Saturday 22 October 2016

Mourinho is now the Premier League king

WHEN José Mourinho agreed to return to Chelsea after a troubled time at Real Madrid and at roughly the same time as Alex Ferguson retired, the way was open to him to become the top man in the Premier League.

Yesterday as Roman Abramovich and Mourinho smiled widely while they watched John Terry lead the celebrations, I couldn't help thinking that they can do this as often as they want.

Sure, there will be a challenge from Manchester, United or City and maybe Arsenal but for me, Mourinho is head and shoulders above the rest and he'll be very hard to stop.

I expect a few more players will swap their current colours for blue in the summer and given the profile of Mourinho's squad, they will be strikers and good ones.

That will address the one weakness in Mourinho's group and make his squad as complete as it will ever be.

It is a frightening thought. Add in a couple of marquee strikers and Mourinho will have a truly powerful squad and one which should be an improvement on this model.

They certainly didn't have the strength in depth to sustain the swashbuckling, free-scoring style they showed for the first half of the season.


Mourinho realised this in that watershed moment when Spurs hammered his team 5-3 and showed him that his players had slipped from the high level of organisation he insists on.

That game convinced him that a much less flamboyant approach was required to secure the title.

Chelsea lead the Premier League by 16 points and even though I found Mourinho's willingness to hog the credit ahead of his players nauseating last week, I don't think it would be unfair to say that he is responsible for every one of them.

Sharp-eyed Liverpool fans will have noticed that I didn't include Anfield as one of the likely environments for a title challenge next season and that is simply because I have no idea what is going to happen this summer.

I don't know whether Raheem Sterling will leave or not. I do know that Stevie Gerrard will be gone by the time August rolls around but I don't who will be brought in to replace him.

The biggest question of all, of course, revolves around Brendan Rodgers.

There's still an outside chance of making the Top Four and while that remains, no final judgement can be or will be made.

My own gut instinct is to leave Rodgers at it and give him the money to buy three or four top quality players. But even as I write that, I know I've been saying the same now for many, many seasons and we always seem to end up back in the same place.

On a purely practical level, there are many mitigating factors which explain the season Liverpool have had and they've all been mentioned more than once.

The problems began in Brazil and you only have to see Luis Suarez beginning to bang in important goals for Barcelona to realise how big a loss he was.

Rodgers took a long time to figure out a way to move forward and he did that without Daniel Sturridge.

In other words he lost two 20 plus goals-a-season men but still found a way to just about stay in touch.

There are things about Rodgers which concern me.

Like many others, I wish he wouldn't talk as much as he does and wish he didn't so often say things which, as the words drop out of his mouth, feel like they will trip him up before long.

I'm worried about the players he bought. A lot of money left Anfield last summer and I don't think there was a halfway decent return on the investment.

And I worry about the players he might buy. Most of all, I worry whether it is actually him buying the players at all and how many opinions must be accommodated before a decision is made.

I don't know what the mechanics of all of that are and for that reason, find it difficult to lump the blame for a disappointing season at Rodgers' doorstep.

For what it's worth, I'd like to see Rodgers allowed to make his own destiny. Buy the players he wants and forget about the policy of spending for the future. We need them now.

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