• Premier League

Future's bright for Mourinho's Chelsea

Rob Bartlett
February 4, 2014
Willian has been an impressive introduction into the Chelsea team by Jose Mourinho © PA Photos

While Jose Mourinho might be trying to pull the wool over our eyes with regard to Chelsea's Premier League title chances this year, it is not difficult to see why he thinks this 'little horse' of his may have even greater champion potential for next season.

Much like multiple champion trainers Paul Nicholls or Nicky Henderson, Mourinho is priming his stable for now and in preparation for the future.

Mourinho has said repeatedly that he wants to be around at Chelsea for a long time yet. He has shown again in his second stint at the club he can quickly mould a highly competitive side, but the focus on the future suggests he is aiming higher - at domination once more.

The Portuguese admitted during the January transfer window there was no need to make emergency signings; everything was already building for this season, next and beyond.

The search for a new striker continues with marquee names such Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa all linked with moves to Chelsea in the summer.

None of them would be cheap and Chelsea fans, never mind Mourinho, must salivate at the difference a prolific striker would make to this season's team. Any one of them would be an upgrade on Samuel Eto'o, the stop-gap signing who is good but past his peak.

Fernando Torres has hardly been a frightening striker for opponents, scoring just 43 goals in 154 appearances for Chelsea. Demba Ba has been used sparingly since his £7m move from Newcastle in January 2013 and is out of favour after notching just nine goals in 39 appearances.

However, while the strikers leave plenty of room for improvement, Mourinho is collecting pieces of the puzzle in other parts of his team.

His introduction of Willian has been inspiring and Nemanja Matic has returned for £21m following an impressive stint with Benfica, with whom he won Primera Liga Player of the Year honours in 2013.

Plans for an alternative to the ageing John Terry have been made, too, with the signature of coveted youngster Kurt Zouma.

Zouma has remained on loan at St Etienne to gain more defensive experience, and talented goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is eager to displace Petr Cech between the posts, is also growing in confidence at Atletico Madrid.

And let's not forget Romelu Lukaku, who has been eased into a Premier League force with loan spells at West Brom and Everton, even if he has an uneasy relationship with Mourinho.

Then there is Mohamed Salah, the winger who scored against Chelsea in the Champions League earlier this season and, joined from Basel. He is another exciting prospect and, like some of Mourinho's other new recruits, will have had important time to adjust to his new surroundings on and off the pitch by the time next season comes around.

"To do something now as an emergency plan is not the best thing," Mourinho said recently. "The players we're signing now are the right ones for our future: [Nemanja] Matic, [Mohamed] Salah, Zouma, a young kid for the future.

"We don't sign a striker now as an emergency plan to score half a dozen goals to give us half a dozen extra points, whatever they mean for us."

On Monday night, after Chelsea inflicted a first home defeat of the current Premier League campaign on Manchester City, Mourinho claimed: "It's not our objective to win the league. Our objective is to build the team and complete the puzzle and formation of the players."

For once, there may be some substance to go with his mind games.

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