The 50 year-old divides opinion like few others. Some love him for his charisma, intellect and humour. Very many others hate him for his perceived arrogance and downright ignorance.
Mourinho has of course this week returned to Stamford Bridge to once again take over the reins as manager of Chelsea FC. Many view Mourinho as the embodiment of the blight that is the modern world of professional football; too cocky, too brash, too loud, too pompous – too much.
I say that Mourinho’s eccentricities are just what 21st century top flight football needs. No offence to his predecessor on the Kings Road, Rafael Benitez, but he’s not going to keep a packed press room entertained with sound bite after sound bite now is he? In fact, Benitez isn’t even going to keep a press room packed now is he?
Mourinho on the other hand is guaranteed box office. Good looking, suave, sophisticated, articulate, multi-lingual, intelligent, abrasive and outgoing, the Portuguese native is a journalist’s dream.
Yes there are times that Mourinho goes too far; during Mourinho’s first incarnation as Blues’ boss and following a Champions League tie between Chelsea and Barcelona in March 2005, Mourinho accused referee Anderson Frisk and the then Barcelona head coach Frank Rijkaard of breaking FIFA rules by having a meeting at half–time in the referee’s dressing room.
Mourinho insisted that this biased the referee and caused him to send off Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in the second half. In the aftermath of this (untrue) incident, UEFA referee’s chief, Volker Roth, labeled Mourinho an “enemy of football” and Mourinho was hit with a £250,000 fine as Frisk retired prematurely from refereeing having received viable death threats.
Arguably more infamously still, as Real Madrid manager, Mourinho poked his finger in the eye of then assistant Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova during a brawl. Complaints over referees were also rife as well as clashes with journalists and Los Blancos’ officials and frequent hints that Barca received favourable treatment from UEFA as well as the failure to land Real Madrid’s tenth European Cup/Champions League title led to Mourinho being shown the exit door “by mutual consent” at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu at the end of the season just finished, paving the way for his much heralded return to west London.
Mourinho has now stated that he returns to Chelsea as a more mature manager who is ready to bring stability to the club, despite the fact that he has never managed any club for more than three years during his now 13 year career as a top flight football manager.
José’s return to Chelsea of course brings with it much baggage. Having won two Champions League titles, two FA Premier League crowns, two Serie A titles and a La Liga championship, he is one of the most successful managers in the world.
The re-appointment of Mourinho at the Bridge will be viewed as an effort at mending the bridge (pardon the pun) created by Roman Abramovich’s bizarre appointment of interim manager Benitez as manager back in November. Mourinho is also a much sexier character (both physically and verbally) than the Spaniard. One is reminded of a meme doing the rounds a few months ago. There were two photos put together with Mourinho standing and smiling beside Cristiano Ronaldo while another photo juxtaposed that Mourinho/Ronaldo pic of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson talking into the ear of Wayne Rooney. The caption to the photo was a speech bubble from Ferguson’s lips stating: “Don’t worry; they’re only a little bit better looking than us!”
One wonders if the re-appointment of Mourinho is a concession by hierarchy at Chelsea that his way is the best way and that the club cannot be successful without “The Special One”? There are also of course the questions over his temperament and aforementioned bad (outrageous?) behaviour whilst also the fact that he clearly lost the dressing room at Real Madrid whilst never bringing true success (a first Champions League title in a decade) to the club.
The oldest of proverbs tells us that one should never go back – there was a reason you left in the first place. Whether that proves to be the case for José Mourinho and Chelsea FC, only time will tell. One thing for certain is that it will be an entertaining ride, which I for one am looking forward to witnessing.
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