Gary Neville says Jose Mourinho will keep Chelsea 'on the up'
Gary Neville gives a player-eye view on the impact of Jose Mourinho during his previous Chelsea spell.
Last Updated: 23/07/13 4:26pm
The new Premier League season can't be far away!
That means Sky Sports expert Gary Neville will soon be back on your screens and even though he's been enjoying some much-deserved time off, he's still been keeping a close eye on all of the hot topics of the summer.
Opinionated as ever, he has been giving his views on how things are shaping up ahead of the new season, including a look at the return of Jose Mourinho.
Neville first encountered The Special One when his Porto side famously knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League in 2004 and here he reflects on the impressive Chelsea side he built during his first spell...
When Jose Mourinho first came in during 2004/05 we played against him on the first day having had the experience the season before where he'd charged down the touchline and gone on to win the European Cup. He'd already made a name for himself.
In that first season, the Chelsea team he had was absolutely brilliant, make no mistake about that: Drogba, Robben, Duff, Makelele, Lampard, Carvalho, Terry and Cech being a huge part of that.
I always think when you can name a team then you know you've got a great team and I look back at that team and think that was a great side in that first year.
It had power, strength, goals from midfield and it was so difficult to play against. You had Makelele and Lampard plus the two wide lads, the strength and power of Drogba and a great back four. It really was a great side.
It made a big impact on the Premier League and from our point of view at United, it was our most lean period in terms of not winning the league since 1992/93. He was a big part of the blame in that.
He built a fantastic side. He'd obviously inherited a few of those players, but the players he brought in - the likes of Carvalho, Drogba and Robben - were brilliant signings.
Going back there now, I think he's got a greater challenge but I think Chelsea are on the up. Everybody could see that at the end of last season; they won the Champions League the year before, they won the Europa League last season and they finished strongly in the league. They are going to be a huge threat next season.
Where we lost out to Mourinho teams in the first couple of years was we left ourselves too much to do. We were never slow starters but we certainly weren't at our peak form for September through to December.
When we really started to get into our stride in January, February and March the problem in the Mourinho years was we left ourselves too far behind to get close enough to mount a challenge.
The critical part will be to make sure that at the turn of the year you're in contention and to make sure you don't fall too far behind. You wouldn't want to fall behind a Mourinho team because they will potentially have the nerve in the club to withstand the pressure.
I would say the same about United. You wouldn't want to give the current Manchester United group of players a lead.
So I think the start of the season, particularly the clubs with difficult starts, is critical. They can't fall too far behind the pack and think they'll make it up later in the season.