Last season, Chelsea almost went all the way in the Champions League, succumbing to a late collapse in the 2nd leg of the semi final against Athletico Madrid. In the league, they only needed 4 wins to secure the title, but could not pull it off. All of this was despite missing several crucial pieces to the squad. Mourinho identified these gaps early on, and as soon as last season ended, the club went out and acquired the players Mourinho needed.
Enter the Mourinho factor to winning the league.
The strikers were cleared out, and better ones brought in. A new left back was acquired, and Courtois was brought back from his loan. Chelsea also brought in Fabregas, who turned out to be the midfield general the team needed. Deadwood was cleared out, and promising young players sent out on loan. The result? Mourinho crafted a well balanced squad, that had a mix of talented young players with exciting potential, veterans who were in the prime of their career, and seasoned war dogs who had the experience to guide the squad through any challenge.
But having the right players isn’t enough, if there is no strategy on how to use them. And here, this season we saw Mourinho at his best, he was Ender in Ender’s Game. For those of you who never read the book, the short synopsis is that Ender is a genius kid, with a talent for strategy and leadership. He is given command of an army made up of the youngest kids in the battle school, the weakest, the smallest. the rejects.
However, unknown to the rest of the school, these kids are individually the best, and when put under the leadership of Ender, turn into the most feared army in battle school, routinely demolishing armies made up of kids who were significantly older and bigger and faster. Why? Ender turned his army into a machine that was infinitely adaptable. It could respond to any challenge, adapt to any problem, and find the resolve and steel to grind out results when needed.
The Mourinho factor has crafted this Chelsea side into an infinitely adaptable weapon. The squad can do anything he wishes for them to do, for as long as he wants them to do. This season, Chelsea played every kind of game: Possession-heavy styles with quick incisive passing, possession-heavy styles against teams that park the bus, defensive styles against more attacking teams with reliance on counter attacks, high pressing defensive games to force teams into errors.
Chelsea have also had to adapt to numerous challenges: teams that rely on long balls into the box, critical injuries to Diego Costa and Fabregas, suspensions, congested fixture schedules. And in almost every test, Chelsea have responded with the result. In effect, the Mourinho factor has created a pragmatic side, that has no fixed style, and adapts based on the opponent that day. Being so flexible is what won the title, and being flexible is what will see Chelsea have sustained success going into the future.