The Special One makes return to Stamford Bridge
It’s official! After months of speculation about his future in charge of Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho is set to make an emotional return to the hot-seat at Chelsea. He has signed a four-year contract and is expected to win the trophies that chairman Roman Abramovich craves.
In his three years in charge at the Bridge, Mourinho amassed six trophies, making him the most successful manager in the club’s history. He also made plenty of enemies in his time there, but the Blues fans adored him and still do to this day.
A lot has happened since Chelsea and Mourinho went their separate ways. The Blues won the league under Carlo Ancelotti, the Champions League with Roberto di Matteo and, most recently, the Europa League under interim boss Rafael Benitez.
As for Jose, he won a historic treble with Inter which was possibly his most remarkable managerial achievement. Winning the Champions League, Coppa Italia and Serie A with an ageing squad showed his knack for getting the best out of his players.
Sadly for the Portuguese, his spell at Real Madrid wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. He did win the League title, but didn’t deliver the Champions League, which is what the club’s bosses demanded from him. Could his hastily-engineered exit from the Bernabeu herald a second coming?
Then and now
A lot has happened elsewhere prior to Mourinho’s seemingly inevitable comeback. Great rival Sir Alex Ferguson has retired as Man Utd boss, so he won’t have any more memorable battles with the legendary Scot, while Manchester City have emerged as a new moneybags rival.
At the same time, some of the stars who helped Jose to enjoy so much success at Chelsea have either moved on or are entering the twilight of their careers.
Didier Drogba has moved on to Galatasaray (via China), John Terry is now the wrong side of 30 and all of the players he brought to Chelsea with him from Porto have left too.
Frank Lampard, despite his advancing years, remains a great performer and has recently extended his stay at Stamford Bridge by at least another year.
Coming back to the scene of some of his many triumphs, Mourinho has plenty of new challenges facing him. The most appealing will surely be the opportunity to spend a reported £100m transfer kitty on much-needed reinforcements.
He will also be able to work with exciting talents such as Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard; while younger players such as the returning Romelu Lukaku may be given a chance; but there are plenty of problems he might have to solve.
One such question surrounds the future of Fernando Torres. The underperforming record signing has misfired throughout his time at Chelsea, and barring a glut of goals against weak opposition in the Europa League, he didn’t do too much to justify that £50m price tag this season either.
Also, Mourinho has to make a decision on what to do with John Terry. Although he’s still a good defender, there are signs that he’s a fair distance away from being at the peak of his powers, and has all but fallen from grace in the eyes of the English footballing community – a far cry from his time as England captain during Mourinho’s tenure at the Bridge.
Who’s coming in?
As well as selling players, Mourinho is expected to bring in a few new faces. The priority areas should be defence and attack, with a possible replacement for Torres in the offing.
Possible bids for Napoli’s Edinson Cavani, Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini and the promising Porto centre-back Eliaquim Mangala could be placed.
Andre Schurrle of Bayer Leverkusen, an exciting winger, could also arrive this summer at the expense of the as-yet-untested André Villas Boas signing Kevin De Bruyne.
Whoever he buys, everyone expects him to win major trophies in his first season back. The Premier League and Champions League should be his main targets, especially the former, as they have finished third and sixth in the past two seasons.
With two talented yet trophyless managers in charge of both Manchester clubs, the chances are that his comeback will be triumphant.
It’s likely that Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool are a little short of being considered major challengers for this upcoming season, though Spurs manager Villas Boas is likely to relish the opportunity to pit his wits against his former mentor.
Don’t be surprised if the clash between student and master decides the fate of the Barclays Premier League title this season.