After Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez announced that their manager, Jose Mourinho would not be staying on despite signing a new contract last season, Chelsea fans around the world celebrated.
After all, the Special/Only One would be returning to the place where “he is loved by both the fans and the media” after five long, arduous years during which Chelsea won the Champions League, the Europa League, a Premier League title and the FA Cup. The cries of “Jose come back” were present the moment arch rival, Rafa Benitez was chosen as the manager to replace club legend, Roberto di Matteo. Their prayers were answered and for now, it looks like all the roads in Jose Mourinho’s career lead to Stamford Bridge. But there are some reasons why his return may not be as good as it looks on paper.
Jose Mourinho has always left his clubs with a bang, as proven by his acrimonious exit in the Copa del Rey final against Athletico where he was sent off and also decided to boycott the medal presentation on Friday night. He is not a person who leaves quietly and did the same thing when he left Chelsea after falling out with club owner, Roman Abramovich in 2007. So despite their earlier differences, why has Roman Abramovich decided to appoint Mourinho again? Simple. They both like to win. Despite winning two European trophies in the last two years, Chelsea haven’t won the Premier League for four years. They have always been in the title race but the last two seasons, they have bowed down to the pressure created by both the Manchester clubs along with the sudden rise of London rivals, Tottenham. Barely scraping it into the Champions League for two years in a row is not Abramovich’s style and his desire to get the Premier League back to Stamford Bridge is what has brought Jose Mourinho back to Chelsea for a second time.
But there is a catch. Both may like to win but Jose Mourinho has always prioritised winning over style, something which Abramovich has craved ever since he bought the club from Ken Bates. He has always wanted the club to play “sexy football” and this has been shown by his purchases along with the public wooing of Pep Guardiola. Players like Mata, Hazard and Oscar have all been brought in to realise this dream and at times last season, Chelsea did do their owner justice. Victories such as the 4-1 against Norwich City and the 8-0 demolition of Aston Villa have shown that Chelsea do have the potential to win with style and panache. Jose Mourinho on the other hand, has always been associated with results, not style. He has been pragmatic, straight-forward and slightly defense-minded in his approach to a football game, helping his team eke out 1-0 or 2-1 victories on most occasions.
His style of play has always been rigid, formulaic and negative, probably one of the reasons a player such as Joe Cole was never able to reach the true heights of his potential. Burdened under Mourinho’s rigid tactics, Cole was never allowed to flourish and use his talents with the Portuguese manager going on to say in 2004, ‘Joe can be a regular but he has to improve when the team needs him to be part of a defensive organisation.’ Now, not being a part of defensive organisation is something that players like Hazard and Mata have been accused of in the past with the media saying that the reason Chelsea conceded so many goals from the flanks was because Hazard and Mata never offered much help to full backs, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic/Cesar Azpilicueta. Under Mourinho, the license to roam and the creative abilities of “the Three Amigos” could be revoked and they would be limited to properly defined and rigid roles.
There is no doubt that bringing Mourinho would go quite some way to getting back the trust of the supporters but it also means that the board, and Mourinho are looking at this for the short term. Abramovich has always wanted to create long, successful dynasties like at Barcelona which was the reason why managers like Carlo Ancelotti and Andre Villas-Boas were brought in. However, Mourinho himself has said on many occasions that he had no desire of staying at a club for a long period and that three years was probably the most he could stay at a club before he opts to leave or the club decides to kick him out. Mourinho has always put his career before his employers and in any case, replicating Barcelona would be the LAST thing he would choose to do.
Mourinho comes back to the Premier League when it is in a state of flux. A new manager for both Manchester United (just their second manager in the Premier League era) and Manchester City means that the time is ripe for Mourinho to seize the moment and the spotlight at the same time. But whether he will be able to conjure up the same magic which brought him back here in the first place is a question that for the time being, remains unanswered. Also, who will replace him when he inevitably walks out the manager’s office?