In Mourinho we trust

Posted by Mark Worrall

AllsportEveryone at Chelsea buys into Jose Mourinho's masterplan.

For the past few months there has been a school of thought that the race for the 2013-14 Premier League title was going to be more open than it has been since the dawn of the new millennium. With the exception of Arsenal -- still guided by venerable old sage Arsene Wenger, who, given eight trophy-less years and counting, clearly has the most patient board of directors to report to in football -- the rest of the so-called big four (Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea) installed new managers during the summer, with questions being regularly asked about the merits and demerits of each appointment.

As the campaign has unfolded, Arsenal have laid down a marker for consistency, a tight defence being an initial key point of difference for the Gunners. Despite this, they have struggled for results against their peer group, and Wenger knows he needs to add to his squad, now shorn of the services of the injured Theo Walcott, if the manager is to finally bring silverware to the barren Emirates trophy cabinet.

- Mourinho: Chelsea Belong To Me

Manchester City, under the guidance of the likable, rheumy-eyed Manuel Pellegrini, are scoring goals for fun. Pellegrini has the most valuable squad in the PL and cash reserves to add to it. With early-season defensive woes seemingly ironed out, and a strike force featuring Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo -- to say nothing of the prolific, when given a game, Edin Dzeko -- City always look like scoring more than they concede. Unfazed by still being in the hunt for four trophies, Pellegrini clearly has the minerals to succeed at the Etihad, and few would bet against the Citizens being in the mix for the biggest prize of all come May.

Across town, Manchester United, in the context of the fact they are the reigning Premier League champions, appear to be struggling. David Moyes, anointed as "The Chosen One" by the Old Trafford faithful, is finding the task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson somewhat challenging. Ferguson's master stroke, which brought him one last title, was the signing of Robin van Persie from Arsenal. The Dutchman's goals made a telling difference -- and this season, owing to injury, Moyes has been deprived of van Persie's services, instead having to over-rely on the capable Wayne Rooney, who is now also on the treatment table.

United are a very public work in progress, a team in transition with a manager who doesn't have the winner’s pedigree or gravitas to convince the watching world that he is the right man for the job. Can the Red Devils mount a realistic challenge for the title? Anything is possible, but ongoing inconsistency of results, an unflattering squad and a big question mark over the man pulling the strings suggests not.

So with Manchester United in an unusual state of turmoil, have the big four become the big three? Waving aside the peripheral claims of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Everton, the answer has to be yes. The 2013-14 Premier League will be won by one of Arsenal, Manchester City or Chelsea, and in London SW6 there is a certain Special individual for whom the stars seem to be aligning very nicely at the moment.

Of all the recent top-flight managerial appointments made, one attracted more column inches than the rest put together: the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. Could Mourinho replicate the spectacular success he achieved in his first term in office?

How would he mesh this time around with the Blues' munificent but ever-impatient owner, Roman Abramovich?

Did Mourinho have the patience to redevelop a squad in transition whilst getting the best out of the undoubted talent he has at his disposal?

Compelling questions which a lesser mortal might have struggled to answer in the constant glare of the media spotlight, especially given the latest stock-in-trade of reporting a patchy run of form as a crisis.

On current evidence, after a few wobbles (occasionally reported as crises), the answer to all the above questions is a resounding yes! This is a very different Mourinho than the man who first wowed English football almost a decade ago. Older, wiser, more self-deprecating, and armed with the additional experience that sojourns at Inter Milan and Real Madrid have brought him, Mourinho Mk II has taken many by surprise, and the Portuguese seems infinitely happy having renewed his association with London, Chelsea and the Stamford Bridge faithful, who fete him like a God.

"I'm here to stay. I belong to Chelsea, Chelsea belong to me," said the Blues boss in a recent interview, waxing lyrical about his renewed vows. "I gave a lot to Chelsea in the past, but they also gave a lot to me. This is a different professional relationship."

There are, of course, obstacles to be surmounted. The changing of the old guard -- club legends Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech are being managed sensibly and with respect. Captain Terry has indeed enjoyed a remarkable renaissance that has seen him play every minute of Chelsea's Premier League season thus far.

The task of balancing a glittering midfield with the inevitable disappointment for those who don't fit the Mourinho template -- principally Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne -- has been challenging and often tetchy, and the frustration with strikers who cannot "kill" the opposition is often visible for all to see. Despite this, the Blues' manager is fashioning the team in his own image, with the full backing of supporters and, given the complete silence from club officers, employer Mr. Abramovich.

It all boils down to trust, and everyone connected with Chelsea Football Club trusts in Jose Mourinho -- a factor which is not lost on the man himself. "People trust me and I like that feeling," he mused when asked to crystallize his thoughts on life at Stamford Bridge. "People know I am one of them, so they know that my happiness in the good moments is more than a normal manager and my sadness is more, too."

Such words can only give credence to the increasing belief that Mourinho, who has now amassed 14 major trophies from managerial stints in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, will ultimately be the deciding factor in determining the destination of this season's Premier League title, to say nothing of having a tilt at the FA Cup and Champions league -- silverware he is already well-acquainted with.

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