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The clock is ticking for Mourinho's Originals

But will it strike midnight for any of them?

Shaun Botterill

It's a favorite past time for fans and pundits alike to compare the first Mourinho era with the second, current one.  Never mind all the differences in level of competition, relative squad strengths, and changes in key players: Mourinho I vs. Mourinho II, in the octagon, to the death; GO!

Honorary judges for this top card fight are the Originals, the five senior* players who are left from that first era:  John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, and Petr Cech.  Before you ask, Mikel is/was too young and Hilario's too non-player-y - also, neither of them have a contract situation to be concerned about and thus do not fit my attempt at a clever introduction.

* Football-AARP membership cards are sent out at age 30.

So, Terry, Lampard, and Cole - their Chelsea status ranging from iconic to legendary - have contracts expiring in six months.  Essien & Cech are signed for one year and two years additional, respectively, but both could easily and conceivably get moved on this summer as well.  But let's focus on the three Englishmen.

"It's a situation that doesn't worry me, doesn't worry the club and, I think, doesn't worry the players,"

"Their desire to play for this club, nobody has doubts about it. We want them to feel free to express and to enjoy these last years of their careers"

-Jose Mourinho; source: ESPN

It's going to be hard to imagine a Chelsea club without them (especially Terry & Lampard), but that day is coming and coming quickly.  Even though they've both been integral parts of  so far this season:

"Everything is very calm and at the end of the season, probably before that, the club will sit with them, the offer will be on the table."

"Probably last season was more complicated. John was not playing, Lampard was almost signing a contract with LA Galaxy and he was not also feeling important in the team."

"In this moment the situation is very, very clear. They trust the club, we trust the players. And, for sure, without conflict, the best decision for us and for them will be taken."

-Jose Mourinho; source: ESPN

Ok, so maybe not so quickly.  While Mourinho leaves the answer just about vague enough to allow for either outcome, the overall message is clear: he expects Chelsea to offer at least the standard one-year deals that we seem to favor nowadays for players in their 30s.

How does this make you feel?  Happy with the club's show of loyalty?  Unhappy with the players' show on the pitch and the financial hit of their sizable contracts?  Somewhere in between?  Let us know in the comments (be nice!).

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