I am watching Chelsea this season
I have never really been a fan of Chelsea.
I started to take a little interest in the English club when Jose Mourinho and later Mikel Obi joined the club some10 years ago.
What did the great Mourinho see in this unknown young, tall, thin and straggly player from Nigeria to make the fight over him with Manchester United so fierce, protracted and bitter? Mourinho, was not one reputed for wasting precious time on frivolities.
His style usually is to assemble well-established players, develop a good defensive strategy that frustrates opposing teams and creates several counter-attacking options. The he will plant one or two sharpshooters up front to deliver killer punches when the opportunities come.
It is a simple but effective formula that he has deployed in every one of the many clubs he has handled in Europe and has succeeded, mostly. His increasing chest of European Club trophies is clear evidence that the strategy that has earned him the name ‘the special one’ works.
So, for Mourinho to have recruited Mikel at 18 simply meant that the lad must have been truly special. This new season Mourinho and Mikel have re-united again. This development attracts some interest but that is not what has caught my full attention.
What does is another deft and totally unexpected move by Mourinho to bring in an African player, considered to be already in the twilight of his career, to take charge of his blunt attack in Chelsea this season.
The moment Manchester United denied Mourinho the services of Wayne Rooney, he went in search of Samuel Eto’o Fils, one of his former ‘warriors’ at Inter Milan. Eto’o is a true legend of African football and the most successful, accomplished and honoured African football player in history.
Samuel Eto’o played in six African Cup of Nations championships; won two; scored the highest number of goals (18) in the championship’s history; was named Africa’s Best Player four times; won the European Champions League three times with two clubs (Inter Milan and Barcelona); won an Olympic Gold medal with Cameroon and is reported to be, currently, the highest paid footballer in history.
Meanwhile, his total goal haul in European football is unmatched by any African player, ever.
That’s the man that, at a ripe age of 32, Mourinho has recruited to do the job – a job he has little confidence Fernando Torres, and a few other pretenders currently in the team’s striking role, can do.
This will also be, for Eto’o, a totally new experience. In all his illustrious career, all over Europe, he never played in the Premiership. So, this is a totally unexpected, exciting but challenging move that will mark, even at this late stage of his career, another first for him.
That’s why I am excited.
How will he fare? How will he cope and justify the confidence and risk that Mourinho is taking by bringing him to the difficult Barclays Premier League?
How much more can his body, ravaged by age and crunchy tackles, take? How will the several injuries he has sustained in the past few years affect his performance in a league that requires extra sharpness, speed and ruggedness for a striker to succeed?
This latest move has captured the imagination of the football world and the next few months will reveal either the genius or the folly of ‘the Special One’. If he succeeds it will definitely reinforce the view of those who say that Jose Mourinho is the ultimate mastermind of the game of football.
I have never been a fan of Chelsea.
Yet, it does not matter whether anyone likes the club or not. This season many people, like me, will be caught up in following Jose Mourinho’s return to the Premiership and to Chelsea, plus the anticipated drama of the entry into the BPL of Africa’s greatest striker of all time as he leads the attack of ‘the Blues’ .
This season I shall be watching a lot of Chelsea.