Real Madrid President Florentino Perez announced on Monday night that the club would be parting company with Jose Mourinho this summer, paving the way for a return to Chelsea for the Portuguese manager.
If you were going to make online bets on the biggest football leagues, the return of Jose to Chelsea would a certainty.
In Roman Abramovich’s mind, it’s an act to permanently mend the scorched earth policy that seems to be left by Mourinho once he moves on from each of his clubs. But perhaps the bigger picture is that success isn’t guaranteed in a second spell.
Mourinho will leave Real Madrid with plenty of discussion as to whether his time in charge can be deemed a success; the only time that level of uncertainty can be raised following the manager’s spell at any of his clubs. A look back over this season will tell that the issue of wanting out became a messy and controversial story. The benching of club legend Iker Casillas also came into play and Mourinho at one stage looked to be encircled by the majority of his own squad, many of whom were sharpening their blades for an internal and final war.
The return to Chelsea, however, is being portraying as something it’s not. We’re led to believe that another dawn on English football is upon us solely because of Mourinho. It will be box office, but it fails to accept that there will be plenty of conflict; Mourinho doesn’t do the discreet approach to management.
The biggest question to take from all this is whether this is still the Mourinho who guided Chelsea to back-to-back Premier League titles. Is this still the Mourinho who gifted Inter Milan the treble in his single season in Italy? Above all, is he still the ‘Special One?’
[cat_link cat=”chelsea” type=”list”]
That’s where the problems may lie. It will come from the expectation that so much is on the cards for Chelsea in the immediate future. But what is quite clear here is that this isn’t the same Chelsea that Mourinho left. Sure, some key components remain, but Rafa Benitez made sure that the emphasis had shifted from the past to the future. This is a young core who may not take too well to Mourinho’s aggressive approach to management. Mesut Ozil is a key example of this and the German’s productivity suffered in the earlier stages of this past season.
And then you look to the idea of exploring the past and whether things could really be the same. In football, it rarely is. There’s a certain negativity surrounding the signing of former players or managers in this country, and so often it fails to replicate the successes of the past.
Kenny Dalglish may not have completely tainted his image in the eyes of Liverpool fans, but it may be best to quickly forget his second spell in charge of the club. Adding to the theme, Kevin Keegan returned to Newcastle and then walked away without the blaze of glory that was needed and possibly expected.
What you have here with Chelsea is an owner who has run out of options on two fronts. For starters, how long is the list of managers who would put their career and reputation on the line to take over the reins at Stamford Bridge? On top of that, it looks to be a decision that will appease the supporters rather than going with what Abramovich personally wants.
We’re told stories that Mourinho’s relationship with the English media was bordering on perfect, something that couldn’t be further from the truth. The media in Spain are used as a device by certain clubs to get what they want, but they also call the manager out when they feel it necessary. Are we really supposed to believe that won’t happen here? What happens if Mourinho decides to clash with Juan Mata or opts to bring in Thibaut Courtois only to leave him rooted on the bench? Are the media supposed to just ignore it all because stories of yesterday suggest everyone was mates with Mourinho?
You have to applaud the manager for trying to change the predictability of Real Madrid and the expectation within the club. However, you have to accept that many of his methods were completely wrong and caused unnecessary fires. How often is it that supporters turn so quickly on the manager that brought them the league title and sealed it with a win at the home of their fiercest rivals? Does it need to be said that Mourinho toppled the best football side in the world and did it by achieving a record total of points for Real Madrid?
It’s not to say that there will be no success. Mourinho is one of those managers who has success and trophies following him around on an extremely short leash. It won’t be too long before Chelsea land another trophy should Mourinho arrive at the club this summer. But then what? How negative will the road to success be? It’s about image and reputation, something Chelsea should do their utmost to preserve. Moreover, how long will it be until Mourinho decides he himself has had enough and wishes to take on a fresh chapter in his career? We shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that this is now a manager who will settle down at one club for near a decade.
The easiest thing to do with this Mourinho story is wait on the edge of our seats for what’s about to happen next. You can practically see the excitement even before anything has been confirmed. But we’re also waiting to see whether Mourinho becomes an exception to the rule that signing past managers and players can be a risky venture, or whether he just stands to reaffirm that idea.