After filling the role of the “little horse” in last season’s title race, José Mourinho is predicting that his new-look Chelsea squad are finally ready to dominate English football once again having secured most of his main transfer targets this summer.
Since finishing third behind Manchester City and Liverpool last season two club stalwarts, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, have joined the Brazil defender David Luiz in leaving Stamford Bridge, while Chelsea have spent more than £75m on Cesc Fábregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luís and also brought Didier Drogba back to London for a second spell. Now Mourinho believes he has everything he needs to mount a serious challenge on all fronts.
“We have the squad that we want to have,” he said. “It is a squad for tomorrow, for next season and also a squad with big possibilities for the next five or 10 years with so many young people. So I like my squad very much.
“I love the club because the club was fantastic and gave me the three targets I was asking for, in the left-back, a midfield player and a striker. In fact they gave me two strikers because Didier is also back.
“We have bought three people in Filipe, Diego and Fábregas, all in the best stage for a football player – between 25 and 30. They are three experienced players with the quality to strengthen immediately our team.”
Chelsea begin their new campaign on Monday night with a trip to newly promoted Burnley. Three losses to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland – who put paid to Mourinho’s record of 77 Premier League home games without defeat – virtually ended their hopes of regaining the league title in the Portuguese’s first season back at Stamford Bridge.
However, the manager has warned that his players have learned from that experience and expects them to make amends this time.
“The squad improves, for sure, and the team can show qualities on the pitch that in the past we didn’t,” he said.
“But obviously this is the Premier League and every team tries to be better, especially at the top. Are we ready for that? Yes, we are but this is England.
“In other countries the title race is between two teams and sometimes only one. Here it is between five or six.”
Meanwhile, Everton have confirmed the signing of Ghana winger Christian Atsu on a season-long loan from Chelsea.