El Niño

Didn’t it prove to be an interesting transfer window?  Joe Kinnear showed Arsenal and United that they really don’t need a Director of Football. However, it was good to see Kinnear’s counterparts on the blue side of Manchester earning their money. Good purchases, completed early in the window. Negredo looks to be the player City thought they’d get with Dzeko, an outstanding purchase and a snip at an estimated £20M.

The concept of a Director of Football at Chelsea brings a wry smile to my face. Is Roman playing devil’s advocate through a third person? This year marked ten years, since a thirty-seven year old, Russian billionaire purchased Chelsea from Ken Bates. In the 03-04 season, Chelsea spent £153M; bar Alexei Smertin, all were excellent purchases. In his quest for success, Abramovich ousted the gentleman in favour of ‘the Special One’ and the trophies duly arrived, all except the one that mattered. Chelsea wiped all before them over a successful three year tenure and Mourinho forced most to believe the hype. The two seasons prior to Mourinho joining, Frank Lampard scored (a very respectable) fifteen goals; the following two seasons saw him score thirty-four and collect various player of the season awards for his efforts. Also, his work with Joe Cole has been well documented.

All was not well, it seemed that Mourinho grew tired of trying to operate with his hands tied and set sail for Internazionale. However, whilst Chelsea were winning, it was said by some that they weren’t winning with ‘style’ and ‘flair’. Sometimes bullying opponents into defeat or taking defeat in the most ungracious manner.

He set about his most ambitious vanity project; changing his team from one that one wins, to one that wins in style.

With Andriy Schevchenko (£30M) back in Italy for an unsuccessful second spell with AC Milan, Roman obliterated the British transfer record by signing Fernando Torres from Liverpool for £50M. Clearly, a player admired by the Chelsea owner, a player who terrorised his team (7 out of the 81 scored for Liverpool came against Chelsea). Torres, seemingly the antithesis of Drogba, but exactly what the owner was looking for in a man and a player. To name but a few; honest, humble, quick and skilful.

But a success he has not been. At Liverpool he was undeniably a forward of sensational proportions. But let me be clear! On a list of my most hated teams, Liverpool sit behind only Forest and Derby, so he has earned my admiration based on solely his talent.

When I heard Chelsea were prepared to loan out Romelu Lukaku or Demba Ba, it clicked.

How was it possible the infamously stubborn Russian Oligarch was prepared to forgive Mourinho? How can Chelsea justify loaning out Lukaku or Ba whilst only signing a thirty-two year old Samuel Eto?

I believe that whilst Roman was searching for successor to Rafa Benitez, Mourinho appealed to his vanity. He would be build a team based on guile and craft, one with Torres at the focal point. Where Rafa had failed, Jose would succeed. Famed for his man-management and player development, I believe Mourinho plans to rejuvenate Torres and justify the Russian’s confidence in forking out £50M.

Granted, I don’t know Roman Abramovich, but it would seem he is not a man who is easily embarrassed, nor one that would take it well. I think Jose recognised this and made it a key part of his argument that he is the right man to take Chelsea forward.

Only time will tell. Although, I feel it won’t be long until we see the real Fernando Torres.




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