Mourinho prepares to add guile and style to a portfolio worn at the edges

What now, Jose?: The Special One still needs a few more special recruits
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It was as if a defibrillator had been applied to Chelsea's failing hearts as the ball reached Eidur Gudjohnsen. Who else would the coaching staff, remaining substitutes, manager Jose Mourinho, and followers have wanted to be on the end of such an opportunity?

It was as if a defibrillator had been applied to Chelsea's failing hearts as the ball reached Eidur Gudjohnsen. Who else would the coaching staff, remaining substitutes, manager Jose Mourinho, and followers have wanted to be on the end of such an opportunity?

Had his attempt in the final seconds of Tuesday's Champions' League semi-final been accurate there could only have been one outcome, even if the ball had ricocheted off the lurking Didier Drogba or the herculean Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher. But the gods, for once, failed to respond to Mourinho's beseechings and the Icelander's aim was awry. Anfield could rejoice, at last.

In vivid contrast, Gudjohnsen's failure provoked a mass clutching of Chelsea heads, like some religious cult responding to the death of their spiritual leader, while out on the flank the substitute Arjen Robben hurled himself on the turf in the manner of a petulant child forbidden a treat.

Sure, it would have been tough on Carragher and Co if Chelsea had prevailed. But could anyone suggest that John Terry (whose reaction that "this has definitely put a downer on things" must be the understatement of the season), his fellow central defender, the magnificently resilient Ricardo Carvalho, Frank Lampard, Claude Mak-elele, and yes, Gudjohnsen himself, merited such a conclusion to their European adventure?

Mourinho, for one, could not. As hard as he made a genuine stab at proving himself Mr Magnanimous, blessing Liverpool's chances in the final with a pontiff-like gravitas, he could not restrain himself. "For sure, no doubt, the best team lost," the designer-stubbled Special One reflected, almost in a whisper. "Football is sometimes cruel, and you have to accept the reality."

The reality, for those not immersed in Merseyside football folklore or overcome by west London bias, was that the most gifted squad had indeed lost. The problem for the Chelsea manager was that too many of that number were, like Damien Duff and Paolo Ferreira, wounded and unavailable; or, like Robben, still recuperating; and the rest were, overlooking that last-gasp chance and an earlier Lampard free-kick, devoid of the guile required to disentangle a Liverpool midfield and rearguard who had contrived to construct as many knots as a boy scouts' convention.

Chelsea will present several pleas in mitigation. As well as that dubious deciding goal, there were the injuries to some personnel and others not fully fit - both Terry and Lampard require surgery for toe conditions which will make them absentees from Sven Goran Eriksson's England tour to America - which meant that several men were deployed in alien positions.

They will also declare that the domestic championship is paramount, and that has not just been won, but won in a manner which has left the Premiership waters as bloodied as the aftermath of a shark attack on a school of defenceless prey. One suspects that achieving that feat has sapped their powers of recovery over a period of weeks, even if only marginally.

Mourinho, though, will hardly have been oblivious to Chelsea's shortcomings. When a contest culminates with the sadly ineffective Drogba, the unremarkable Mateja Kezman, along with Gudjohnsen, Robben and the defender Robert Huth, attempting to breach the home goal with tactics derived from Bomber Command rather than a sophis-ticated, stealthy ground force, it reveals the dearth of the side's talent in depth.

There will be scant sympathy for Roman Abramovich's hireling. Some submit that Mourinho should have bolstered this European campaign with reinforcements during the winter window. It would have been purely panic-buying. Anyway, the manager could not have foreseen that he would be without Duff and Robben simultaneously and thus so crucially devoid of width and pace.

Now, as he intimated on Tuesday, he can start preparing the club's investment portfolio for next season (once, that is, he has completed his own, following Chelsea's increase of the duration of his £5m-plus salary to five years), fashioning a team considerably more in his own image. Certainly he has invested in personnel, yet only three of Tuesday's starting line-up were his purchases - Carvalho, Drogba and Tiago. We sometimes forget that Mourinho assumed control less than a year ago, and the majority of these players were bequeathed to him by Claudio Ranieri. In the circumstances, Mourinho has achieved the equivalent of bringing up a fine son after becoming stepfather to another man's child.

Chelsea's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, has spoken of a summer intake of three players. It isanticipated by the Chelsea faithful that Mourinho will be slightly more consistent with those acquisitions than he has been thus far. While he didpurchase Carvalho, Ferreira, Tiago and Robben, much more dubious have been the £24m paid for Drogba, and the £3.5m spent on Kezman.

A striker - maybe two, one would suggest - would be prudent, given Kezman's possible departure and the continuing doubts over Drogba, who over two legs against Liverpool simply has not commended himself as a player with whom Chelsea can plan an élite future.

The 23-year-old Brazilian Adriano, currently with Internazionale, where he has scored 15 goals in 27 games this season, would be Mourinho's preferred choice. An inflated fee, with the on-loan Juan Veron the makeweight, would scarcely inhibit Chelsea; neither would the agreement necessary to bring Milan's 27-year-old left-back Kakha Kaladze to Stamford Bridge. But a creative midfielder will surely be the third priority.

Lampard, the new Football Writers' Player of the Year to add to Terry's Players' accolade, is unlikely to complete another season virtually without pause. "Money can't buy me love", a four-man combo once sang in the locality of Chelsea's Champions' League defeat. It can buy many a footballer's soul, though. Whether Steven Gerrard places career before affinity with his birthplace rests on many factors. "I have got a lot of thinking to do, and I will make a decision very soon after the final," he said. Which we will take as a definite possibility.

With or without Gerrard, the composition of New Chelsea is liable to be different next season after a year's scrutiny of his squad and the Premiership by Mourinho. Astute character that he is, he will regard Tuesday's events not with a sense of devastation but as an important, if harsh, part of his education.

All change: who's in, who's out

Departures at the Bridge?

Glen Johnson: The right-back has been found out too many times this season but is still learning. Temperament also questionable.

Géremi: Capable, strong on the ball and disciplined. But unlikely to be content with watching from the stands for another season.

Wayne Bridge: Injury-prone. Rumours linking Mourinho with left-backs such as Ashley Cole suggest the manager is not happy.

Mateja Kezman: After being hailed as "better than Rooney", a rare Mourinho failure. In his first year in England the Serb has scored four League goals from six starts. Possibly bound for old club Eindhoven.

Didier Drogba: Is he worth £24m? Not in most people's opinion, though Mourinho thinks so. Works hard and uses his power to ruffle defenders, but his finishing and touch are sometimes woeful.

Arrivals at the Bridge?

Kakha Kaladze (Milan): Positionally astute but temperamental. Left-back, 27, is seen as heir to Paolo Maldini. A swap deal for striker Hernan Crespo is mooted, though Crespo may still stay at Chelsea.

Javier Mascherano (River Plate): Talented, tenacious midfielder lauded by Diego Maradona. Team man and a real Mourinho player.

Joaquin (Real Betis): Right-footed version of Arsenal's Reyes. The 24-year-old dribbling machine would complete Mourinho's midfield. However, he is also coveted by Real Madrid.

Adriano (Internazionale): Powerful 23-year-old striker (right) is regarded as natural successor to Ronaldo in the Brazil side. On-loan Juan Sebastian Veron could be used in a deal which might have to be a world record. Over to you, Roman.

Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona): Technically gifted, lightning quick and a great finisher. No wonder Barça will do all in their power to keep the 27-year-old La Liga top scorer.

Compiled by Matt Denver

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