Chelsea are entering a new era. This is the opinion I have come to formulate recently.
The Mourinho era came and went with success, with that success came trophies, and with those trophies came a cult following and mutual love between the "Special One" and his adoring fans, me included. Winning six trophies in three years can do that for a man. Mourinho is undoubtedly the most successful manager Chelsea have ever seen.
Although Chelsea put in some great and memorable performances in those three years, the style of football was widely criticised. They would often take the lead and then sit back to hold on to it, rather than pushing on for more goals.
There was no doubting the superb defensive qualities of the likes of Terry, Carvalho and Cech, to name a few. But the midfield and attack were at times disjointed, and the 4-5-3 system effectively deployed a lone striker who was often left literally "alone". So there was little "flair" to Chelsea's football, and many people described it as "boring" and "negative". I however, did not care, as long as we were winning.
When Mourinho left, I, along with the whole of West London (well, the Chelsea side), felt betrayed. Not by him, but by the "forces that be" who the press portrayed as ruthless in their sacking of him.
There was also however, a tiny nagging in my stomach that told me a team of Chelsea's stature, with the millions of Roman Abromavich, the best fans in the world, and some of the most revered players in the game, could find a Manager who would not only be as successful as Mourinho, but would bring with him the beautiful, flair football that Chelsea fans have been missing since the great team of the 70's.
Avram "average" Grant, was always going to be the short term replacement in my eyes. He stepped into Mourinho's shoes from the director of football position, inherited Mourinho's team and players, and never put his mark on the team. Many say he did well and was unlucky to get the sack, I however, do not agree.
He is not a "big game" manager. This was proved when he lost the Carling Cup Final to Tottenham, was knocked out of the FA Cup by Barnsley, lost in the Champions League Final to Man Utd, and came second in the league.
I am not jumping on the bandwagon. I said he was not good enough after watching Chelsea lose to Tottenham in the Carling Cup Final from my wet Wembley Seat. He tinkered with the team, did not start Ballack, and we were overrun completely.
I was happy to see the back of him. I was even happier to see the front of Scolari walking through the gates to take over. A man who has won a World Cup, a man who plays defensive, cautious football, but gives his flair players the freedom to do what they do best.
This and the acquisition of Deco has had Chelsea firing on all cylinders in the preseason. Barring a penalties defeat to Locomotiv Moscow, in Scolari's short reign Chelsea have won three games and scored 14 goals. I have read the post match reviews and they are exciting to say the least. Don't forget, apart from two new players (Deco and Bosingwa), this is the same Chelsea team Avram Grant took over.
I can see the beginning of a new era at the Chelsea Football Club and I shall be there, in the Matthew Harding Lower, cheering it in with my Blue and White Scarf.
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