The Blues eased past Hull City Tigers in their opening fixture of the season with a top performance but much harder tests await...
There was a sense of anticipation amongst everyone at Stamford Bridge as they welcomed another manager but this time it was a very familiar face. It was a face every Chelsea fan was dreaming off, the "Happy One" had returned. Jose Mourinho was home again.
After 5 years and 332 days, Mourinho had finally returned to a place where he is loved and the fans made sure that the Portuguese felt the affection as he was given a grand reception on his second coming.
The streets were filled with the "Special 1" t-shirts, and inside the stadium saw a huge “Welcome back Mourinho” banner hanging from the Shed End. Stadium announcer Neil Barnett seemed to have joined the party as well: “I’m looking forward to announcing this manager more than the last one (Rafa Benitez)”.
The first match of Mourinho’s second spell in-charge began just like the first one. First half goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard were enough to secure a comfortable 2-0 victory for the Blues and although many would argue that club seemed to lack the same intensity as in the second half as opposed to what was seen in the first half. But then it was a reminder for many of the classic Mourinho style.
Chelsea started the game with real intensity and passion as some quick, slick passing by the attacking trio of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne caused all sorts of trouble for Hull City and their efforts were soon rewarded as goalkeeper Allan McGregor punched Fernando Torres on the face in an attempt to clear the ball. Veteran Frank Lampard stepped up but a rare penalty miss by the Chelsea's record goal scorer meant Mourinho had to wait a little longer to celebrate.
De Bruyne then played a through ball which saw Oscar find the back of the net. Mourinho celebrated with his arms high up in the air.
The Blues continued to dominate the newly promoted side and Lampard then came close as his fierce shot was tipped over the crossbar by McGregor. But the England midfielder finally got the better of the Hull goalkeeper after Torres won a free-kick 30 yards from goal. Lampard's vicious strike went flying past McGregor who did get a slight touch but the intensity and the force of the ball was just too much for the Scottish goalkeeper. It was Frank's 204th goal for the club.
Chelsea were rampant and in the mood but McGregor kept Hull City in the game after the he made an excellent save off the line to deny Branislav Ivanovic from point blank range. The newly introduced Goal-line technology was put into practice and the result stood as the referee had judged.
Given the nod ahead of Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba, many predicted this to be the golden opportunity for Fernando Torres to take his chance. However the former Liverpool striker once again disappointed. Even though the he won the penalty and was felled for Lampard's free-kick, his display was pretty ordinary.
Settling in with his fifth Chelsea manager now, chances will be hard to come by for the Spanish international who has endured plenty of criticism ever since his move from Liverpool. With the fans losing faith as well, time is running out for Torres to cement a place in the starting eleven especially with someone like Romelu Lukaku, a hungry and ready to be unleashed striker on the bench awaiting his opportunity.
The second half was a disappointment for the Blues in contrast to the first. Chelsea looked to have settled for what they had and Hull rarely threatened Petr Cech's goal. Andre Schurrle and Marco Van Ginkel were handed their debuts by Mourinho whereas Romelu Lukaku also came on for Fernando Torres.
It was a routine win for Mourinho and his side and although the second half performance could be questioned, the Portuguese manager must be fairly pleased with what he saw. The Blues now face a much tougher test in the coming week against the likes of Aston Villa and David Moyes' Manchester United.
"I'm happy we managed to win and that we managed to show this is the football we want to play. You can't play (the) way we did at start for 90 minutes ... the 3 boys behind Torres were fantastic in 1st half. 2nd half they disappeared"
Mourinho's post match comments made complete sense as he blamed the mid-week international fixtures for his side's lacklusture second half display but that should not be much of a worry as Juan Mata, Victor Moses and David Luiz will be back in the squad for the midweek game against Villa.
This is a Chelsea very different from the one Mourinho had last time around. The squad is under construction and has some of the finest young talents. There are no untouchables unlike Mourinho's previous stint but if he can wave his magic wand just like he did before, they could be even better than the the team he assembled almost a decade ago.
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