The summer has been notable not only for those arriving on our shores for the very first time, but those making much awaited returns. Jose Mourinho’s return to the helm at Chelsea has created something of a media furore as journalists grapple for their slice of the ‘Special One’. But does the Premier League need Mourinho back more than Chelsea do?
Abramovich era Chelsea has been littered with managerial failure and disappointment, that is perhaps why fans have yearned for the return of a man who stood out where others had faltered. Jose Mourinho’s double title success will go down in the club’s history as a golden spell and not something that will be forgotten soon. Leaving on a sour note as the relationship between owner and managed crumbled, the adoration between Jose and the Stamford Bridge faithful has always been unerring. Naturally the return of their hero would spark rapturous celebration and expectation of a second phase of prominence.
But do Chelsea as a club need Mourinho?
It would appear that Mourinho has joined the club at a point where they appear ready to challenge consistently for top honours. Double European success eclipsed anything the Portuguese manager achieved in his tenure at Chelsea, and the club appear to have flourished following the fallout of the previous Mourinho era. In footballing terms Chelsea haven’t looked this promising since he was last in charge. Naturally retaining Benitez was never going to be popular regardless of his successes, and from the crop of available managers Mourinho was the obvious target.
My point is that Chelsea as a club were not in a position where they desperately needed Mourinho for their development, but he offered an incredibly enticing option when the time came for change this summer. My belief is that Chelsea would have challenged this season regardless of which of the top managers they had at the helm.
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So who needs Mourinho?
The Premier League whether you like it or not is a bundled commodity ready to be sold and consumed throughout the world, that is just the reality of the situation. Marketability is everything; the league needs to ensure it still has the captivating drama and competitive edge that gives it a unique selling point.
The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and sacking of Roberto Mancini has left the so-called ‘big four’ without the degree of exuberance off the pitch that added to the drama. Instead in their wake has been installed another dour Scotsman with altogether less charisma as well as Chilean manager Pellegrini who looks to favour a less confrontational style of management. There is nothing wrong with these appointments for pure footballing reasons, but in the eyes of the Premier League marketers there is a distinct lack of showbiz edge.
When bumper deals such as the new £5.5billion pot for this years television rights arrive, it is unsurprising that broadcasters seek to make the most of the assets on show. I don’t think a day has gone by without channels like Sky Sports dedicating a segment to the return of their television messiah Jose Mourinho. You could have been forgiven for thinking that Super Sunday last weekend was just a documentary covering the life of the Portuguese sensation.
Mourinho is incredibly marketable and therefor crucial to the league as a whole. There is a reason his face is on billboards across the country, and whether you like him or not he generates the kind of interest that has made our league still the most financially rewarding to play in. If the league had 20 sour looking managers who refused to do anything but toe the club line it is unlikely that there would be anything to cover bar the 90 minutes on the weekend. Instead the confrontational habits of a Mourinho type figure make him a global icon worth analysing on a day-to-day basis.
People aren’t naïve enough to think football these days is just about two teams kicking a ball about, it has become so much more. You only had to glimpse recent far east tours by a collection of the top clubs to realise what a global phenomenon our countries offering has become. As other European leagues begin to claw back at our dominance, it is important that the edge we have is maintained.
When it comes down to it, the return of Mourinho was probably much more meaningful to someone like Richard Scudamore at the Premier League than to those at Chelsea. Chelsea as a club would have been in the shake-up regardless of his return, but the Premier League would not have been the same marketable option had the charismatic manger chosen to stay in Spain.
Does Mourinho’s return mean more to the English football than Chelsea?
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