Throughout last season, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho played down his side’s chances of winning any major silverware.
The Portuguese claimed that his team was going through a transitional period and will be ready to make an assault on the Premier League title in the 2014-15 campaign.
The Blues still finished third in the league, just four points behind eventual champions Manchester City, and also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Yet, for a truly big club like Chelsea no trophy in a season denotes (or should denote) failure, which is why Mourinho has to win a major title this season – three successive years without any silverware will be unprecedented for someone who calls himself the ‘Special One’.
Mourinho may have won La Liga and the Copa del Rey once each in his three years at Real Madrid, but the 51-year-old ‘failed’ in his quest to win the Champions League – which Carlo Ancelotti did in his debut season in Spain in 2013-14.
The former Inter Milan boss’s final season (2012-13) at Madrid was trophyless, and so was his first at Chelsea (2013-14) in his second spell at Stamford Bridge. If he goes without winning anything this campaign, then Mourinho is not only in danger of losing his job at the Premier League club, but also of losing his self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ status.
There can be no doubt that Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world, perhaps even the best, but in football, as in life, one simply cannot rest on one's laurels. Mourinho could boast how he led unfancied Porto to Champions League success in 2004 and made history with Inter in 2009-10, but that is in the past.
Luiz Felipe Scolari, Fabio Capello, Marcello Lippi and even current Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal have all won major honours as managers in their careers, but they all lost their jobs at some point after achieving success because they could not retain it.
The 2014-15 campaign will be pivotal for Mourinho in his managerial career, especially as he has heavily invested in his Chelsea squad and strengthened it massively.
Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis are set to readily slot into the starting line-up, while club legend Didier Drogba will still add goals as a substitute.
Of course, there have been departures from Stamford Bridge, most notable of which are David Luiz, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o, but even then the four-time English champions have a solid squad with the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard, John Terry and Gary Cahill all going strong. And in the returning Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea have one of the top three goalkeepers in the world.
City had the best squad in England last season and they deservedly won the Premier League title. Of all their challengers this term, Chelsea have closed the gap most in terms of personnel, and they could still add more reinforcements (and so could Manuel Pellegrini’s side).
However, the pressure is on Mourinho, who won’t be the ‘Special One’ anymore if he goes another season without winning anything. Because you are not ‘special’ if you fail three years in a row.