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Gary Lim
Friday, Aug 15, 2014

Sports

Jose must deliver

The New Paper | Gary Lim | Friday, Aug 15, 2014

Chelsea's coach Jose Mourinho looks before their friendly soccer match against Vitesse Arnhem in Arnhem July 30, 2014.

It is up for debate whether Jose Mourinho deserved a honeymoon period last season.

His supporters say he returned to an altogether different club and could not be expected to start winning trophies from the get go, his detractors complain that with the players at his disposal, the "Special One" should have delivered silverware.

If last season was a transitional period for Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, then the upcoming English Premier League campaign has to be do-or-die.

The man used to setting benchmarks in his career must now live up to the expectations.

He lamented the lack of reliable strikers last term as he finished his first season back in England empty-handed.

That excuse won't hold water this time.

Top marksman Diego Costa has arrived from Atletico Madrid for a fee of £32 million ($67.2m).

Clearly, Mourinho sees the Brazilian-born Spanish international as the answer to the club's goalscoring woes.

Former Chelsea player and manager Ruud Gullit feels Mourinho has to deliver silverware this time.

"Jose is not used to being without trophies," said the Dutchman, who left Chelsea in 1998 and is now a pundit for Sky Sports.

'He wants to win something and this year it has to happen. With the squad they have, they need to win something.

"...he didn't have the striker he wanted and now he has it. Now it's time to produce."

Success was immediate during Mourinho's first spell with the Blues. Between 2004 and 2007, the Portuguese won two Premiership titles at a canter, as well as two League Cups and one FA Cup.

Reality check

By comparison, last season was a reality check, as the Blues finished third in the Premiership and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The man seen as a football club's instant remedy was rendered powerless as Manchester City and Liverpool surged past them in the league, while Atletico Madrid knocked them out of Europe.

His infamous barbed tongue continued its work, most memorably when he called Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger a "specialist in failure", but he then had to watch the Gunners lift the FA Cup in May as his side pondered over their own near misses.

He claimed last season that no manager deserves the amount of patience Wenger got from Arsenal's owners.

One thing's for sure, he won't be getting it with Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich.

His purchases in the transfer market will be crucial.

Chelsea have never been afraid to spend big to rise to the top and this time has been no different.

Costa was merely one of three top names to arrive at Stamford Bridge over the last couple of months, the other two being Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis - combined, the trio cost £75 million.

There have been three high-profile departures, but Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard's moves were understandable considering their age.

Romelu Lukaku's permanent move to Everton looks like a real loss, although, the Belgian's heart had long been somewhere else.

The general feeling is that Chelsea have strengthened considerably.

Favourites

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville picked them as favourites for the league crown.

Surely, Mourinho must be doing something right.

Indeed, with the squad he has assembled, the Blues look good enough to land a trophy this season.

But I doubt Mourinho will be happy with a League Cup crown or FA Cup trophy.

He will want to deliver a major prize, and his challenge will be to land the Premiership or the Champions League crown.

Anything less and some will see it as a failure, and Mourinho just hates that word.

garylim@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Aug 13 in The New Paper.


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