Despite the rest of the world peddling nonsense about Chelsea's supposed adequacy last season, it's been clear to the supporters that the team has, for lack of a more delicate phrase, been rubbish of late. Specifically, they've been rubbish in the Premier League, and then need to get a lot better very, very fast. Thankfully, Jose Mourinho isn't playing along with the idea that we should be content with the Blues' performances. The Sun claim that he's sent the following message to the players:
The priority is to improve because in the last two years we have struggled in the league. If Chelsea didn’t win the Champions League then the club wouldn’t have been in the competition this year. And this year we had to fight until the last match to qualify. So we have to improve the team.
But when I say improve, people are already thinking about how many millions Chelsea will spend. I mean through work. My work here has to improve players and improve the team. If I don’t do that I am not happy with myself. If after that we can improve the team by buying a couple of players it is fantastic but I have to improve the team with my work. Work hard, work professionally and make the team better. We must improve individually, collectively and improve the structure of the club around the team — and try to win the next match.
Because I know that victory makes miracles — when you win you are never tired. Happiness is much stronger than tiredness.
That looks like some new material interspersed with his Chelsea TV interview, and so I read it as a statement of intent more than a real message that he's been sending out individually. No matter, however. What's important is that Mourinho recognises that we have a problem and is going to take steps to try to fix it.
Will he succeed? I think so, but it's no guarantee even with a manager of Mourinho's quality. But for as long as we kept denying that there was an issue, things were never going to get better. Step one is acceptance. Now comes the hard part of getting things right. The only times in the past two years that Chelsea have really played together as a team were the backs-to-the-wall performances in the Champions League run, which is why they've been looking worse than the sum of their parts during games against inferior opponents.
Are there going to be difficult moments? Of course. But what matters is that Mourinho won't be satisfied with poor performance after poor performance, even if we can somehow scrape out wins. We're going to get back on course, or die trying.