Football

Jose Mourinho faces make-or-break Chelsea campaign

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Chelsea fans quickly fell in love with Jose Mourinho when he arrived in the Premier League in 2004. In truth, we all saw him coming: no one will ever forget his dash down the touchline at Old Trafford as his Porto side knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League.

The months that followed that famous night in Manchester were pretty special for Mourinho: he went on to win the Champions League with Porto, and then arrived at Chelsea announcing himself to the world.

Remember this?

"I have top players and I'm sorry, we have a top manager. Please do not call me arrogant because what I say is true. I'm European champion, I'm not one out of the bottle, I think I'm a special one."

Of course you do.

The 'Special One'

No one will ever forget Mourinho's first press conference as Chelsea manager. Everyone, from journalists to fans, quickly drew up their own opinion on the the self proclaimed 'Special One'.

And, there's no doubt about it, Mourinho lived up to his name in his first stint at Stamford Bridge. In 185 games - between 2004 and 2007 – Mourinho's side secured victory in 124 of them.

On April 30 2005, Mourinho led Chelsea to their first title in 50-years, as Frank Lampard struck twice to secure the Blues a Carling Cup and Premier League double. Just under one-year later - on April 29 2006 - Mourinho's side were at it again as they demolished Manchester United 3-0 at Stamford Bridge to claim back-to-back titles.

Mourinho's Chelsea side in 05' and '06' proved a ruthless outfit: they were unbeatable at the Bridge, and knew how to get the job done on rival soil. The likes of John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Co. quickly understood Mourinho's philosophy, and they used it to their advantage as they dominated English football.

The title success in 05' lived up to Mourinho's 'Special' nickname: his side cruised to success as they claimed 95 points - 12 more than Arsene Wenger's Arsenal and 18 more than Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United. Mourinho, in just one season, ended Wenger's and Ferguson's Premier League dominance.

And, he didn't stop there. In the 2005/06 campaign, the Blues smashed the 90 point record again...this time securing 91 points. Over the course of the two seasons, Chelsea's home Premier League record read: 32 wins, 6 draws and 0 defeats.

Pretty special, eh?

Post Chelsea

But, Mourinho's love affair with Chelsea - and Roman Abramovich - ended in September 2007 as he left the club by mutual consent. After an indifferent start to the 2007/08 campaign, it appeared that Mourinho's relationship with the club's owner had reached boiling point. Avram Grant took over at the Bridge, and Chelsea surrendered their title to Manchester United.

Mourinho, however, quickly moved on.

In 2008, the Portuguese tactician opted for the Serie A and Inter Milan. Once again, back-to-back titles followed his arrival, and he even managed to secure a second Champions League trophy in his short career.

After a famous treble with Inter, Mourinho confirmed his next challenge: Real Madrid. His spell in Spain, though, wasn't his finest hour. Despite claiming a La Liga title in 2011/12, Mourinho's stint at the Bernabeu didn't go to plan. Their was no La Decima for the Spanish giants, and Mourinho was on his way back to England.

Biggest challenge yet

But, ever since his Chelsea return last summer, Mourinho hasn't been the same man. "I am the Happy One.”

But, it was what Mourinho said towards the end of last season that really stood-out: "Nowadays there must be something really special between a manager and a club, or the manager must be something really special, to be there for five or ten years. It must be a special situation.

"I'm not saying I'll have that security to be here until the end of my contract or beyond. I just try and prove I can do my job. The Chelsea job is different than in previous years. The team that won the trophies at Chelsea is over. We need to build another team. It's a transition period."

Not so confident now, Jose?

This Mourinho doesn't seem to be the arrogant self assured one that we first met back in 2004. He seems calm, but should he be?

Three years?

After all, he's about to embark upon his biggest season yet as a football manager. In fact, the up-coming campaign could define his legacy. If Mourinho fails at Chelsea this year, then he would go a third year in a row without silverware...

Has the 'Special One' lost his special touch?

Last season, despite having the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, John Terry (again) and Frank Lampard (again), Mourinho seemed to surrender the title before the challenge even began. The strange thing about the situation, however, was that Mourinho's team were in with a fine chance of landing the Premier League title.

A victory against eventual title winners Manchester City looked to swing the pendulum in favour of the Blues, but Mourinho seemingly failed to believe that 2013/14 was going to be his team's season.

He insisted that his side weren't ready, and they were eventually defeated in their quest for the title as they finished in third place. But was the challenge really ever on? Not according to Jose...

Huge season

This year, however, Mourinho won't be able to make excuses. He now has the team he wants: Cesc Fabregas, Filipe Luis, Diego Costa and Didier Drogba have arrived, while Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, David Luiz, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o have departed.

Mourinho has two of the best goalkeepers in world football at his disposal in Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech, and he still has Belgian superstar Eden Hazard at his disposal, along with Oscar, Ramires and Co. 2015 has to be Chelsea's year or Mourinho's second spell at the Bridge could be over in quicker time than his first.

In truth, a third trophy-less season could lose Mourinho his job...and where would he go from there?

It's unlikely that a return to La Liga or the Serie A will appeal to Mourinho. Why would they? Perhaps, then, a move to one of the French moneybags could be his next step...could he be the man to take Paris Saint-Germain to the next level in Europe?

Say it quietly, but after Chelsea, is there much more out there as a club manager for Mourinho? Another year without silverware could lead the Blues boss to the international scene. England or Portugal, perhaps?

The pressure is well and truly on Mourinho this year: a ball hasn't been kicked in this Premier League season, but Chelsea are the team many have tipped for success.

Failure isn't an option in 2014/15. It's a huge year for Chelsea, and an even bigger year for Mourinho. He must install a winning machine once again at the Bridge or face another ugly Chelsea exit.

And, this time, it's an exit that would leave him in limbo.

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Topics:
Chelsea
Premier League
Football

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