GLEN JOHNSON: Former Chelsea full-back and Betdaq Brand Ambassador Glen Johnson talks about the title-winning team of 2005, under Jose Mourinho, which he says is the best he’s ever played in.
It’s amazing to think it’s 15 years ago today since the Chelsea side I played in won the Premier League for the first time in 50 years. The Premier League is the one trophy we all want to win when we’re growing up, so it’s fantastic to be able to say I’m one of the lucky players who have.
It’s your bread and butter in terms of why you get up in the morning, why you put the hours in on the training ground and why you play football. What separates the Premier League from other trophies is you can’t blag winning it. You can be lucky in a League Cup or an FA Cup with the big teams being knocked out meaning you have a perfect draw. However, any team that wins the league deserves it because it’s impossible to blag results in a 38-game season. The table doesn’t lie as they say and it certainly didn’t when we won it in 2005.
I was only 21 when we won the league and in all honesty the whole thing was a bit of a blur. I was doing what I’d worked so hard to do and I was just enjoying the success we had. I played in the Premier League for 17 years and was fortunate to win a few trophies in my career, but that Premier League winner’s medal was the one I wouldn’t swap for anything.
Chelsea side best I played in
Even though it was at the early stages of my career, I think that Chelsea team was the best I played in. There were superstars all over the pitch and Jose Mourinho was brilliant at linking it all together. We obviously comfortably won the league, but we also got the defensive record too so it wasn’t like we were only good going forward. We had all bases covered and that’s why we finished so far ahead of everyone else.
We were so confident and although we didn’t necessarily blow teams away, we always thought we were going to win. In any sport, confidence is huge and if you give the best players confidence then who’s going to stop them? That’s credit to Mourinho in the way he made us feel and the fact that he got us enjoying training. Everyone was just riding the crest of a wave and we all believed in what he said to us.
Mourinho was an absolutely brilliant coach and what I really enjoyed was how refreshing everything he did was. The methods he used were different to anything we’d experienced before, but it really didn’t take long to adjust to them. When I first met him I didn’t really know much about him or who he was and it was very unique to meet a manager who had the charisma that Jose had. None of us really knew how to take it, but we learnt quickly how he was and the way he wanted to do things.
Jose was clever in the fact that he would be nice to everyone, but there was a dark side that brought a fear factor to the squad. Even the more high-profile players were wary of him and fearful of getting on the wrong side of him. You didn’t want to disappoint him and that’s what spurred us on.
The training was very unique in that it was incredibly well-organised and detailed. He didn’t just know what we were doing on the day, he knew what we were going to be doing during every second of it. We’d walk out in the morning and there would be four pitches set up for us. That had never been done before so we were a long way ahead of our rivals.
Mourinho’s Chelsea vs Rodgers’ Liverpool
The big thing between the two best sides I played in was quality of squad. At Chelsea we had two superstars in every position and if there was an injury we’d be covered, whereas at Liverpool it was harder. When everyone was fit we had a fantastic side, but we didn’t have same the depth in the squad.
When we were all fit that Liverpool team was special and we’d be out of sight within 20 minutes. It was a great environment to be involved in and we were just loving it. Chelsea was different because we’d ground out results and wouldn’t be as pleasing on the eye.
From my perspective there were a lot of things that were similar about the two sides as well. Brendan Rodgers was Mourinho’s understudy at Chelsea so the training under him was very comparable. Both were fantastic sides to be a part of and it’s very hard to differentiate the two. As a footballer if you’re winning, like both those sides did, you’re enjoying it and that’s why both were so brilliant to be a part of.