'The Special One' continually suggests that the Blues are the 'little horse' in the title race this season, but he has his side perfectly positioned to lift the Premier League trophy once again, sitting in first place after a strong run of form in recent weeks.
Whilst Mourinho has been able to call upon the services of existing Blues stars such as Eden Hazard and Oscar, Mourinho has made a number of decisions in the transfer market which, at the time, were heavily questioned – but they have mostly been great choices by the former Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager.
Most people realised that one of Chelsea's biggest needs in the summer was to bring in a striker, but whilst they were linked with moves for the likes of Falcao and Edinson Cavani, Mourinho took a surprising move by loaning young Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku out to Everton and bringing in 32-year-old Samuel Eto'o, who performed so well for Mourinho at Inter Milan. The consensus was that Mourinho was making a mistake by letting Lukaku go in order to use an ageing striker who had failed to live up to his reputation whilst in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala, but the Cameroon international has contributed well for the Blues as a stop-gap whilst Lukaku continues his development at Goodison Park.
One of the most heavily scrutinised moves of the summer was Chelsea's capture of Willian, also from Anzhi Makhachkala. The Brazilian international looked set for a move to Liverpool before Tottenham Hotspur appeared to trump them for his signing, with the former Shakhtar Donetsk man arriving in London to finalise the deal, only for Mourinho to swoop in and take him to Stamford Bridge. Many thought that Chelsea had only signed the £30m star in order to prevent Spurs from improving, but the 25-year-old has become a key player under Mourinho, turning in a number of impressive displays, showing his athleticism and defensive capabilities alongside his flair in the final third.
Willian's emergence as a key player under Mourinho led to two of the more controversial decisions made by Mourinho this season – the departures of Kevin de Bruyne and Juan Mata. De Bruyne was consistently sat on the sidelines, and with the Chelsea boss questioning his displays in training, it was unsurprising when de Bruyne left to return to Germany, though given his potential, many assumed he would be leaving on loan – but instead, he was sold to Wolfsburg for £17m in a surprising sale.
But the departure of Mata certainly couldn't have been predicted when Mourinho arrived, having scored 20 goals and racked up 35 assists. But Mourinho prefers his players to be more athletically gifted than the Spaniard is, and ultimately found himself out of the team regularly, with Mourinho often even preferring to use Andre Schurrle over the former Valencia man. A move to Paris Saint-Germain was strongly rumoured, but it came as something of a surprise when Mourinho allowed the playmaker to move to Manchester United. On the face of it, Mourinho had strengthened a rival, but he knew that Mata didn't fit the profile of the players he wanted, and despite the backlash he faced from some, went ahead with his plans.
Those plans also included bringing back Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic, who was sold by Chelsea for just £3m in 2011, but was brought back for over seven times that amount, sealing a £22m move in January. Again, many said that Chelsea didn't need to sign Matic and were only bringing him in to prevent Manchester United from signing him, but with no true star holding midfield player, Matic has been able to show his ability to protect the back four with his strength and reading of the game.
With so many titles to his name, maybe it was foolish to question what Mourinho was doing. There have been some onpopular decisions along the way, but Mourinho has his side playing excellently right now, and that's a testament to some of the tough choices he has made.
image: © Голубович Дмитрий