It was only when I saw Mourinho in the flesh at Stamford Bridge that it really hit me. A standing ovation and a lovely start to the season with a win against a tough Hull City side. Jose wrote in his programme notes how important the fans were and he was rewarded (at least in the first half) with a quality atmosphere. Even Roman’s name was sung several times! It was the first match in many a moon where we were sat in our seats in the West Upper an hour before kick-off to soak things in.
The performance was typical of Chelsea under Mourinho in the past. Solid and settled, the team knew when to put on the brakes after scoring the vital second goal. No risks were then taken and at last we used all three substitutes when home and dry.
That is not to say it was all plain sailing. Torres and Cole both had average games with the former making some poor decisions and yet again not entirely convincing when it came to body language. Ashley Cole was outpaced and made a couple of elementary mistakes which seemed untypical of him… perhaps too many Marlboro Menthols and WKDs over the summer holidays? Nevertheless, this is still too early to judge fully and there was much to be pleased with.
JT was dominant in defence. Ivanovic frightened the opposition. Cahill was solid. In midfield, some of the touches from Oscar were simply sublime and he was rewarded with a magnificent goal following decent, intricate play in midfield from De Bruyne. Lampard’s free kick was almost unreal in its accuracy to land plum into the corner and made up for a penalty miss (albeit one that was simply well saved). Hazard challenged well but will struggle to convince referees that he has been fouled if he continues to lie pole-axed on the ground after every mild challenge against him (even if they are genuine fouls).
I have not bothered to read the newspapers this morning as I am sure off the field matters will be discussed more than what happened on the pitch. Next it is Aston Villa and I would take another 2-0 win no questions asked. Then we look towards Manchester United away who looked frighteningly at ease against what is supposed to be a good Swansea side. Perhaps the ball boy’s antics from last season is catching up with the Welsh side.
Arsenal’s loss would normally earn a big guffaw from me but I have learnt from the past not to laugh to early. This is a club that has been run as a business rather than one that is looking to compete with the elite and the real danger for them is not finishing in the top four this season. Tottenham look strong and dare I say it – even Liverpool could be challenging for that top-four spot.
So let us see how Manchester City perform tonight. A solid win for them will signal a tight year. The Premier League is the place to be for now and the fact that the new season has actually started has rarely brought me so much joy and relief. Welcome back to the Special One!