Chelsea’s Brazilian David Luiz does not have complete command of the English language but it did not take him long to identify the word he needed on Wednesday night to describe what it means for his club not to win a trophy this season.
“We are a big club and we want to win trophies,” Luiz said. “But the most important thing is the personalities. We need to fight in many situations. This is sport, this is football. Everyone speaks about results. You can say it is a shit season if you don’t have trophies in a season at a big club, that is true.
“But in the end you need to remember everyone here is human. Everyone gave their best all season, everyone can make mistakes – that is normal. But you cannot hide yourself from any situations.”
The situation that faces Chelsea for the first time since the 2010-11 season, Luiz’s first at the club, is going without a trophy unless they manage to wrest the league title away from Manchester City and Liverpool. It is an unlikely scenario but not implausible, although Chelsea need others to drop points.
A summer without a trophy at Stamford Bridge always feels dangerous for the manager, and in his three years there Luiz has seen Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo leave – not to mention Rafa Benitez – having won four major trophies between them. For Jose Mourinho, though, there will be more patience from the ever-so-slightly demanding Roman Abramovich.
In the 3-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, Chelsea performed like a side who had played three big games in nine days and had very little left to give, although Mourinho’s strange insistence that the game was over after Atletico’s second goal rang a little hollow given there were 32 minutes remaining to score two goals at home.
Yet if this is to be a season in which Mourinho does not win a trophy then at least his predictions at the start of the season – of a young team that needed to be coached and would be ready to challenge in the following campaign – will be proven true.
He has said all along that he expects to be judged on his second season at the club, when the squad will be built more to his requirements than the one he inherited.
It is instructive that Chelsea are looking at the Cardiff City midfielder Mats Daehli, signed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from his former club Molde in January, as a potential signing. The Norwegian teenager is the kind of hard-working midfielder Mourinho rates highly and the club believes his time spent previously at the Manchester United academy would mean he qualifies as home-grown.
The home-grown issue is a key one for Chelsea as they assess the profile of the squad this summer with the futures of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole in the balance. While one or even all could be retained, Chelsea need to increase their home-grown quotient having been forced to name 23 rather than 25 in their Premier League squad because of a shortfall in home-grown players.
Otherwise, it is obvious which direction Mourinho is going. Willian, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marco van Ginkel, André Schürrle, Tomas Kalas, Mohamed Salah, Thibaut Courtois and Kurt Zouma, the signing from St Etienne, are a new core of hardworking Mourinho-istas who will execute their coach’s instructions to the letter. Romelu Lukaku was in the crowd at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night but it is by no means clear whether he will return next season.
As for the more senior players, Gary Cahill has had another fine season and the likes of Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Cesar Azpilicueta are all well-established with extensive Premier League experience. The signing of a striker, most likely Diego Costa from Atletico, will give this squad Mourinho’s imprint.
“It is football,” Luiz said after defeat to Atletico. “We need to be men [about it], it is not always possible to win. The season we won it [the Champions League in 2012] was a shit season until the end and then we won two titles. We keep fighting in the league. We cannot win automatically, it will be difficult.”
It will be intriguing to see this summer what the future holds for Luiz, after another unconvincing performance against Atletico. Mourinho is gradually getting rid of all those he feels are not compatible with his master plan.