Ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League opener against FC Basle tomorrow night, manager Jose Mourinho has analogized his side to a group of unhatched eggs.
When asked about the type of players on his squad, Mourinho said: “Beautiful, young eggs. Eggs that need a mum, in this case… a dad… to take care of them, to keep them warm during the winter, to bring the blanket and work and improve them.”
Mourinho, affectionately known as “Daddy” to players like Michael Essein, believes that over time his squad’s talent will produce.
“One day the moment will arrive when the weather changes, the sun rises, you break the eggs and the eggs are ready to go for life at the top level.”
The analogy is eerily similar to the one Mourinho made in advance of a Champions League match against Rosenborg in 2007. “It’s all about omelets and eggs. No eggs, no omelette. And it depends on the quality of the eggs.” Chelsea went on to draw that match 1-1 and 24 hours later, Mourinho left the club.
Mourinho’s comments on Tuesday serve to temper expectations at Stamford Bridge after his side, along with Manchester United and Manchester City, entered the season odds on favorites to win the Premier League and compete for a Champions League title.
But for all the pre-season hype, Chelsea have yet to display 90 minutes of championship caliber form. The Blues were fantastic in the first half of their 2-0 victory over Hull City but in the 315 minutes of play since then have yet to duplicate that level of hyper-charged football.
The lack of form can in part be attributed to a rotating cast of characters throughout the attack. In midfield, only Eden Hazard and Ramires have managed to keep their starting spot through the first four matches of the Premier League. Despite not starting against Everton, Frank Lampard remains Ramires’ preferred partner in the midfield pivot while Oscar is typically fielded alongside Hazard.
The remaining two attacking midfield positions and the lone striker role, however, appear to be up for grabs.
Kevin De Bruyne looked solid in the season opener before struggling against Manchester United. Andre Schurrle has shown signs of quality but struggled last weekend, spurning four clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities. Juan Mata, who has been carrying a minor knock, has been used only twice with rumors persisting that he doesn’t fit into Mourinho’s scheme.
Up top, no go-to striker has emerged among the trio of Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o although the Cameroonian striker looks the favorite to own the role.
There’s little doubt that finding the right combination of players will take time. Yet fortunately for Mourinho, he’s inherited a squad with 12 members from the 2012 Champions League side. Experience matters.