Monday, August 19, 2013

Mourinho - Like he was never away?

The natural order of things appeared to resume at Stamford Bridge yesterday with a strong Chelsea team overwhelming their opponents in the first half hour and racing in to a 2-0 lead. After half time Chelsea then sat deeper presumably conserving energy for their next game against Villa on Wednesday.

All the while the fans smiled and chanted Jose Mourinho's name and there was a huge roar when Roman Abramovich's image came on the stadium screens. Deja vu anyone? The past has clearly been forgotten.

If Mourinho had any short term doubts about his decision to return they would have been dispelled by a rumbustious but hugely affectionate welcome from the Blues' fans. Their leader had returned, they were delighted and they let him know it.

Chelsea will face sterner tests for sure this year than a newly promoted Hull and a slightly bewildered looking Allan McGregor in goal but there signs of the returning swagger as well as some problems that have not gone away.

Some of Chelsea's interplay in the first half hour was mesmerising. Oscar in particular showed a glimpse that his future may lie in a deeper role with more of the game ahead of him. He continually dropped alongside Lampard and Ramires before playing crisp give and gos with his advanced colleagues causing mayhem in the Hull defence in the process.

Lampard and Ramires looked re-energised but whether they are a true 'holding' pair remains to be seen. There is however strength in depth with Essien and Van Ginkel looking on.

Kevin De Bruyne looked bright on his debut but he will need to improve his decision making in the short term or at least get new shooting boots. Three speculative long range shots went sailing over the bar with Chelsea in a promising position.

Eden Hazard remains an ever so slight enigma. The man is a handful to say the least but he is at the point where he must decide whether he wants to be a fancy dan winger or take his game to the next level and become a player that drives and dictates a game in the vein of Ronaldo or a Luis Figo. One hopes and suspects that with Mourinho around it will be the latter, he clearly has the ability.

Chelsea's defensive strength in depth is there for all to see and whilst Terry is clearly much slower nowadays he remains a consummate reader of the game and a highly underrated passer of the ball.

Fernando Torres had another very 'Torres' game. He showed some intent and nice touches, ran around a fair bit and linked up well with Oscar and Hazard in particular. He also however didn't look close to fashioning a chance that he could score with. Mourinho's post game comments that they still want to buy a striker look more pertinent than ever although Lukaku looked good when he came on.

Mourinho is back where he feels he belongs, Chelsea are winning and the fans are happy but there is still much work to do - No Nonsense.