Jose Mourinho Proves That He Is Still the Best Manager in the Premier League
When Jose Mourinho announced his return to the Premier League and Chelsea Football Club, there were many who said that this was the Portuguese admitting defeat, that his time at Real Madrid was a failure, and that he was returning to England with his tail between his legs.
And admittedly, Jose Mourinho's time at Real Madrid does pale in comparison with his other achievements.
However, flash forward a few months and Mourinho's Chelsea sit at the top of the Premier League table and still competing in both the Champions League and the FA Cup.
But how much of Chelsea's success this season is due to Jose Mourinho himself? Let's take a look at some of the ways Jose Mourinho has proven his skills once more.
Crucial Tactics in Crucial Wins
In a close battle like this year's title race, the difference between first and second—or even third and fourth—could be down to head-to-head matches.
This season, Chelsea have yet to lose to one of their top-four rivals, including a double over closest title competition Manchester City.
In each of these matches, Mourinho's tactics have made all the difference. He was criticized for defensive tactics used against Arsenal in their 0-0 draw in late December. However, Chelsea came out of the packed holiday period with an excellent record, and a scoreless draw away against the top team (at that point) is a good result for anyone.
Because of that, many people expected the manager to employ similar tactics against Man City last Monday. So when Chelsea arrived at the Etihad with attacking intent, City weren't the only ones who were caught by surprise.
With just Arsenal at home and Liverpool away left on their fixture list (of the top four), Chelsea have a much easier ride ahead of them than that of their competition.
When Mourinho dropped Juan Mata at the beginning of the season, there weren't many who could see why. Mata was Chelsea's Player of the Season for two years running and had been instrumental in their back-to-back successes in Europe.
However, after a few months, it was clear to see that Chelsea were a superior team to the one of the past two years and that Oscar was flourishing in that No. 10 role.
Many people still disagree with Mourinho's decision-making. In fact, when I published an article on this site in November claiming that Chelsea should sell Juan Mata in the January transfer window, the comments section was filled with statements akin to "I would rather have Mourinho leave than Mata."
Fast forward three months—Mata has been sold to a seventh-placed team who just drew with the bottom team in the Premier League, and Chelsea have ascended to the top of the table.
Another inspired decision was to drop the aging Ashley Cole for Cesar Azpilicueta in defence.
The King of Mind Games
As we all knew from his first stint at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho is the king of mind games.
Having spent most of this season talking down Chelsea's title chances, and piling the pressure on Man City and Arsenal, Mourinho has managed to take the spotlight off of his players and get under the skin of his opposing managers in the process.
After getting the desired responses from Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini, Mourinho admitted that this is exactly his intention. "Everything I say and do are mind games," Mourinho said via Reuters. "The only thing that is not mind games are the results."
The Support of the Fans
Finally, Mourinho has something that cannot be bought or invented: the support of the Chelsea fans.
As Rafael Benitez discovered the hard way, the support of the Stamford Bridge faithful can be a crucial factor in a manager's success at a club.
David Moyes is the unfortunate man to follow Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Although the fans have been giving Moyes the benefit of the doubt for some time, you can feel the unease starting to grow, and Man United will have trouble improving their results with it.
Jose Mourinho may have made some unpopular decisions already this season, but each one has been backed up with results, and the manager's name rings around Stamford Bridge each time Chelsea play at home.
This is the sort of power that many Premier League managers would kill for. Even if Chelsea finish this season without a trophy, Jose Mourinho will still have an army of support.
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