London – Jose Mourinho's return for a second spell as manager has brought a new feeling of unity at Chelsea, according to club stalwarts Frank Lampard and John Terry.
Stamford Bridge was a fractured place last season after crowd favourite Roberto Di Matteo was replaced by interim manager Rafael Benitez, who was never accepted by the fans because of disparaging comments he made during a previous spell with Liverpool.
“There is a lovely buzz around the place,” said midfielder Lampard after scoring with a thumping 35-metre free kick in Chelsea's 2-0 home victory over promoted Hull City in their opening Premier League game of the season on Sunday.
“I was very excited in the morning to get going again and the whole stadium was buzzing with the manager returning. All it needs now is for us to go and perform consistently and keep getting results,” he told the club website (www.chelseafc.com).
Skipper Terry, 32, echoed the thoughts of vice-captain Lampard, 35.
“Jose coming back in as manager has given us all a huge lift,” the former England defender said in his programme notes ahead of the Hull game. “He created a team that brought great success here...and it's great to have him back.
“We want to kick on again this season and we have got a great squad that is capable of competing for honours on all fronts.”
Former Real Madrid and Inter Milan manager Mourinho, returning to the team he led to back-to-back league titles in 2005 and 2006, was given a rapturous welcome by the supporters and the Portuguese again underlined how special he felt to be back at Chelsea.
“It is great to write again to my Blues brothers and I start with a question. How would you feel if Mr (Roman) Abramovich asked you to manage and coach our first team?” he said in his programme notes.
“Proud? Excited? Motivated? Ready? That is exactly what I felt. That is why I introduced myself as 'The Happy One', that is exactly what I feel every day when I drive to training at Cobham or to Stamford Bridge.
“I am at home again. I am where I want to be again. I am once again in a club that is much more than my club - it's also a passion, a passion I share with every one of you.”
Russian owner Abramovich added to the new feeling of unity at Chelsea on Sunday by going into the dressing room to wish the players well and by making a rare public comment in the programme to mark his 10th anniversary at the helm.
“We have had a great decade together and the club could not have achieved it all without you,” he wrote. “Thanks for your support. Here's to many more years of success.”
Europa League holders Chelsea are back in action at home to Aston Villa on Wednesday, the Premier League fixture having been brought forward due to the London club's participation in next week's European Super Cup against Champions League winners Bayern Munich in Prague.– Reuters