Why 2014 Premier League Title Would Be Jose Mourinho's Greatest Chelsea Success

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Why 2014 Premier League Title Would Be Jose Mourinho's Greatest Chelsea Success
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Hold your breath. There are still four games remaining—cup finals, some would say.

That won't stop Chelsea and Liverpool supporters from containing their excitement in the belief that, after Manchester City's draw with Sunderland this week, their name is on the Premier League trophy.

Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool are two points clear at the top of the table, leading Chelsea by the finest of margins.

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And on the back of that City draw, both Rodgers and his former mentor Jose Mourinho know the task that sits before them is simple in theory: Win all your remaining games and the promised land awaits.

That Chelsea have their title destiny in their own hands once more is remarkable.

Just a few short weeks ago, back-to-back away defeats to struggling Aston Villa and Crystal Palace seemed to damage their title hopes beyond repair.

With either games in hand or points on the board, 2013-14 had become about Liverpool and Manchester City.

Through their own shortcomings, City have let Chelsea back in it.

When Liverpool and Manuel Pellegrini's side faced off at Anfield last Sunday, the game was billed as a Premier League title decider—whoever won would be champions.

Matt Dunham

It was all a little premature, though.

When Chelsea themselves travel to Merseyside on Apr. 27, that will prove end of days for one club. Finish on the losing side at Anfield and you're toast.

Should the result go in Chelsea's favor, 2013-14 will surpass anything Mourinho has achieved as Chelsea manager.

Forget bringing the league title back to Stamford Bridge for the first time in 50 years; even back-to-back titles don't compare.

Winning the Premier League in 2014 will prove his ultimate achievement.

Mourinho inherited a club last summer that was in stark contrast to the one he took charge of in 2004.

ALASTAIR GRANT

Back then, there was harmony at Chelsea. The fans were relishing the prospect of the future under their new billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, and after a year in west London, the Russian had employed Europe's biggest up-and-coming manager.

The supporters, players, the board and their new coach were pulling in one direction. It was bliss.

This time, Mourinho has had a much more difficult task.

Not only is the Premier League a different beast altogether—a league with far more than just the one foe to contend with—Mourinho's had to repair the damage left by successive managerial appointments at Stamford Bridge.

Matt Dunham

The Portuguese's squad has been top heavy. For all his riches in attacking midfield, Chelsea's numbers have been much worse elsewhere.

There hasn't been a 20-goal-a-season striker, he's been forced to play a right-back on the left side of defence and it was only in January that he obtained the world-class defensive midfielder he desperately craved.

Indeed, it's been a steep learning curve for him, finding the right formula in a season where his rivals have been far more settled.

Arsenal have the benefit of a manager who is the Premier League's longest-serving, while Rodgers is in his second year at Liverpool, not in Europe and with just domestic football to contend himself with.

Even at the Etihad Stadium, where Pellegrini has had to adjust to English football, a few signings in key positions have meant Manchester City have looked stronger than ever before under Roberto Mancini.

Bogdan Maran

The minimum requirement for Mourinho was to make Chelsea challengers again. He's far surpassed that.

We can talk of wage budgets, transfer fees and mega-rich owners, yet football is about so much more.

Chelsea haven't resembled a team in recent years. The players have pulled together at various times to do the unthinkable—think the 2012 Champions League final—but it's over the course of a league season where we've seen the true depth of their talents as a group.

It's never quite been there. There's always been something missing.

Now it's the contrary.

Mourinho's Chelsea have gradually got stronger as the season has passed. His methods are taking hold once more, and if he does what was unthinkable a few weeks back by out-witting his former protege Rodgers in the title race, it will be his finest hour in blue.

 

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes

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