English top five clubs find themselves in a unique position compared to their German, Italian, Spanish and French counterparts. Competing in their domestic league, domestic cup and Champions League or Europa League means the treble is the maximum the average top five team can aspire to. No small feet mind you. In England the existence of two fully competitive domestic cups puts the possibility of a quadruple on the cards. No English club has ever won the quadruple, is it realistically possible?
This season Chelsea have approached every game as one would expect of quadruple challengers. Regardless of whether it’s the Premier League, Champions League or less glamorous domestic cups, Chelsea have consistently fielded their strongest eleven. Undoubtedly the biggest challenges will come in the form of the Premier League and Champions League but small teams have never been undermined. No unnecessary chances are taken. Recently, in the Capital One encounter with Derby County, Mourinho fielded a starting XI featuring: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Zouma, Filipe Luis, Matic, Mikel, Hazard, Fabregas, Schürrle & Drogba. All except Zouma are established and respected players. It’s reasonable to assume the trend will continue when the FA Cup commences in 2015. The lack of rotation may prove to be a serious obstacle over the rest of the season. How will the players be able to adapt physically?
Playing in 4 competitions will put enormous strain on the minds and bodies of the players. Studies indicate that it’s physically impossible for players to fully recover with only two days rest between games. Competing in 4 competitions means often Chelsea will only have 2 days rest between games. This results in accumulation of fatigue and a greater chance of injury. The Premier League title challengers all grapple with the physiological burden of managing the competitions efficiently. However, the playing field is heavily skewed against English teams competing in European competitions.
Firstly, while English clubs prepare for a highly congested festive period, their counterparts will be recuperating on their winter break. Secondly, when the other nations recommence they’ll be competing in one less competition. While English quadruple chasers will be playing twice a week every week until the Capital One Cup final on 1st March, their counterparts will have weeks on end where they play only once. Essentially, English teams play more games over a longer period with no break. They have to compete and beat the best teams in the world both technically and tactically whist coping with a huge physical handicap. A huge hurdle to overcome.
The allure of quadruple and creating unprecedented history is easy to fall victim. Especially as Chelsea seeks to establish itself as a ‘Super Club’ with it’s own distinct history. An achievement such as the quadruple lies in the realm between reality and dreams. It creates unprecedented history and honour unlikely to be repeated and to be flaunted for decades, just ask Arsenal and ‘The Invincibles’.
Jose Mourinho has proven himself repeatedly to be the Special One, his man management this season has seen him use a selection as predictable as it is effective in winning 3 points. In order to win the quadruple he’ll have to beat off competition from the current Premier League champions who are currently 3 points behind Chelsea in the league and still in with a shot in all competitions. These are the types of challenges dynasties are built on and the type of challenges Mourinho thrives off of. These are the types of dreams and journeys which make this sport exciting. Whether a quadruple is possible or not remains to be seen but if anyone has a chance of accomplishing it, it’s Mourinho and his current batch of Chelsea All Stars.