JOSÉ’S NEXT BIG CHALLENGE
When José finally packs his bags, collects his Ikea boxes and exits Santiago Bernebéu for the last time as manager of the Merengues he might have excuse to glance over his shoulder with more than a twinge of regret over what he did not achieve. If so, it would only be the 2nd time in his illustrious, storming ‘Genghis Khan style’ raid and plunder of the treasures of the European Football world.
The first time of course would have followed the fall-out between Mourinho and Abramovich after the two squabbled over who was the true leader of the revolution down at Stamford Bridge and Roman was forced to remind José who paid the bills and consequently provided the impetus and fuel behind José’s determined assault during his UK campaign.
Mourinho’s march and myth continued on however as the special one and his chosen Portuguese ‘council of war’ rampaged on through Italy at Milan, to Spain and Madrid. Despite failing to collect Real’s tenth European title and become the 1st manager to win European Cups with 3 separate teams he has managed to desist any really damaging criticism of his super-analytical style of coaching and management. Indeed Mourinho’s men have managed to incorporate differing styles of play using varied tactics and playing squads while collecting two Serie A titles, one La Liga, several domestic cups and Inter’s 1st European Cup for 45 years. These achievements have no doubt continued to impress Gospodin Abramovich who was after all one of José’s earliest admirers and for this reason it is looking increasingly likely José will return to continue his self-confessed love affair with the English game.
Whether either of these supreme ego’s can score points over the other in assuming they have proved a point, only the future will reveal but I personally would rather inflect that both men will have learned they needed each other far more than they realised when they agreed to that separation back in 2007. Since, reportedly Mr A has continued to ply José with love-gifts, such as £1/4 million watches while reputedly José has returned the compliment by advising the silent Russian on football matters. Through José’s six-year sabbatical or exile, depending on your point of view, many of us have continued to bang the gong for José’s return on the grounds that he has ‘unfinished business’ at the south London club.
Like having lost an integral piece of the jigsaw, a long-lost and beloved son there is no doubt there will be no bigger party given, at least by Chelsea fans, if the prodigal should return for Season 2013/14 and while head honchos’ at all of England’s Premier League teams may feel a damp sweat glistening at the prospect of the controversial one’s return, generally I think the English game will welcome back this bad-boy especially with the recent loss of 2 major personalities from the Mancunian sector. Somewhat strangely though my feeling is, that should José make his long-awaited and expected ‘2nd coming’ return down the Fulham Road and in at the gates of Chelsea Football Club he will again surprise most everyone by making the biggest swerve in his sensational career and not in the way most people might imagine.
Mourinho’s romance with this country is not purely football related and he has made no secret in the past about his love of most things English and especially London. He has in fact retained a London home since he departed the club and his daughter is reported to have recently signed up for an Art Course in Camberwell. He always claimed that his wife and family had enjoyed their time living in London. It is very clear to me that only the managers position at Manchester United would have interested him more than returning home to his beloved ‘blues’.
That particular opportunity has passed him by for now with United’s new manager already announced but I would not expect José has given up believing that one day he might still add a trophy or two as top-man of the only distinct rival to Real Madrid’s claim that they are the biggest name in World football. A return to Stamford Bridge would keep that ‘Old Trafford’ option bubbling away on the back burner whereas a spell at Manchester City would certainly render that future possibility distinctly mute.
José would no doubt have been stung by the open criticism from many quarters but chiefly from within the United club where famed stars such as Bobby Charlton and Peter Schmeichel have openly stated they did not feel Mourinho’s footprint would fit right in at a club steeped in in its own proud tradition. While other fans may be unable to hide a grin, which in turn betrays a school-boy giggle at such anal and indulgent self-appreciation, we might also concede they do have a point. It will not have been missed by José that despite his fawning, almost embarrassing appreciation of Sir Alex after the CL quarter-final that apparently emperor Ferguson must have given J.M. the thumbs down when it came to passing the mantel of responsibility for team affairs at Old Trafford. That would have hurt!
Man United would definitely have found it hard to wear Mourinho’s hat it’s true but a lot of us are old enough to remember managerial choices at Old Trafford that were not particularly successful or indeed very refined. Frank O’Farrell, Tommy Doc, big Ron Atkinson were they such wholesome characters ?!? It sounds like Sir Alex escaped by the skin of his teeth a few times early on in his United career so lets not proceed down the ‘divine right for United success route’, whoever they appoint.
David Moyes still has much to prove and maybe he will not be so lucky if results desert him either next season or 2/3 years down the line and that despite Sir Alex’s parting endorsement. Should the unthinkable occur then maybe United would still be ripe for a bit of Mourinho magic. I’m sure that’s how José might see it anyway.
So for now, should Josḗ Mourinho take up the challenge of raising Chelsea to the next rung on the ladder it is my view that he will want to do things very differently to the last time he arrived, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and very much ‘not of the bottle’. For no other reason than that he has looked recently a little like one of those disenchanted cherub pictures. Jealously aware and party to the many kind words floating over Old Trafford towards Sir Alex at what he has achieved. That longing for a deeper appreciation may well have been further fanned and flamed by stinging criticism he received from certain quarters during his time in Italy and even more personally at Real, as well as from the Manchester elect where there are more than a few who felt he was not quite worthy of the ‘Sir Alex’ kind of respect.
Jose has also looked recently not a little weary of ‘it all’. Could that phsycology suggest he might be considering the idea himself of ‘settling down’ and planning for a contented retirement like his revered father figure will soon enjoy. Some Chelsea fans might hold their hands up in horror at the thought that after six years of patiently waiting like Jacob in the famous bible story, they may not actually be getting ‘the special one’ they wanted or the Josḗ they remember.
Contrary to those speculative misgivings I would suggest that what Josḗ may want to bring to the football club this time around is precisely what Chelsea FC require at this present time. Stability and the development of a more ‘holistic approach’ from grass-roots and youth level outward which actually has been in place at the club a lot longer than many may credit and what the owners apparently crave now at Manchester City where someone recently dreamed up that particular mission statement.
Whatever misgivings, admittedly only a minority at Chelsea might hold regarding the reappointment of Mr Mourinho and his coaching staff, there can surely be no one better qualified to fan the flames of loyalty and support again after the cold pragmatism of coach-supremo Rafa who definitely was not the peoples choice but it should surprise no one if Josḗ comes this time with a brand new agenda for the future of the club which may on this occasion, independently match the aspirations of the owner.
Roman must have had such a long and settled future in mind when he selected the starlet AVB to manage us, unbelievably not 24 months ago. Andres Villas Boas, well versed in recent Chelsea history and Mourinho-style ways must have seemed the perfect choice to lead the club into a new calmer future and clear out the dead-wood of controversial and entrenched player personalities. Roman saw that plan was not going to work and had to review a lot of his ideas as his ageing Chelsea team went and won the Champions League in the most surprising way. Now it seems Roman can have his ‘original’ back and rid of a certain ‘wanderlust’ after Josḗ’s travels and once again to my mind he may have struck lucky and we could well be on the verge of a beautiful thing indeed.
Should Josḗ return to lead a ‘counter revolution’ at the South London club, maybe nursing a subliminal hope that he might still convince the hierarchy at Old Trafford he can be responsible and grounded like Sir Alex, it is possible his first-love English club might prove charming enough to convince him that he could not earn the deeper respect he craves anywhere better than in England’s capital city and at the home of the ‘super-blues”