Maya Yoshida’s Southampton future appears to be in doubt after a lack of first team football. The Japanese international was dropped by his national side after a poor Confederations Cup campaign, and may feel that he needs more playing time to secure his spot on the plane to Rio. One of the first names on the team-sheet last year, Yoshida has found himself on the fringes of the first team. He was overlooked to replace the ill Dejan Lovren on Saturday at the Emirates, with Jos Hooiveld picked instead. With his performances for Saints not meriting being dropped at the start of this season, you can only imagine that something has gone on behind the scenes. The Guardian reported that one international player had complained about having to report to training after returning from an international break. It was reported that Pochettino had threatened to drop the player from the first team if they disagreed with his methods. By a process of elimination, this player could have been either Yoshida, Gaston Ramirez or Dani Osvaldo. Both Ramirez and Yoshida both have long trips back from international duty, so it makes it more likely that they would want an extended break upon their return. But Ramirez’s form for Southampton since his arrival last summer has been indifferent, so would be more likely to face the chop. Osvaldo’s petulant nature makes him a prime candidate to be the unnamed player, however his exclusion from the first team also seem to be merited, having only scored one goal this season.
Deluded Chelsea fans have forced Roman Abramovich in to surrendering the league title and strip apart a successful team. Since Rafa Benitez was named interim boss last year, fans clamoured for the return of ‘the special one’, with this blinding them from what Benitez achieved.
Mourinho is returning to the Bridge after “[his] worst season as a manager”, where a feud with club captain and Real Madrid icon Iker Cassillas blew up in to a full scale players revolt against him. His touchline antics in Spain, such as poking Pep Guardiola in the eye, led to Andreas Iniesta claiming that “he damaged Spanish football”.
Although rows with the likes on John Terry and Frank Lampard seem unlikely, neither is guaranteed first team football, but nor will they be contempt with a place on the bench all season.
Another thing to look out for is the deconstruction of a potential world-beating side. Mourinho has reportedly told David Luiz, who his touted by many as a future Chelsea captain, that he “will be sold if he doesn’t stick to his role”. Then there is the system, a 4-2-3-1, including 2 hard-working wingers who he expects to track back. This system has already seen the demise of Joe Cole and Luca Modric, who’s careers stagnated under Mourinho. The same fate is likely to affect two out of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar. This would rip apart what was looking one of the most fearsome attacks in the world.
One positive of Mourinho’s return though is that we are likely to see Romelu Lukaku playing regularly for Chelsea. Mourinho likes strikers in the ‘Drogba mould’, and Lukaku is essentially Drogba without the diving or petulance. Although this has led to rumours that Fernando Torres is on his way out of Stamford Bridge, Demba Ba is surely the more likely option to be up for sale. Ba, although a decent Premier League striker who will score 15-20 goals a season, is not the calibre of player needed to challenge for the League and Champions League. Torres, however, showed with his form in last season’s Europa League that he is on the road to recovering his best form.
Torres’ form, as well as Chelsea’s Europa League win and solid 3rd place in the Premier League was down to the management of Rafa Benitez. Benitez’s squad management got the Blues through 69 games last seasons with relatively few mishaps. Chelsea would be in better stead for a title challenge with Benitez at the helm, but the fans’ sentiment forced him out.