Terry, Torres to ponder future
Fernando Torres and John Terry (AFP)
London - Jose Mourinho's return to Chelsea throws up a host of thought-provoking sub plots, none more intriguing than the question of whether the new coach feels John Terry and Fernando Torres have a future at the club.
Captain Terry was relegated to fourth-choice centre half under interim boss Rafa Benitez last season and, although Torres had his best season in Chelsea blue, the Spain striker has only bagged one goal in the Premier League in 2013.
Terry's season was blighted by a knee injury he sustained in November and he was also forced to miss the 2-1 Europa League Cup final win over Benfica in Amsterdam last month because of an ankle problem.
The 32-year-old former England skipper's creaking joints seem to be catching up with him although vice-captain Frank Lampard has no doubts about the defender's value to the 2012 European champions.
"JT has said he'd love to stay at Chelsea," Lampard told The Sun newspaper last month.
"He feels the same as me, why play anywhere else when you love the club you're at? JT is the captain and does a brilliant job."
Mourinho, however, may feel the time is right to move Terry on and give extra defensive responsibility to the likes of David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic.
It also remains to be seen if Torres can win over the new coach who makes an emotional return to the club he left in 2007.
The Spaniard finally emerged from the shadows of Mourinho's old favourite Didier Drogba last season, grabbing 22 goals in all competitions for the club he joined for a British record fee of £50 million from Liverpool in January 2011.
Benitez seemed to coax the best out of the misfiring Torres during his seven months in charge, the highlight coming against Benfica when the Chelsea number nine ran half the length of the field to put his side 1-0 up.
Question marks remain over Torres's ability to score consistently in the Premier League although the player himself is certain where he believes his future lies.
"It was a very good end of the season for me," he said. "I am feeling much better, I am playing more than before so I am happy.
"Sometimes the confidence just changes when you are feeling you are part of the team, when you are playing more often and playing the important games and the goals come. It makes everything easier and I am really looking forward to next season."
Torres was the first-choice striker last season, playing just in front of the 'Three Amigos' Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar.
The slightly-built playmaking trio are the hub of the Chelsea team, opening up tight opposition defences with their intricate passing moves, vision and creativity.
Under Benitez and his Champions League-winning predecessor Roberto Di Matteo, the Londoners employed a 4-2-3-1 system that would seem at odds with the 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 approach that Mourinho employed to such good effect in his first spell at the club.
The Portuguese, who led Chelsea to successive Premier League title triumphs in 2005 and 2006, used to like going into battle with tough, uncompromising midfielders such as Lampard, Claude Makelele, Michael Ballack and Michael Essien.
The Stamford Bridge faithful are now wondering how Mourinho plans to merge the two differing styles and are also intrigued to discover how the 'Special One' will work with billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
The two men fell out spectacularly in 2007 although media reports suggested they patched up their differences soon after Mourinho's Chelsea departure.
In recent years Abramovich has relied on sporting director Michael Emenalo for most of the decisions on transfer incomings and outgoings.
Mourinho, in a similar manner to his close friend Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, seemed to want to be master of all he surveyed in his first spell at Chelsea.
But having gone through turbulent spells behind the scenes at Inter Milan and, more recently, at Real Madrid - he may now prefer to focus his attention on coaching and leave the buying and selling to Abramovich and Emenalo.
According to former Inter player Wesley Sneijder, Mourinho will be realising a dream by going back to Chelsea.
"Jose only loves his wife and kids more than Chelsea, he has a special place in his heart for the club," the Galatasaray midfielder told the Turkish website SporX.
"Mourinho had the excited look of a kid telling his parents what he wanted for Christmas when he talked about the Premier League and Chelsea."