Is this Chelsea squad stronger than Mourinho’s 05/06 winners?
Following Chelsea’s narrow 2-1 away win against lowly Shrewsbury in the Capital One Cup, a competition they are 12/5 favourites to win with Coral, manager Jose Mourinho has said his fringe players didn’t impress enough to keep their place.
“I expect people that have not been playing a lot to raise their level and create problems,” said Mourinho. “I love problems of choice, but it’s easy to choose my team for Saturday.”
These revelations got Coral’s writers thinking. Is this current crop of Chelsea players as good as the squad the Portuguese manager had at his disposal in his first stint, when they went on to retain their Premier League crown?
In 2004, when Mourinho first joined the Blues, off the back of a remarkable Champions League victory with Porto, he had a decent squad, and added his own signings. Chelsea won the title, because, quite simply they were the best in the league. However, it is arguably in his second season when he had a more complete squad.
There seems to be a pattern emerging. Brought back to the club before the start of last season, to restore success to Stamford Bridge long-term, Mourinho had a strong squad, though decided to work with what he had and offered players the chance to impress. Although the Blues, 6/1 to break the record Premier League points tally of 96 this term, went close to winning the title, they just didn’t have the requisite strength in depth.
This summer, Mourinho knew who he wanted, and recruited wisely, however did he think about the strength of his personnel beyond the first team.
In the 2005/06 season, he could field two teams in the 4-3-3 system that he brought to west London, though this is how the squads from then and now compare.
Chelsea squad 2005/06
Goalkeepers: Petr Cech, Carlo Cudicini; Defenders: Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, William Gallas; Glen Johnson, Robert Huth, Michael Mancienne, Asier del Horno; Midfield: Claude Makelele, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard; Lassana Diarra, Geremi, Eidur Gudjohnsen; Attack: Arjen Robben, Damien Duff, Didier Drogba; Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole, Hernan Crespo.
Chelsea squad 2014/15
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Petr Cech; Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Filipe Luis; Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake, Cesar Azpilicueta; Deep-lying Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas; Ramires, John Obi Mikel; Attacking Midfield: Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Mohammed Salah, Loic Remy, Andre Schurrle; Striker Diego Costa, Didier Drogba.
When looking at the two squads, there is no doubt each one has strength, though Chelsea’s second string from the 2005/06 is arguably better in quality, especially in defence. Mourinho stated when he took over the club in his first stint in charge, that he liked to have two capable players for every position and a top-drawer backup goalkeeper.
In the 2005/06 season, however, Mourinho could also call on loan signing Maniche and Carlton Cole, as cover. There is no doubt that in the goalkeeping department, the Blues are stronger than they’ve ever been this term, with Courtois and Cech both considered world class.
To compete seriously on all fronts, Chelsea probably need three more players who can increase the competition for places slightly. Adding a centre back, another attacker to play behind the striker, and another frontman would definitely make it the strongest squad the Blues have ever had.