Sport Soccer

Sunday 21 January 2018

Marriage of Convenience for Mourinho and Chelsea

True love at Chelsea – or is Mourinho just seeking comfort in arms of an old flame with return to Stamford Bridge?

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

Rachel Wyse

Some people advise against revisiting an old love. They insist the story may appear to be new, but the ending is already known. Either Jose Mourinho wasn't listening – or he doesn't care for such wisdom.

Portugal's 'Special One' has chosen to rekindle his love affair with Chelsea. This time around, he believes his return to London is the beginning of a marriage. Surprising sentiments, considering his career to date has been about 'flings', moving between clubs in Europe like a nomad.

Divorce lawyers have been busy on the Fulham Road and if Mourinho's sentiments are genuine, his tenure will make for fascinating viewing.

However, I find his latest move a strange one. I am sure he has happy memories of a successful three years at a club where fans idolise him, but owner Roman Abramovich hasn't left town and therein lies the puzzle.

HABITS

Perhaps Abramovich has agreed to change the habits of a lifetime and perhaps Mourinho's ego is now smaller – but I somehow doubt it.

In September 2007, when Mourinho's initial spell at Chelsea came to an end, the club released a statement explaining the decision. The statement said: "The reason the decision has been taken is that we believed the breakdown (between Mourinho and owner Roman Abramovich) started to impact on the performance of the team. Recent results supported this view. We did not want this to continue or affect the club further."

Six years on, Mourinho now speaks of marriage. So, what's changed? The owner has clearly learned nothing or seen fit to change his ways. Grant, Scolari, Wilkins, Hiddink, Ancelotti, Villas-Boas, Di Matteo and Benitez may all attest to that fact.

Reports claim Abramovich has clear ideas on how his team should play the beautiful game, ideas he recognised in Pep Guargiola's approach and end product in Barcelona. Despite dangling the keys to a land of great wealth, Chelsea and Abramovich failed to persuade Guardiola to spread his gospel in the Premier League.

Mourinho once said: "The style of how we play is very important. But it is omelettes and eggs. No eggs – no omelettes! It depends on the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket you have class one, two or class three eggs and some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes.

"So, when the class one eggs are in an expensive shop and you cannot go there, you have a problem."

Ever the entertainer, but his message is clear. He will be well aware pillars of past glories like Frank Lampard, John Terry, Petr Cech and Ashley Cole are all considerably older. Does Mourinho's return suggest Abramovich will splash the cash? Who will have the final say in Chelsea's summer signings?

The club's technical director Michael Emenalo reportedly offered his resignation in advance of Mourinho's appointment, a move which hardly suggests Emenalo can envisage himself and the new manager working in harmony. Mourinho's return has caused much speculation surrounding relationships and potential power struggles within Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho has been here before so we can only assume something has changed from 2007. Time will bring clarity to this question.

I can recall where I was in September, 2007 when I learned Mourhino was leaving Chelsea. His reappointment this week certainly hasn't had the same lasting effect. Perhaps his first spell carried a novelty factor; English football had found a charismatic new figure and someone who wasn't afraid to be different.

He was entertaining. His recent years in charge at Madrid changed perceptions. The gloss isn't so dazzling now, his stock of a lower value. He was appointed in Madrid to bring Champions league glory. He failed.

On occasions, his behavior lacked class, traits that irked many associated with a club entitled to view themselves as aristocrats in European football.

Mourhino also had serious disagreements with influential members of the Madrid dressing-room and refused to select Spanish captain Iker Casillas in his final five months at Real. On many fronts he was a man in unfamiliar territory.

Was the prospect of returning to a 'safe' environment at Chelsea the obvious step in the circumstances? A place where the fans will afford him time and few will question. Is the timing coincidental just as the two clubs that finished above Chelsea in the league this season prepare for life with new men at the helm? Prospects of dressing room disharmony at Stamford Bridge are remote, as right from the beginning Mourinho will be preaching to the converted.

I am certain Lampard and Terry will have made sure this is so. Indeed, in a recent interview I did with Juan Mata, the Spanish star said: "Jose is a great manager; he's won everything in almost every country and I think the players we have now in the dressing-room have very, very good memories about him because they won; they were so competitive and they all say this.

"For sure he's one of the best managers in the world ."

All things considered the prospect of marriage in London clearly has many merits for Chelsea's latest appointment.

Despite the brash, confident exterior, you cannot but wonder have events in Madrid scared Mourinho. Did it leave him feeling vulnerable, longing for security and familiarity? Will such experiences increase his tolerance to the way in which Chelsea's owner runs his business?

Or will the adoration of Chelsea fans erode any newly discovered humbleness as Mourhino reverts to instinct in an assured environment. Some of these questions will probably remain forever unanswered; some will be answered when this story ends.

Right now, it's the beginning, and what we do know is that the 'Special One' is back among his adoring public ready to strut in a fashion becoming of his surroundings in SW6.

Interesting times lie ahead.

Irish Independent

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