Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Mourinho and Chelsea: The Perfect Match

By Shane Thomas

So, it's official. A special one returns. It bears stating that Jose Mourinho's first press conference in England is alongside Bob Geldof's, "Give me the money!" in terms of memorably misquoted utterances. Despite what the press would have you believe, Mourinho never dubbed himself, "The Special One." He dubbed himself, "A special one."

But as Mark Twain said, "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story." And Jose Mourinho returning to manage Chelsea is a very good story.

The most successful head coach in the history of the club, adored by the fans, and one of a select few men to win a treble (with Inter Milan) and win the European Cup/Champions League twice. What could go wrong?

Well, to start, Mourinho leaves Real Madrid after a mixed spell at the Santiago Bernabeu. On the credit side, he won them their first Spanish league title in 4 seasons, with a record points total (since equalled by Barcelona), and likely played some part in Pep Guardiola's departure from the Catalan giants.

But he failed to win La Decima - the sole reason for his hiring at Madrid in the first place. He was also a scabrous and divisive influence in Spain, falling out with executives and players alike. And that was just at his own club. During Real's 4-2 victory over Osasuna, the fans were split, with some chanting Mourinho's name, and others chanting, "Hasta nunca, Mourinho", roughly translated as, "Good riddance, Mourinho".

For the more conscientious Chelsea fan, it will be eerily similar to Mourinho's last few weeks at Chelsea, when he fell out with some of his players, the British tabloid press' fealty towards him was waning, and he became more trouble than he was worth; not a big mouth who won trophies, but just a big mouth.

But even more telling, is that in a summer that has had the biggest turnover of managerial changes in recent memory, Mourinho was nearly left on the wall, waiting to be picked. We have seen vacancies arrive at Manchester United, Manchester City, Napoli, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, with a further vacancy expected to come at Paris St Germain.

However, not one of these clubs showed the Portugese much interest. While the narrative will be that the lure of past success was too strong to resist, Chelsea appeared to be the last cab off the rank for Mourinho.

And similar to Mourinho, it was known that Chelsea would be requiring a new head coach for months. And yet, the queue of potential suitors wasn't much of a queue at all. When linked with them a year ago, Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers memorably stated that he was, "trying to build his career, and not destroy it."

On the face of it, in and of themselves, both Chelsea and Mourinho seem appealing. One is a club bankrolled by one of the richest men in the game, who isn't in football for the money, but for the glory. His club have won 6 trophies in 5 seasons - including a memorable triumph in the Champions League.

And Mourinho? League titles in four different countries, the UEFA Cup, 2 Champions League titles, and some of the most impressive sides in the recent history of the game - all while being headline news, and a constant stream of 'copy-fodder' for journalists.

But Chelsea isn't always a healthy working environment. And this comes from the owner, Roman Abramovich. He isn't only wealthy. He's demanding, and can be capricious in his decision making. Journalist, Iain MacIntosh, brilliantly lampooned him in this article. At times, he acts like a toddler who takes joy in building a sandcastle, but takes greater joy in destroying it.

And while Mourinho may bring a proven track record of success, his methodology is making it tougher for the ends to justify the means. The team spirit that was often the strongest aspect of his Chelsea and Inter Milan squads was completely absent at Real, and his penchant for mischief making was no longer seen as part of his armoury of management, but the behaviour of a habitual troublemaker.

Neither party offers any constancy or security, and the football world has finally realised that. The erratic and tempestuous (professional) past of both Mourinho and Abramovich mean that the rest of football looks upon them as two alluring but volatile suitors that have ended up back together, simply because they have nowhere else to go.

At the time of writing, I'd have Chelsea as favourites to win next season's Premier League title. But most football fans don't look on Mourinho's return with much envy. Not any more.

Mourinho and Chelsea? They deserve each other.

"The Greatest Events in Sporting History" is available to download from http://www.simplysyndicated.com/shows/sportinghistory/, e-mail us at sportshistoryshow@googlemail.com and you can follow us on Twitter @TGEISH

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