As the 'Special One' closes in on a return to Stamford Bridge, Shikharr Chandra looks as to why Mourinho's return shall reinvigorate the Blues squad....
11 years of Roman Abramovich reign, 9 managers. Names like Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti have all tried their luck at making Chelsea a force again. Although the latter brought some honours to the Blues during his 2 year period at the club, he was sacked brutally at the end of 2011 for a failure to win trophies. Bottom line is that none of these managers have ever come close to replicating the aura, the zeal left behind by Jose Mourinho.
For many Chelsea fans over the years Mourinho has been nothing less than 'God'. Such has been the impact of the Portuguese manager during his three year tenure that not only the fans but the club as well has not been able to get over the success, the squad and most importantly his presence in the dugout. A team briefing that always ended with "we cannot lose", Mourinho instilled a winning mentality in the Chelsea squad.
Taking over a squad left behind by Claudio Ranieri, Mourinho turned the Blues into one of the powerhouses of European football. Although his methods were criticized, blamed for 'boring football' and often criticized for his bluntness, Mourinho's Chelsea was without doubt one of the finest club teams.
On taking over from Claudio Ranieri back in 2004, Mourinho was quick to point out the shortcomings of his predecessor.
|“They [Chelsea] wanted to win and it was never going to happen with him, It is really not my fault if he was considered a loser.”- Jose on Ranieri|
Such was the way of the self proclaimed 'Special One' and he was not wrong. In his first season Mourinho bagged the double of a Premier League and the Carling Cup (now known as the Capital One Cup) which was followed by the Premier League trophy in the next year and a domestic cup double in his third.
Mourinho's love affair with the club ended midway into his fourth season as he parted ways with Chelsea on mutual consent. Roman Abramovich paid a staggering £18m to get rid of him. Mourinho continued his journey with Inter Milan and Real Madrid but for the Russian oligarch and Chelsea, they failed to find a steady man.
9 years forward, and Jose Mourinho is back to the club where he is loved.
|"I know I'm loved by some clubs, especially one. In Spain it is a big difference. Some people hate me."- Mourinho after the Champions League Semi-Final|
Beaten by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, a comprehensive defeat in the La Liga and an unhappy dressing room, Mourinho's final season at Madrid saw the manager on the end of some hard criticism. Openly admitting as this to be his worst season in football, Mourinho will look to bounce back, answer his critics and what better way to do it with a club that really catapulted him into the limelight.
Mourinho and Chelsea's flirting relationship has been going on for years now with the Portuguese manager being linked to the club on numerous occasions but it was his post-match interview after the Borussia Dortmund game that really sparked the rumours of his return to England, and most probably Chelsea.
With his relationship at Real Madrid ending, Abramovich can save himself a few millions now that the Portuguese manager is a free agent.
Mourinho's second coming couldn't have been better timed. Granted a heroes reception on his return, Mourinho finds himself replacing a man who was his successor as he left Inter Milan for Real Madrid in the summer of 2010.
He finds himself in a league where the top 2 teams have just changed their manager, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal are yet to win silverware in the last 8 seasons and his counterpart Andre Villas-Boas's Tottenham are on the verge of losing their star player.
But with all the excitement surrounding Stamford Bridge, there comes an element of risk as well.
It is often a bad idea to start a relationship that ended on a sour note. Although Mourinho and Abramovich deny any hard feelings between them it will be difficult for both to compromise and start afresh.
Mourinho is the kind of manager who likes to call all shots at the club. A man who wants full control over the transfer dealings and the players - something he had back in 2004 when he took over with Peter Kenyon as the Chief Executive Officer. Finding a middle ground for the two power circles that is Mourinho and Abramovich would be tricky.
Things have changed though.
Mourinho now takes over a Chelsea side with Ron Gourlay and Technical Director Michael Emenalo, who was handed over the club recruitment policy by Abramovich, acting as Mourinho's "seniors". Last time around, Mourinho's demise at Chelsea started with the hiring of Avram Grant and head talent scout Frank Arnesen in the more senior role. Less power for the manager and more for the senior hierarchy saw club bring in the likes of Andriy Shevchenko, a player Mourinho was pretty vocal about.
Another challenge Mourinho faces is with the squad in hand.
Mourinho takes over a Chelsea squad that lacks depth and quality in various areas. Fernando Torres whose time at Chelsea has been nothing short of nightmare seems to have done enough to stay at Chelsea for another season after his decent goal tally last time around. But is he fit enough to be the club's front man under Jose Mourinho? That certainly looks doubtful. With Demba Ba not impressing as well, Mourinho might well have to spend big this summer or take a gamble with on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku.
Mourinho's Chelsea of 2004 was built around the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba soon followed by Ashley Cole. With Drogba already leaving the club, Mourinho faces the possibility of losing Terry, Lampard and Cole within a season as they are all in the final year of their contract. Lampard and Cole who were handed an year long extension and could be released by the club thereafter. Terry hasn't had a great campaign and his long term future at the club is mired in doubt
With rumuors linking David Luiz to Barcelona, it will be interesting to see what Mourinho decides on this. Over the years, he has preferred dominant center-backs with the likes of Riccardo Carvalho, Walter Samuel, and John Terry, a trait Luiz does not share. But what the Brazilian center-back does offer is the initiation of the attacks from the back. And with Chelsea changing their approach to a more free flowing style rather than direct football, Luiz's presence could be vital for the Blues.
What the 50 year old would not have to worry about though will be the pressure of winning over the fans something his predecessors have faced. Villas-Boas, Scolari and Rafa Benitez had fans turning their backs against them.
Known extensively for his motivational skills, Mourinho should have no problems adjusting to this new look Chelsea side who themselves have been talking about his possible return. But what might be interesting to see is how well Mourinho incorporates the "three amigos" in the starting XI.
Whatever happens though, we are in for a long journey ahead as Mourinho is set to make his start his second stint. Will it be a hit or not, we will have to wait and see but with Mourinho's return Chelsea will have found their swagger back.
The club are set to welcome its greatest manager in recent history. Exciting times lie ahead for the London club. Can Chelsea reclaim their lost identity?
What do you think, will Mourinho be a hit at Chelsea? Respond in the comments section below or get in touch with the writer @ShikharrC
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