After yesterday’s cracking interview with Sam from the Plains of Almeria site, today we welcome my dear friend Ramon Isaac, the editor of the Chelsea fan site Mowing Meadows. I spoke to him last year when he wasn’t best pleased with the whole Rafa Benitez situation, but, of course, since then Mourinho has returned. So how are things this season?
I know you were far from Benitez’s biggest fan. Looking back, did he do a better or worse job than you expected?
I suppose you have to say he exceeded expectations. I say that merely because I thought the worst as soon as he came in. Looking back on it, a top three finish and Europa League trophy doesn’t sound too bad, but the performances in the league were very average and it was touch and go almost up until the last game of the season before we were assured another season in the Champions League. This was a side that was four points off the lead when Benitez took over. That being said, the side improved as the season went on and in Europe the team looked sharp and fairly dominant, final aside. So, thank you Rafa but good riddance.
Mourinho’s return completely galvanised your supporters, which I found quite refreshing. The reaction right across Chelsea’s fanbase was unbelievably positive. What difference has he made to last season, which was a bit of a shambles at times?
There’s been a huge difference from last season in terms of the fans. It was almost unenjoyable at times last season, Benitez’s appointment displayed a complete disregard for the fans by the board. Mourinho’s return is the complete opposite, there is a constant excitement and the expectations are higher. Even though the performances so far haven’t always been exceptional, it has been far more enjoyable when you trust that your manager is capable of managing. I’m sure City fans can relate to the fact that there is a special place in the hearts of many for the man that brings silverware back to a club or achieves a first league title.
How long do you see him staying?
I don’t know whether I’m being a romantic or not, but I see Mourinho staying for a while (5 seasons). He’s spoken at length about wanting to settle down with a club and build a ‘dynasty’ and very few clubs offer what Chelsea can. Everyone associated with the club loves him and he has an incredibly talented squad at his disposable that will only get better as they get older.
Where would you spend in January? Any specific players?
Personally I’d like to see a central midfielder and striker signed in January. The never ending De Rossi rumours will no doubt be back but the reality is Roma are flying in Serie A and won’t want to sell a player so influential. The club are also restricted by trying to target players who aren’t involved in the Champions League, quite frankly I don’t see much point in spending a fortune if the player can’t feature in Europe and it is unlikely players will want to leave a club still in the Champions League. That being said and being more unlikely than the De Rossi signing, given he has only recently moved, his midfield partner, Kevin Strootman has been brilliant so far this season. As for striking options, I’ll stay with the league I know and love and say Giuseepe Rossi.
Who’s been your best player so far this season?
There’s only one answer to this question and that’s Oscar. There aren’t many footballers I’ve loved more than our young Brazilian, he’s something really special. I’m delighted Mourinho has trusted Oscar to play the central role as I thought he offers more than Juan Mata in that position and he hasn’t disappointed so far. He’s our top goalscorer and has been pivotal to pretty much any positive play the side has managed so far this season. His awareness on the pitch and vision is a joy to watch, the way he glides past players with relative ease and lack of effort reminds me of Kaka in his prime. Nailed on to be a future Ballon D’or winner.
Do you think the jealousy towards Chelsea and City for having money will subside any time soon?
I hope not. The jealousy is usually a sign of being one of the best teams. There are plenty of clubs with rich, foreign owners, the difference between Chelsea & City in comparison to the others is that we’ve had success to go with the spending. I hope we buy another ten league titles.
Is Pellegrini a good appointment in your eyes?
I really like Pellegrini, mainly because he’s a cool looking man. In another life he would have been a Chilean mafia boss. I think he done really well with Malaga, whilst La Liga might not have quality in depth, the teams at the top are very talented and to get Malaga into the Champions League was a good achievement even with their financial capabilities. I thought he was unfortunate at Real Madrid, the side’s brilliance only out done by the outrageous talent of Lionel Messi. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Mancini so I think City will be better under Pellegrini, unfortunately.
What have you made of City so far?
City have had a relatively similar start to Chelsea. A new manager, a great squad and high expectations. It hasn’t gone perfectly with a couple of hiccups away from home but by and large I think City have been fairly impressive. I don’t think there’s any side in the league that can match up to City’s attacking threat. United might have the strikers, Chelsea may have the creative talent but City have both in abundance and it is worrying. In midfield, Toure and Fernandinho have looked rock solid, the one area that City look suspect is defensively. Hart hasn’t been inspiring confidence in recent times, Kompany when not injured hasn’t been superb and whilst I think Nastasic is a fantastic player, it is a lot of pressure to put on a young centre back to expect him to lead the back line.
Who’ll win the league?
It will be a two horse race between City and Chelsea. I think we are the two clubs with the best squads and thankfully, Ferguson is not around to bridge the gap with a relatively average United side. It will be close but I think Chelsea might just pip it, although that might just be my heart willing it to happen.
I remember the last time I done a match prediction, I began with the line “Goals, Goals, Goals” It ended up being a drab 1-0, but I really can’t see how either team will stop the other from scoring. Aguero is on fire and I expect to grab one maybe two and you’ve definitely got an advantage in the centre of midfield but given your defensive woes, I think we will be able to “score one more than you”.
Interview by Rob Pollard