The Premiership trophy will not be presented to Chelsea until this afternoon, but yesterday Jose Mourinho laid out his blueprint for next season with the stark warning to his triumphant players that they would face a "fight" to hold on to their places in his team.
The Chelsea manager said that he did not expect to sign more than three players a left-back, a midfielder and an attacker and hinted that one of those he plans to target could be Milan's striker Andrei Shevchenko. Mourinho did not rule out the possibility of recalling the on-loan Hernan Crespo but warned Milan that if they wanted to keep the £16.8m striker they would have to pay dearly or use Shevchenko as part of an exchange.
While Mourinho's last remark was delivered tongue-in-cheek, his announcement that Chelsea's formidable wealth will once again be directed at the European transfer market is likely to mean a third summer of heavy spending. Roman Abramovich's total transfer outlay already stands at £213.3m, but a move for Internazionale's Brazilian striker Adriano, or Shevchenko, would threaten to break all previous records.
At left-back, Udinese's Czech international Marek Jankulovski looks like a serious contender with the injury to Ajax's Maxwell making him a less attractive proposition. The chief executive Peter Kenyon has refused to discount another move for Arsenal's Ashley Cole, despite the tapping up scandal, and in midfield Javier Mascherano of River Plate has been assessed.
Under his new contract, Mourinho will take full control of the transfer process although Shevchenko would be a welcome signing for Abramovich, who knows the Ukrainian striker personally. Mourinho also said he expects to lose around three players, and warned those who have played a key role this season that none were certain of a place next season.
"I am in love with my players for what they did this season but if they don't do it any more I can't continue to be in love with them," Mourinho said. "I cannot keep Petr Cech in goal next season just because he was outstanding last season. I can't say to John Terry that just because of who you are and that you are my captain that I can promise to play you every game. You have to perform, this is about internal competition.
"You always have to change even when the team is very good, the group is very strong and the squad has a good balance. Even when you win it is important to change. It is important to create new motivation for the players and to create a change. For example, a player who performed well last season could think, 'I'll keep my place because I was fantastic'. If you bring in a new player he doesn't think that place is waiting for him."
Mourinho said that he had given his players two days off after Tuesday's defeat to Liverpool in the Champions' League semi-final but had spent that time himself at Stamford Bridge, planning for next season with Kenyon and the director Eugene Tenenbaum. Pre-season will start on 6 July, but the new sponsors Samsung have invited the club to play an exhibition game in Korea in the week before the FA Cup final.
Mourinho defended the contribution of Didier Drogba, the £24m striker who performed poorly in both legs of the Liverpool semi-final. He said the two separate injuries suffered by Drogba had made adapting to his new club "very, very difficult".
Mourinho also dismissed the suggestion that success would mean more without further spending.
"I don't know how much we will spend, but everyone else will spend," he said. "I don't think Wayne Rooney was free but all people talk about is Drogba. Good players are expensive. If you are champions you want to improve your squad and you want to go for your targets. Which kind of players will make you better? Young boys who need time or good players who cost money?"
In a rare insight, Mourinho said he had used shock tactics to make his point. "If I go into the dressing-room at half-time and kick a table and 20 bottles make a fantastic noise I don't lose emotional control," he said. "I need to make an impact and play with the emotions of other people."
Chelsea's trophy will be handed to Terry after today's match against Charlton. The club's captain said yesterday: "To be the captain of the champions and lift the trophy after the Charlton game will be a special experience.
"All the bad moments over the season, like losing that game at Manchester City or a couple of the other big games, especially Liverpool, will go out of the window when I'm standing there with the Premiership trophy in my hands and lifting it up. It's been a dream ever since I was a kid and now it's going to come true.
"Whenever I've met up with England and seen Ashley Cole, whose done it a couple of times, and the other boys who have done it, I've been jealous of them. I wanted something that they have had and now I've got it myself. That's the taste I've been waiting for. Hopefully, there's more to come."Reuse content