, is returning Chelsea to its pre-Abramovich era characteristics of skillful individual players.
We are truly lucky to have such wonderful talent throughout midfield with players such as Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Schurrle and Kevin de Bruyne. But one talent for me stands out from all these world class players, Juan Mata. Not since Zola have we seen a player of such creativity talent and wizardry, but also the truly humble and down to Earth nature so often missing from modern, super rich footballers. A true role model I am proud for my children to associate with the team their father loves.
It is well documented that Mata’s style does not fit the clinical style so often characteristic of Mourinho’s winning teams. So as a Chelsea fan, I am to question what matters to me more- winning at all costs or having individuals playing for the club representative of the reasons why I fell in love with my local team in the first place.
As Chelsea have yet another November to forget, where our strong start to the season is a distant memory. There is no doubting Mourinho’s tactical skills and we will win trophies during his current reign, however long that maybe. But there has been a blueprint placed in his absence from the club that I now worry is being lost all over again, Mata himself embodies much of this spirit of the modern Chelsea.
I am hoping if Jose is to really align himself to Chelsea fans that Mata needs to be the heartbeat to this talent squad of individuals. Oscar, who has largely replaced Mata, is a central component to the future but potentially should not be in place of Mata. In my opinion, Oscar himself as a better candidate for Frank Lampard as he enters the final years of an illustrious career.