Jose Mourinho's Romelu Lukaku Mistake Could Cost Chelsea the Title

Stan CollymoreFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18:  Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho talks to substitute Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho's first mistake on his return to Chelsea was a big one. He let a young, fresh, physically imposing, free-scoring striker off the books, and his team are paying the price for it.

I was truly stunned on deadline day when I heard Chelsea might let Romelu Lukaku go on loan. It was especially surprising given a player with very similar attributes, Didier Drogba, represented Mourinho's all-conquering, one-man frontline during his first stint at the club.

Lukaku scored more league goals than Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o last season. He's better at holding the ball up than Eto'o, plays off the shoulder better than Ba and has a great deal more confidence in front of goal than Torres.

I don't know where the blind spot is. Maybe Lukaku missing his penalty against Bayern influenced Mourinho's decision. Maybe he underwhelmed in preseason. Maybe Jose just didn't fancy him.

Instead, he put his faith in Eto'o, which looks to me a big risk. I've watched a fair bit of the Russian league, and it's nowhere near the standard of the Premier League. Eto'o is a 32-year-old making a leap in quality who'll need time to get adjusted and could well be susceptible to injury.

As for Torres, he's a player who's been mentally crushed over the last two seasons. He'll never get back to those Liverpool days. People will say he scored 23 goals last season, but he used to score 23 Premier League goals at Anfield.

I don't think Ba is Champions League quality. Which makes it all the more bizarre Mourinho didn't keep Lukaku.

Sometimes you have to take a risk, put your faith in a rookie. Lukaku is in his early 20s, playing for his place at the 2014 World Cup with Belgium and is widely acknowledged as one of Europe's unpolished diamonds. And he's overflowing with confidence—the lifeblood of a striker.

Is Mourinho getting lazy? You might suggest he was looking for a proven, off-the-rack striker and wasn't prepared to put in the time it takes to develop a young player than Lukaku.

There are early signs he's not the same manager he was first time around at Stamford Bridge. It was a poor move letting Lukaku go and a poor move allowing Victor Moses to leave. And then he starts talking about having an immature team, when the XI that lost to Basel had an average age of over 27.

I'm not sure of the terms of Lukaku's loan, but if he had any sense Mourinho would get him back as soon as possible from Everton.

It's still early in his second coming, but the Special One's decision to let Lukaku go may yet cost Chelsea the Premier League title.