When Jose Mourinho took control of Chelsea again in the summer a number of players in the team would have been excited at the potential for a new lease of life at the club - but perhaps none more so than Michael Essien.
The Ghanaian was a Mourinho signing at Stamford Bridge and last season he became a vital cog of the Real Madrid side as a loan signing from The Blues.
His ability to play across the back four as well as his preferred midfield position made him a useful tool in La Liga - and Mourinho utilised him with aplomb.
And against Southampton yesterday he was given a chance to shine once again. Chelsea have struggled in recent weeks in the holding midfield area, with Frank Lampard in particular struggling to adapt to a new defensive role this season.
Essien was therefore drafted in to play alongside Ramires - for his first Premier League start of the season, and only his second league appearance of the campaign so far.
However, it was a game to forget for Essien. The midfielder started as he meant to go on with a woeful mistake which gifted Southampton the lead. The Saints put pressure on the Chelsea kick-off and when the ball popped up to Essien on the half-volley he played an ambitious lofted back-pass to Petr Cech - which landed in the path of Jay Rodriguez, who duly gave the away side the lead.
Essien continued to struggle throughout the first half - obviously showing that he was off the pace after spending the majority of the campaign watching from the side-lines.
And the display was perpetuated by a desperate dive which earned him a yellow card.
In the end Essien was hauled off at half-time for Demba Ba - and Chelsea immediately responded, going on to win 3-1 as things fell apart for an injury struck Saints team.
Essien’s performance was widely panned, and although Jose Mourinho admits he made a mistake he refused to condemn one of his favourite players:
"Everybody makes a mistake. He had a very normal performance. He played the same way Mikel plays or when Luiz plays in midfield. He played his part in the stability of the team but one yellow card for 45 minutes is a long time. I had to take one [him or Ramires off]. But he's my man, he's a Chelsea man and it's no problem."
But what did Chelsea fans make of his performance?
We gauged some of the reaction on Twitter...
Essien one of Chelsea's greatest players of the last decade. Once the best midfielder in the world. Not great to see him going though this.— Dan Levene (@BluesChronicle) December 1, 2013
A lot of people slagging Essien, I see. He had a poor game and JM saw this. No need for all the oprobrium though- he's been brilliant for us— Ronnie (@TruroBlue) December 1, 2013
Bit of an overreaction to Essien's rather poor display today. Let's not forget him bossing Arsenal's midfield in the Capital One Cup #cfc— Ibrahim Salha (@ibzo) December 1, 2013
Sorry for Essien...1st premier league start...concedes a poor goal, get a yellow and gets substituted @ half-time. Couldn't have been worse!— Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako (@ABKwaku) December 1, 2013
That is not even a schoolboy error for that goal by Essien - just terrible!— Brendan Naiker (@BrendanN37) December 1, 2013
Essien has been awful. Take him off Mou— the Real McCoy! (@Princewill__) December 1, 2013
This is horrible to watch. Essien is badly struggling— EKEL PHESIAYO (@Fowosere_CFC) December 1, 2013
Essien embarrassing himself lol if that backpass werent bad enough that dive was something else— Harry Ellis (@harryellis06) December 1, 2013
image: © Live4Soccer(L4S)