After all the huffing and puffing of the recent transfer season, that at times felt more like a hostage situation than a period for negotiations for every club in Europe -thanks to the hourly updates of Bale’s mood, and bowel movement- Football becomes our main focus again. Forget about Suárez moving to London, Rooney wearing Blue, Mata in a red shirt, etc., and let us concentrate on every big club in Europe playing 7 matches in the next 23 days or a match every three days. With such a massive amount of fixtures, we can expect to see all teams using the entirety of their squads. It will give us, and managers alike, the chance to observe every possible single team combination.
For instance, Mourinho will have no excuse to select most of his players as starters at least once, against real opposition playing for something more than pride, which was not the case during the preseason. Moreover, in Chelsea’s first team case, every single player should see plenty of time on the pitch, assuming they are fit, except for Tomas Kalas, Mceachran, Blackman and Hilario. The first three, because they belong at the under 21 level, are really on the first team in a developmental process through training with the senior players, plus they can feature with the reserves. Also, Hilario by virtue of being the third goalkeeper will only be used in a fire extinguisher kind of scenario. With that in mind, any fit player that is not used or given any significant minutes, from now to October 6th, should start to that realize that he is last (not needed) on the manager’s pecking order and begin the search for a new club to play for in January.
Furthermore, for Chelsea, on that grueling stretch before the next International break, the most important matches are: away at Everton (which they have already suffered a defeat), and at Tottenham 09/28 for the Premier League; and home to Basel for the Champions League. Barring any injuries, because of the importance of winning/capturing points against top five teams in the league, and the need to start off with the right foot in the only competition that eluded Mourinho’s during his first tenure at Chelsea, the team selected by the Portuguese manager on those three or at least two out those three games, will constitute his preferred starting eleven. The remaining 4 matches: Home vs. Fulham, Away vs. Swindon Town, Steaua Bucharest and Norwich City (winnable/less important fixtures on paper) will show us Chelsea’s bench quality level, and how skillful Mourinho is or is not in maximizing his talented squad.
Hence, by October 7th we will know if Torres, Ba and Eto’o gave enough firepower to the team and some unnecessary spending in January will be avoided. Also, if Mata is now getting some truly justified rest from playing every day with Chelsea and Spain the last two seasons, or if he is redundant within Chelsea’s midfield (I believe the former reason. I doubt excellence like Mata’s is redundant in any team regardless of what Mourinho might do). Similarly, we will find out if all the new players (like Van Ginkel) are deserving of a spot in the team instead of their loaned-out Premier League proven teammates (like V.Moses).
Albeit, from Guardiola to Wegner, all the top managers across Europe if they choose to, will have the same chance as Mourinho: to reveal their true intentions with regards to starting lineups, from now to the international break.
Regardless of their intentions, we have ourselves everything that we crave: Football for breakfast, lunch and supper.
PS: I hope Mourinho remains the special one and uses Mata’s special talents to their fullest for the benefit of the fans, the player and the club itself.