This past Sunday, a columnist for The Daily Mail, named Matt Lawton said on television that if Jose Mourinho rejoins Chelsea this summer then “he’s mad”. You can hear his reasoning on the Sunday Supplement Podcast for 24/03/13 here from “56:30”: http://www1.skysports.com/watch/tv-shows/sunday-supplement/podcasts
I think his reading of the situation is fairly typical – to me though it seems overly black and white. If you label Roman Abramovich an uncompromisingly proud egotist and Jose Mourinho a reckless, self-absorbed eccentric, then your position isn’t without evidence, but this seems like a dangerous oversimplification of two complex characters to me. I think it’s plainly obvious how Mourinho has changed considerably since he left Chelsea in 2007 and whilst nothing about Abramovich is plain, I find it almost impossible to believe his hasn’t changed in similar respects, also.
How has Mourinho changed during his time at Inter and Real Madrid? Well certainly he has become much less abrasive. When his style at Chelsea caused all of those riffs and the ultimate alienation of the owner, he could’ve reasonably put it down to an unavoidable personality clash. But now, having added the domestic contingent of Spain’s biggest club side, as well as the free press of an entire nation to a list of entities he’s aggravated to the point of total disillusion, I think he might have begun to accept that the common denominator is himself.
During the 2nd leg of Real Madrid’s last 16 tie with Manchester Utd in the UCL, he was reported to have given a lengthy, impromptu pre-match interview with MUTV in addition to, now famously, reporting after the game (which his side won) that “the best team lost”. Can you imagine the Mourinho who coached Chelsea saying something like that?
One of three things is happening here. Either Mourinho is shamelessly pandering to British football fans and writers in hope of being offered a job; he has become more diplomatic/less confrontational, or he has decided to play a new character with these specific qualities. Ruling out the first option as incalculably unlikely, options two and three I would say mean that he is deliberately changing his methods/approach to an extent where a Chelsea-return is a lot more than just possible.
What about Abramovich? Since our league win in 2010 he’s sacked three coaches and will be searching for a fifth in the summer. It won’t have escaped him that we’ve fallen further and further behind Manchester Utd every year since. One thing we can safely suggest about the Russian is that he doesn’t care what the British press write about him, or even (to a fairly large extent) what the Chelsea fan base thinks of him. He must have known the decision to sack di Matteo and hire Benitez was only going to elicit derision, mocking and criticism, and yet he did it anyway.
Given this, and given we also know that Abramovich still obviously likes Mourinho (if not why buy him a Scaglietti 612 and why keep regular contact as we’re so often told he does) why do the press so often doubt this reappointment on the grounds that the Russian “won’t admit he was wrong”? He seemed happy enough to admit he was wrong about hiring Scolari and Villas-Boas and di Matteo (full-time) didn’t he? I think the only thing we can conclude from the decisions he’s made since Mourinho left, is that he is willing to take measures for the benefit of his club, regardless of how it affects his image. Unless he likes to be viewed as a thoughtless, intransigent, hapless megalomaniac – which he probably doesn’t.
Ultimately our owner is a fan of the club and I think if he believed that re-hiring a Mourinho that wants to return was the best chance he could give his team of succeeding, then he’d do it in a second.
Going back to Jose and what Matt Lawton said, if he would be “mad” to go to Chelsea, where would he be sensible to go? Would it be sensible to apply for a job where the directors have publically criticised and rejected him before, as Soriano and Begiristain did in 2008? Would it be sensible to go to France and work with a team so far ahead of its domestic rivals that a league/cup double would be a trivial achievement? And also where the Champions League would be practically impossible to win, given the haste with which their team has been put together. As Man City have demonstrated so clearly, league titles can be bought but European Cups certainly cannot. Or would staying at Real Madrid, where at least half the fans are fed up with you and the players don’t respect you, be sensible at all? Probably not.
In my opinion the most “mad” suggestion of them all however is that Mourinho might go somewhere and “wait” for the Manchester Utd job. As though one of the greatest managers of all time would contemplate for a second, spending the prime years of his managerial career waiting for the position of one his rivals. I’d like to think this could just be asserted as nonsense on a blog for Chelsea fans. (If anybody thinks it can’t, I’ll happily debate it with you in the comment section below)
Finally, some other reasons why taking the Chelsea job in the summer would make a lot of sense:
- Firstly if Chelsea took him back the expectation is it would be for a long time, giving him a chance at creating some sustained success – which he so far hasn’t managed.
- He would be loved by the fans and respected by the players instantaniously
- He’d be managing in the only league where he’s ever seemed to be truly happy
- It’d be a great challenge given how Chelsea have fallen recently but a great oppurtunity to work with young players like Oscar, Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku. Add a top striker to this squad and I’m positive Mourinho could win the league with this Chelsea team
- He loves London and it’s where his family live and will continue to live anyway
- And he can go back and achieve the only thing that he’s failed to do so far in his career, win the Champions League with an English team.
I can’t deny my glasses, like most Chelsea fans, are heavily blue tinted when I watch Mourinho’s career. I don’t think it’s my bias however that makes his return seem like a such logical step for all parties in this instance. How Lawton could suggest that it’s “mad” is completely beyond me.