Jose Mourinho Cannot Hide If Chelsea Success Isn't Forthcoming in 2014-15

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2014

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho arrives for a training session at Cobham in England, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Chelsea will play a Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

"[Arsene Wenger] is a specialist in failure," said Jose Mourinho in February.

The Chelsea manager's jibe, as reported at the time by BBC Sport in the aftermath of his weekly briefing with the media, was one that spiced up the 2013-14 Premier League campaign like no other.

It was vintage stuff, reigniting Mourinho's long-standing feud with Frenchman Wenger, heaping plenty of pressure on the Arsenal manager to end the nine-year trophy drought he had overseen at Emirates Stadium.

Come May, however, Wenger did just that, guiding Arsenal to FA Cup success over Hull City. In contrast, Chelsea finished the campaign empty-handed.

For some, it's a blip in Chelsea's long-term goal of dominating English football once again. Mourinho's critics, however, will have us believe the pendulum has swung and the Portuguese's failure to deliver a trophy in his first season back at Stamford Bridge puts him in the same regard he holds Wenger.

That's something of an over-reaction, although a repeat in 2014-15 will raise serious questions about Mourinho's ability to repeat his previous success in west London.

Something the Chelsea manager isn't afraid to acknowledge himself.

"If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don't come back," Mourinho reflected in that February press conference.

Only, Mourinho may not last beyond next season, let alone a further seven. Not with this squad and not with his reputation.

It's difficult to judge improvement in football, a sport where results are everything.

Take England's national team for instance.

The general consensus is the Three Lions deployed a better brand of football at Brazil 2014 than they did at the previous tournament in South Africa four years earlier. The irony, though, is they crashed out in the group stage and were shamed into registering their worst display results-wise at a World Cup.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Should Roy Hodgson be applauded or dismissed for his team's endeavors? The line between progress and failure is a fine one.

We witnessed plenty of positives at Stamford Bridge last term, notably Mourinho's eagerness to blood his young players as he continues to rebuild the club.

Chelsea enjoyed their best title challenge in a long while and also reached the Champions League semi-final, yet the trophy cabinet told a different story.

This summer has already seen veterans Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole depart, leaving just John Terry and Petr Cech from Mourinho's previous reign as manager.

David Luiz has also joined Paris Saint-Germain for £50 million, per Sky Sports, as Mourinho reshapes the squad in his vision.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  Andre Schurrle of Chelsea celebrates scoring his second goal with Nemanja Matic, Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto'o of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on March 22, 2014
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

In the place of those crowd favorites, Chelsea have an exciting group of young players who are capable of challenging their rivals and the expectation is they will come out on top.

Last season's rationale that this is a team in transition is no longer valid, despite Mourinho's suggestion success is going to be even more difficult to achieve.

"Next season will be very, very difficult, even more so," he was quoted as saying in the Evening Standard last week.

"I know Chelsea will be better, but maybe the other teams will be better, too, so it will again be the kind of league where you don’t know if you’re going to finish first or sixth.

"In this moment I have to think and feel and say we want to finish first."

Anything else would be failure and Mourinho knows it.

ALASTAIR GRANT/Associated Press

The Chelsea manager is disliked by some for being forthright in his views, whether it be outlining his opinions regarding Wenger or his own achievements in the game.

Unlike many, he has often had it in his repertoire to not only justify his stance, but also deliver, backing up his approach with trophies.

It's why Chelsea fans adore him; it's why Roman Abramovich welcomed him back to Stamford Bridge last summer in a bid to restore the club's reputation.

Should those qualities elude him next season, Mourinho is going to need all his guile to wriggle out of it.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes


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