Jose Mourinho believes that Chelsea look to have replaced Stamford Bridge legends Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and Ashley Cole – with a new generation of players having emerged at the heart of the senior squad.
Captain John Terry remains the only regular starter from Mourinho’s first spell in London. Petr Cech, John Obi Mikel and Didier Drogba have found playing time hard to come by thanks to the excellent form of Thibaut Courtois, while Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas having pushed Mikel to the bench, and Diego Costa has been the new goalscoring hero up front.
Meanwhile, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole moved on from the club in the summer – and Mourinho claims that the Blues have this season shown that a new team of champions has broken through – proving that life goes on without the experienced stars.
“For those older guys it’s nice to belong to two different generations,” Mourinho was quoted by the Guardian as saying.
“If we are champions this season then Petr, Didier, John and Mikel will have belonged to two generations of title winners. The same as me. It’s nice to belong to the history of a club in different moments, so it’s good for these older guys,” the Portuguese added.
“They’re all very experienced, and these guys are special players but we have others coming through. Ivanovic is experienced. [César] Azpilicueta is gaining experience. Hazard is here now for three years. [Nemanja] Matic is getting experience. This is a natural process, and the years count for everyone.
“Chelsea lost, at the end of last year, what I consider, for sure, to be one of the five most important players in the history of Chelsea FC: Frank Lampard.
“We lost that player but life goes on. You have to think about the future and to build, and you have to go with that.
“In Frank Lampard, Chelsea lost a match-winner with a number of goals he scored, a big character, a player without injuries who played every game, a player who beat every record in the Premier League – playing time, number of goals, goals from midfield – an absolutely amazing player. We lost him but life goes on.”
Chelsea edged closer to the Premier League title on Sunday following a goalless draw with Arsenal, and victory over Crystal Palace and Leicester City this week would see the Blues secure the trophy before their clash with Liverpool on May 10th.
The Reds would then have the gut-wrenching task of giving Mourinho’s men the guard of honour when they meet at Stamford Bridge.