The buzz surrounding Jose Mourinho’s anticipated return to Chelsea could prove short-lived, with his heroic homecoming being hampered by a number of realistic factors.
In fact, any second stint at Stamford Bridge could turn out to be nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
Despite enjoying unprecedented highs, the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’s’ career has also endured painful lows; he described the season just ended as the worst of his career, and his original Chelsea reign ended in tears when his relationship with Blues owner Roman Abramovich broke down entirely.
Neither man seems to have changed their character dramatically. In 2011, a particularly vicious El Clasico was summed up as Mourinho plunged his hand into the eye of then-Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova with Madrid facing defeat.
It is these antics and that have always held Mourinho back; his reported interest in succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson was slapped down by Manchester United director Bobby Charlton, who feared Mourinho’s histrionics would damage the club’s reputation.
Perhaps tellingly, the eventual ‘Chosen One’ David Moyes has never – as far as is known – poked anyone in the eye, nor told his players to pick up ‘tactical bookings’ to avoid being suspended for important games.
Rows with Iker Casillas, Pepe and Sergio Ramos have marred his time at the Bernebau, and Madrid did not even request compensation from any potential new employers, such was their urge to move forward from a tumultuous period in their history.
He has been vilified by the Spanish press for causing divisions in the previously unshakeable Spanish national side, although he faces no such problem in England where he is adored by journalists and fans alike.
One of his few supporters in the Madrid dressing room, Luka Modric, is rumoured to be following his old coach to Stamford Bridge should the appointment happen in a £30m swoop. The Croatian playmaker did not set La Liga alight with his performances last season, but he is typical of a reign where little went right for Mourinho.
The post-Ferguson period begins next season, and Chelsea now have a wonderful opportunity to tackle Manchester United’s supremacy. But the Blues’ squad is barely recognisable from the side that won him the Premier League in 2005 and 2006.
Stars Didier Drogba and Joe Cole have departed, while Petr Cech, John Terry and Frank Lampard are all six years older and arguably past their best.
FIFA’s impending ‘Financial Fair Play’ regulations mean Mourinho cannot be guaranteed the same budget he was gifted then. In 2004, Mourinho inherited a team that Claudio Ranieri had only just begun to build, but six years on, the side is made up of the stylish, slick Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard. Does this really look like a Mourinho team on paper?
After the furore surrounding Rafa Benitez’s ‘interim’ title, Chelsea need stability, and Mourinho is certainly not the man to provide it. Admittedly, the English league is becoming increasingly like its continental counterparts; after Arsene Wenger, the Premier League's second longest-serving manager is Alan Pardew – who joined Newcastle in December 2010.
Chelsea’s all-too-brief encounter with Andre Villas-Boas demonstrated that Abramovich lacks patience, and it cannot really be said that he has displayed any commitment to long-term building. Which is just as well, as Mourinho will not provide it.
Chelsea may want to look across London to the Emirates Stadium, where in spite of an apparent trophy draught, Wenger has built a team with the future in mind.
Even Villas-Boas’ Spurs side, albeit in its early stages, is showing signs of promise with youngsters such as Tom Carroll and Harry Kane.
Mourinho is yet to build such a team, and has relied too heavily on big spending in the transfer market. He leaves Madrid after a trophy-less season and not only in the shadows of Barcelona – even in their own city they are under threat, with Atletico Madrid having won three trophies in under two years.
It will take a ‘Special’ turn of fate for Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea to have any real success.
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