As a contributor who always saw beauty in the so-called beast of last season’s Chelsea, I’m enjoying the beauty in the new so-called beautiful Chelsea. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of our beastly nature, not if we are going to win the Champions League this year. Which the signs indicate is our priority this season.
And aren’t we looking beautiful. Two games in and it’s all wingers, twin strikers and a two-man central midfield. The ball goes to feet, one-two, in behind, quick, precise and players move, dragging defenders around, running into space. And Jose Mourinho looks beautiful. Better haircut (always a clear sign of a man’s inner state of mind) to start the season. Last year’s crop was too hard. It looked mean. Like the teams he put out. Now he’s got it at that perfect length, not too short, not too floppy. And he’s sounding relaxed. Most of his new signings have already impacted: Claudio Pizarro, Florent Malouda and Tal Ben Haim have been great. Steve Sidwell’s not been a disaster and Shaun Wright-Phillips is like a new £21m player, crucial to the new beautiful style. Alex and Daniel Alves will join a buoyant team, barring a repeat of last year’s disaster at Anfield on Sunday. An unlikely prospect. We’ll be too good for that bunch of pretenders.
Commentators have a new Chelsea narrative. Already we’re the new open-style team. We’re more beautiful. The fans are making more noise at home. Everyone’s beautiful and relaxed. Even Roman Abramovich is relaxed. He’s friends with Mourinho again. Peter Kenyon’s relaxed. He simply says we have to win the Champions League a couple of times (to add to our couple of Premier League titles), to establish ourselves as a global brand, and smiles when he says it. So do I detect a theme? A shift in perspective underlying the change of mood? Do the high command care that much about another muck and bullets campaign to win the Premier League at all costs, especially at the cost of the trophy they need to win most?
Personally I think Abramovich and Kenyon would sacrifice the domestic league for what, in business terms, is the big one. And I think Mourinho may have just come on board. It does look like a case of, Let’s have some fun in the league this year. Let’s build our image. Let’s win hearts and minds. Let’s be beautiful. Attack, play prettier and see what we can achieve. Of course, we’ll rely on our team spirit (much in evidence in the second half at Reading) and our never surrender attitude – what else can we do with John Terry as skipper? But this year and next we really, really would like to win the other one.
In which case, be prepared for lots of fun in the Premier League and the continuation of the beautiful style for a while yet. But expect the beast to return when it’s needed in those difficult Continental fixtures that lie ahead.