Jose Mourinho's now infamous ‘little horse’ analogy and his persistent insistence that the Blues were not genuine contenders last term served as something of a protective barrier for criticism last season.
The Portuguese manager and self-proclaimed Special One now should have no such fall back on which to lean.
The signing of Spain striker Diego Costa as well as his national team colleague and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas makes the Blues’ squad stronger than last term.
So far, Mourinho has brought in three players this summer (including Mario Pasalic) to the tune of £65 million, largely financed by the sale of Brazilian defender David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain for £40 million.
The club released a number of veterans in Samuel Eto’o, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Mark Schwarzer, and Henrique Hilario bringing in top talent in the prime of their careers as well as January signings Mohamed Salah, Kurt Zouma, and Nemanja Matic.
“I have a team but no striker. It is not possible for us to win the Premier League,” Mourinho had said last season.
His playing down of Chelsea’s chances of title-glory last term seemed to serve only as a self-fulfilling prophecy as the Blues won no silverware despite a strong run in the Premier League and Champions League.
At the end of last season, he began to change his assertion, insisting he would cease describing the Blues as underdogs:
“I want to start day one saying we are going to fight for the title,” he said at the conclusion of the last campaign. “We don't need a new spine, a new structure. It is there. The fundamental for us now is a couple of players of a certain level to help the team immediately go to a different level.”
Now it appears he intends to do just that – having let a number of the old guard go and bringing in great swathes of talent to the youth teams lying in reserve or out on loan, as well as world class stars for the present, the Special One has his own very special squad with which they can and will compete this term.