Title- and trophy-winning teams tend to have a few things in common, one of which is the mentality and confidence aspect. That might not be news to most of us who have followed the highs and lows of Chelsea Football Club over the past couple decades, with José Mourinho especially hammering home the concept, but it is often overlooked when talking about “projects” and plans and the like. Creating a winning team is so much more than just putting a bunch of highly talented and high-priced players together.
Obviously, that part is very important as well, but we’ve seen first hand how confidence can snowball in either direction, depending on results, and lead to either eternal glory or eternal damnation. Chelsea’s hilarious oscillation from league title to midtable mediocrity to league title in a three-season span from 2014 to 2017 is the most extreme example of that.
Incidentally, the team that won the title between those two Chelsea titles, Leicester City, featured a young Ben Chilwell, who thus also saw first-hand what the effects of unbridled confidence can be.
“When we won the league with Leicester in 2016, when I was fortunate enough to be in the squad at 18 or 19 years old, what I found was that the boys were going into every game confident they were going to win.”
And really, that’s the hallmark of any title-winning team. Talent is a given quality for any contender. Mentality is taught, confidence is earned. Cultivating that habit throughout the season and throughout multiple seasons is how we turn good teams into great teams, good players into legends.
Chilwell’s seeing at Chelsea what he was seeing at Leicester four years ago. That alone won’t guarantee the same outcome, but we can’t have the same outcome (now or in the near future) without that belief.
“What I’m finding quite interesting is the confidence of the group. [...] At the moment with Chelsea that’s what the group feels like. When we go into matches we feel like we can’t really lose at the moment, which is a great thing to have as long as you work hard with it.”
Of course, we’re not even a third of the way through the season, so any lofty talk must be tempered and any wandering focus must be narrowed. The only thing that matters is the next game. And then the next game after that. It’s a classic cliché, perhaps the most classic of all classics — “one game at a time” — but it is so for a reason.
“We’re not looking that far ahead. [...] There doesn’t seem to be any drop off at any stage and hopefully that will continue for the rest of the season because we have a great squad. The positive thing is we don’t get carried away [and] the manager makes sure the standards don’t slip. We all see how hard he works and it rubs off on us.”
But make no mistake. There is only one ultimate ambition for Chilwell, just as far the rest of the group. Players come to Chelsea to win trophies, after all.
“I knew the expectations are to win titles and trophies. That’s the reason I wanted to come. I’m 23 years old and it was important to come to a club where hopefully I can win stuff.”
-Ben Chilwell; source: Guardian
“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”, as the famous line from Friday Night Lights goes.
Let’s make it happen, gentlemen.
BONUS CHILLY B CONTENT:
If that joke sounds familiar, it’s an old Billy classic, apparently one of Joe Cole’s favorites: