Grading Jose Mourinho on Chelsea's 2014/15 Premier League Season

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2015

Grading Jose Mourinho on Chelsea's 2014/15 Premier League Season

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    Now the Premier League season is over, it's about looking back before we can look ahead.

    The major awards have been given out already, with Eden Hazard sweeping the board. Chelsea's Belgian won the PFA Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year and was also named Chelsea's Player of the Year.

    In what has gone down as a memorable campaign for Chelsea, Jose Mourinho was also named the Barclays Manager of the Year for 2014/15.

    It's clear how well Mourinho did at Stamford Bridge this term, but looking somewhat closer at the manager's performance, where did his success come from?

    How did Mourinho fare with the big decisions, his tactics and the players he signed? Did he manage his players properly? And what about his media relations, that left a lot to be desired at times?

    Join Bleacher Report as we grade Mourinho on those five key areas of his management of Chelsea in 2014/15.

Signings

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    A big part of Chelsea's success in 2014/15 was how swift the club proved in the transfer market.

    Before the 2014 World Cup had even kicked off, Jose Mourinho had added Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas to his team, with Filipe Luis, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy later being added.

    It was the capture of Costa and Fabregas that proved the difference, however.

    In 2013/14, despite lacking any real balance and needing some fine-tuning, Chelsea had come close to lifting the Premier League.

    Mourinho's description of his team as a "little horse" was largely derided, but his point was clear; Chelsea needed to add some maturity to the talent they already had, which the manager did.

    Mourinho identified the weak areas, and within weeks of the 2013/14 season being over, he had strengthened considerably.

    Grade: A

Big Decisions

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    The theory is that once the referee blows his whistle in a game, a manager's job is done. Then it is down to the players to win football matches.

    It carries some truth, but the best managers are those who cast that window aside. They kick every ball and study the development of games meticulously.

    Jose Mourinho does that, and when the time called for it, he got a lot of the big decisions right in 2014/15.

    Famed for making subs at the right time, Mourinho continues to dominate from the dug out.

    When Nemanja Matic was suspended for two matches after his red card against Burnley in February, the decision to pick Kurt Zouma in defensive midfield was an inspired one.

    The manager was bold in that instance, surprising everyone when Zouma was fielded against Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup final and West Ham United a few days later.

    That decision was instrumental in getting Chelsea two big wins, and when the Blues faced Manchester United a month later, Zouma was on hand to keep Marouane Fellaini out of the game.

    The manager didn't score the goals for Chelsea, but he put everything in place for them to be successful.

    Grade: A

Tactics

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    A part of those big decisions that Jose Mourinho had to make throughout 2014/15 were his tactics.

    And boring or not, Mourinho got it right.

    The biggest decision tactically from Mourinho came after New Year's Day. Chelsea had been well beaten 5-3 by Tottenham Hotspur and there were big questions over whether that could spell the end of their title hopes.

    Chelsea remained top—just the power of the alphabet separating them and Manchester City—but the big issue was how Spurs had ripped through them.

    Mourinho had seen his team playing too openly; things needed to be tightened up. Which they were.

    Indeed, Chelsea had already proved difficult enough to beat in the first half of the season, and they became even more so after that 5-3 loss, losing just one more game in the Premier League.

    That defeat came against West Bromwich Albion, long after the title had been wrapped up, though.

    Chelsea finished on top by being pragmatic. Free-flowing in the first half of the campaign, Mourinho wasn't going to get into a slugging match and let the Premier League slip away from him.

    Chelsea closed up shop, went on the counter and, like they had before Christmas, proved too good for the rest.

    They did all that without Diego Costa at full fitness, too.

    Grade: A

Player Management

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    The one thing that remains true about the teams Jose Mourinho coaches is his relationship with the players. Put simply, they adore him as much as he does them.

    Mourinho looks out for his players; he protects them in the media, against referees and also knows when to give them to time off to relax and recuperate.

    Mourinho's approach is clear: if the players give him everything, he'll give the same back.

    Despite their riches, Chelsea were among the clubs to use the least number of players in the Premier League this season. There were some tired legs come the end of the campaign, yet it says a lot about Mourinho's man management that they suffered few serious injuries and had enough to get over the line.

    Throughout 2014/15, the likes of Eden Hazard and John Terry were given holidays during downtime, which allowed the latter to partake in some high-altitude training while his family were skiing in the Alps.

    Diego Costa also benefited from Mourinho's eagerness to ease him back into action to safeguard him from aggravating his hamstrings.

    It was a concern all season, but the fact Chelsea got so much football out of Costa shows Mourinho did things right by his players.

    Grade: A

Media Relations

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    This is the one area where Jose Mourinho let himself down this season—a factor he admitted himself before the end of 2014/15.

    Mourinho used the media to push many things, notably the notion of there being a "campaign" against Chelsea, and that created a bigger storm than there needed to be.

    Indeed, it took the focus of what he was attempting to highlight, which was the fact that Chelsea were on the receiving end of a number of poor refereeing decisions.

    "We had lots of mistakes against us, that's the reality, but that's football. Maybe 'campaign' is not a nice word. Maybe I would take that word out from my explanation and my comments, but that's the reality," he later conceded, per Sky Sports.

    Mourinho's actions in the media are clear—he's trying to protect his players and the club.

    Things went a little too far in this instance, but he should be given credit for his defence of Diego Costa in January.

    If Mourinho was guilty for creating the "campaign" talk, the media was equally at fault for whipping up a storm against Costa after his clashes with Liverpool's Emre Can saw him receive a three-match ban.

    That's not to say Costa was innocent in those skirmishes, but the claims of "Diego Costa Crimes" took things too far. Such was the hyperbole, a ban was never out of the question for the Spain international.

    The season wasn't without it's moments, but now Chelsea are champions, the controversies from 2014/15 all seem trivial.

    At one point they threatened to overshadow Chelsea's genius, though, and Mourinho will do well to remember that.

    Grade: C

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes