Jose Mourinho the self-proclaimed “Happy One” has a wealth of riches in attacking midfield for his second stint at Chelsea. That’s why today’s announcement of Andre Schurrle’s signing is odd, especially given the praise heaped on Kevin De Bruyne who is coming off an outstanding loan season with Werder Bremen.
The declaration that Frank Lampard is a likely starter means that Chelsea is going to have a lot of talent sitting on the bench and potentially being discontent. Eden Hazard is an automatic starter out wide in most people’s eyes, while Juan Mata was one of the best players in the Premier League in the recently completed season. Oscar can always be played wide, but he tends to push into spaces in the middle of the pitch crowding space. Manchester City experienced this issue with David Silva and Samir Nasri last term, which often meant the more tactically disciplined James Milner got the call ahead of the technically adept Nasri.
Ramires is a tactically flexible and versatile player who can be deployed in multiple positions, so he will likely find a spot in the setup somewhere if not in the midfield.
The previously dubbed “Special One” loved using pure wingers in his first stint as Chelsea manager. Damien Duff and Arjen Robben were two of the most influential and underappreciated players in Chelsea’s back-to-back title winning teams. Should Mourinho want to play the same way, Victor Moses often a forgotten man in League play last season, would then likely emerge as an important factor, further confusing the rotation of midfielders.
So with Lampard, De Bruyne, Mata, Oscar, Moses, Hazard, Ramires and now Schurrle fighting for four spots on the pitch, Mourinho is going to be pressed into making decisions unless he wants to rotate much like his predecessor Rafael Benitez did. That policy led to much criticism of the manager both at Liverpool and at Chelsea, but perhaps if anyone can sell it, the “Special One” can.
Player for player, Chelsea looks a sure bet to contend for the Premier League title in the upcoming season. But Mourinho is going to have to play master psychologist to keep his squad happy and hungry in the upcoming season.