By Shikharr Chandra
Imagine if Rafa Benitez got the Chelsea job on a permanent basis and decided to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United, or to any club in the world for that matter. There would've been riots at Kings Road, fans would swap their A4 size banners for bigger ones, demanding for Benitez's head and few would blame them. Why would anyone want to sell Mata, Chelsea's Player of the Year for the last two seasons?
On Saturday, the Spanish playmaker left the club to join United for a club record fee of €43m. On Sunday, Chelsea faced Stoke City at Stamford Bridge and the chants were not in support of Mata but Jose Mourinho instead. The 40,086 fans at the Bridge sang his name and none questioned his decision to offload Mata. Such has been the impact of Mourinho during his time at the club.
When the Portuguese re-joined Chelsea at the start of the season, there were question marks over his ability to collaborate with the club's hierarchy as Roman Abramovich and Michael Emenalo have regularly been involved with their dealings in the transfer market.
One of the key reasons for Mourinho's departure last time around was his inability to cope with the authorities above him with respect to transfers. Andriy Shevchenko's transfer from AC Milan to Chelsea was one such example. The Ukranian forward joined the Blues on a very high transfer fee but was reportedly not on the list of players Mourinho wanted. Shevchenko ended up being a disaster at the club.
Even under Carlo Ancelotti, the club recruited Fernando Torres from Liverpool for a club record fee despite the Italian not being too keen on the Spanish striker. Torres though still at the club has failed to recreate the form he enjoyed at Liverpool.
During his time at Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho got what he wanted. The Portuguese sold Zlatan Ibrahimovich to Barcelona for Samuel Eto'o plus cash and ended the season with the treble. Even at Madrid where many thought Mourinho would encounter a similar situation like he did at Chelsea, the Portuguese got players that he wanted at the club.
The signings of Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil turned out to be masterstrokes and even though his his time at the Bernabeu didn't end on the best note, he once again showed the respect and trust he commanded from officials at the club.
So far, Mourinho's second coming has indicated a shift in power at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea's transfer activity this season has seen the departures of Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne, Micheal Essien and Romelu Lukaku (loan) and the signings of Andre Schurrle, Willian, Mohammed Salah, Nemanja Matic and Eto'o.
Mata's transfer has been the main topic of discussion. Questions were raised as to whether Mourinho was right to allow the Spaniard go to United, or why he didn't use him more often. The answers were simple - Mata did not suit Mourinho's philosophy and getting a huge transfer fee for a player who has no future at the club seemed to be the right decision.
Should Chelsea have waited to sell Mata at the end of the season or to another club? As Mourinho said the transfer fee was right. Chelsea would not have got the same amount for Mata after the season considering his lack of appearances at the club and although the question of selling a quality player is still up for debate, this is not the first time Mourinho has taken such a big step.
His philosophy of high pressing and quick movement was something Mata could not adjust to for the simple reason that he lacks pace and even though the signing of Willian at the start of the season looked like a luxury, its importance is being felt now.
Both Mata and De Bruyne fetched good money for the club whereas Essien's departure free's up a large amount of wages which will come in handy with the introduction of Financial Fair Play from next season. The new signings at the club are players Mourinho wants. One's who can fit into his style of play rather than the one's Abramovich fancies.
Not many clubs go back to sign a player who they discarded a few years ago especially for a fee as high as €25m, but Matic's signing seems to be the answer to Chelsea's midfield conundrum. The Serbian was impressive against Stoke in the FA Cup with his interceptions and tackling coming to the fore along with his ability to make forward runs and make key passes. He provides balance in the midfield and his presence allowed Frank Lampard to make his trademark darts into the box.
Salah's signing is another example of how Mourinho is planning to take this squad forward. The Egyptian winger scored twice against Chelsea in this season's Champions League group stages, adding to his tally from last season's Europa League when the two sides met.
He is still young and has the attributes Mourinho wants from his wide players. He might not get into the Chelsea starting eleven immidiately but Mourinho can mould him into the kind of player he desires.
Willian on the other hand has been well worth the money for Chelsea with his impressive performances every week and although Schurrle might not be Chelsea's best option, he has time and again shown why Mourinho preferred him over Mata.
Even though many might not like the way Mourinho has handled the whole Mata situation, none can deny the impact he has had at the club. For the first time in two seasons Chelsea look like genuine title contenders and that has happened without the presence of Mata in the squad and much of the credit has to go to Chelsea's change in approach under Mourinho.
Whether Mourinho's recruits shine or not is to be seen but by the looks of things, signing players that the manager wants seems to be the right decision by the Chelsea board so far.
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