Chelsea’s Mourinho must convert Lukaku into world-class striker
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho needs to convert Blues youngster Romelu Lukaku into a world-class striker, writes Harry Kemble
Jose Mourinho has endured more than most in becoming one of the top managers in world football.
One blot against his name that he has worked hard to overcome is how the Special One’s playing career never progressed above the Portuguese second division.
To his credit, managerial success, in turn, has paved the way for other managers without much playing experience to enter coaching; his fellow countryman Andre Villas-Boas to name just one.
On arriving at Stamford Bridge for the first time in 2004, Mourinho famously said of his playing career in Portugal: “I’m an intelligent person. I knew I was not going to go any higher. The second division was my level.”
After leaving the auspices of Porto, Mourinho the manager has won a wealth of silverware at each of the three clubs he has worked at.
Yet he has never been imposed with any kind of financial restriction. He has never had to simply make-do with the players he had when he arrived.
His second tenure with Chelsea is proving to be no different than his spells with Real Madrid, Inter Milan and, of course, with the Stamford Bridge outfit nine years ago when he spent in excess of £70m in his first summer in west London.
The Portuguese coach has already brought in six new players – including Brazilian playmaker Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala – this transfer window.
Mourinho is known to be in the market for a striker who can be banked on to score 20-plus goals-a-season.
Wayne Rooney and Samuel Eto’o have both been linked to the club despite the fact Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku are all currently fit and ready to prove their worth.
Torres notched 23 goals last season and overcame a turbulent season to score vital strikes as the campaign drew to a close, including the first in Chelsea’s Europa League final win over Benfica.
Lukaku, meanwhile, spent the season on loan at West Bromwich Albion and led the line superbly to notch 17 strikes in 40 matches, including a final-day hat-trick over Manchester United.
The Belgian “Beast” looked impressive in pre-season, too, after experiencing the rigours of playing for West Brom.
He is now ready to make the step up to become Chelsea’s number one striker, especially when you consider the improved service he will receive from the marauding midfield behind him.
Why can’t Mourinho convert the talented youngster into a world-beater?
It is the one question that lingers over him as a coach – his apparent inability to assist young players in making that next step up.
In Lukaku – a player Chelsea paid £18m for in 2011 – they have a forward with the world at his feet, he just needs to be given a chance to flourish.
With the array of attacking midfielders Mourinho has at his disposal, Chelsea will hardly be short of goals, too.
Heck, they coped well enough rotating Ba and Torres with Rafael Benítez at the helm. The pair scored 29 goals between them across the season and the Senegalese frontman only arrived in January.
Many anticipated Lukaku to be given his chance against United in Monday’s turgid 0-0 draw after both Torres and Ba had been handed starts against Hull City and Aston Villa respectively.
Instead, Mourinho went for the ultimate snub and picked Andre Schurrle in attack, supported by Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Oscar.
Of course, the Chelsea manager is one of the most obdurate men in the game – he would not have had the success he’s had if he wasn’t but he must consider the harmony of the dressing room if he was to bring in another striker.
The most likely arrival with under a week to go until the window closes is Eto’o – a player Mourinho coached at Inter.
If the 32-year-old signs it will hardly go down well with his new colleagues when they consider his likely lofty wage packet – and his age.
Mourinho must consider his options carefully.