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Does Chelsea’s New Style Suit Mourinho?

Jose-Mourinho-ChelseaWith Jose Mourinho set to join Chelsea on July 1st, and Chelsea fans chanting his name at games, nobody seems to be asking whether Mourinho is the best manager for the new Chelsea.

When Mourinho took over at Chelsea the first time, he revitalized the club. In his first season he won the Premier League title with a record 95 points, the club’s first league title in 50 years, and the League Cup. In his second year Chelsea retained the Premier League and in 2006–07 he took the club to an FA Cup and League Cup double, though they finished as league runners-up.

One of the factors that led to Special One getting fired by Chelsea was their style of play. Roman Abramovich has fallen in love with the tiki-taka style of play that Barcelona and Spain have made so famous and he has built his team around small technical players like Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar.

But that is not Mourinho’s style of play. Mou prefers power. He likes the core of his team to be made up of warriors, leaders, toughness and heart. His original Chelsea side epitomized this and was built around John Terry, Claude Makélélé, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

Today’s Chelsea has Luiz, Ramires, Mata and Torres. All skillful, but not exactly warriors.

One reason why Chelsea have struggled this season is this lack of warriors. The team has a soft underbelly. Mourinho would change that, but can he do that while playing pretty football? Or will Abramovich be satisfied if Chelsea win ugly?

What Mourinho might do, is take a page out of Bayern Munich’s playbook. Bayern this year have combined the tiki-taka style of Barca with the power of Real Madrid. Can Mou turn Chelsea into a version of Bayern?

If he cannot, I don’t expect the Special One’s return to Stamford Bridge to be a success. Yes, they will win titles. Mourinho is too good a manager for them not to do that. But eventually Mourinho wants to win, regardless of whether it is pretty or not. And Abramovich wants to win pretty. And I don’t see them as compatible visions for Chelsea.