Jose Mourinho to Chelsea was widely known as the worst kept secret in football. For many months now, the rumours were rife that the special one would return home. And he did. When the news became official, many people reacted like this was the most obvious conclusion. Hidden in the appointment are a few busted myths and some to be busted. This should have been a surprise and there are some surprises in store. Go back to the days when this rumour hadn’t started. Of course, Chelsea fans have been wanting to ‘bring back Jose’ every time the Chelsea job became vacant. The general public, the neutrals, particularly the media just didn’t give too much chance for this to happen. And the reason is the bunch of myths which have been spectacularly busted by this historic appointment.
Myth #1: Jose and Roman are too egoistic to join again
Until the rumours had started, almost no one thought that a re-union would be possible. Jose is known to have a big ego. And Roman’s was bigger. That’s still quoted as the key reason for Jose’s departure in 2007. And a re-union was always seen as a display of weakness for both. From Roman’s point of view, it was seen as his admission that he was wrong to have interfered with Mourinho. From Mourinho’s point of view, it’s like going back to the employer that didn’t support you when it mattered. So there you are. When two massive egos and very strong personalities part ways, it’s hard for anyone to predict that would come together again.
People thought neither of these individuals are of the ‘eating humble pie’ types. The best part of the Jose Mourinho interview with Chelsea Tv was the story of how Roman and Jose decided to join hands again. Jose asked Roman ‘do you want me back’ and Roman asked Jose ‘do you want to come back’ and in a few minutes the deal was done. This just didn’t fit with the persona that’s been created for these two gentlemen.
Probably, they weren’t what the media made them to be. Both Jose and Roman are built up like totally narcissistic, dictatoral, ruthless and selfish. Probably, it’s a great expose of how the characters are built by the media for such personalities. When things such as ‘the return of Mourinho’ happens, all that image that was built until now comes down crashing. Yes, they are strong personalities but not to the narcissistic levels that the media wanted us to believe. What I gathered from the interview was two friends that have great respect for each other, learning from their past and wanting to come together. This was more than just a professional contract. This was some kind of re-bonding that the world didn’t see it coming. Myth busted.
Myth #2: Roman didn’t / doesn’t like Jose Mourinho’s style of football
Jose Mourinho hasn’t changed. Neither has his style of football. Actually, I don’t think Jose’s teams have a particular style of football. His football is very pragmatic. His football is certainly efficient. His football is based on winning. He alters his team’s approach based on the squad, their abilities, the opponent, the culture of the league and the context of the game. His football is all about versatility. Steve Clarke once said Jose’s Chelsea can play and win against a physical opponent and the next week they can play and win against an opponent that plays possession football. His teams always knew the way to win.
His football style came under a lot of criticism, especially in his third season at Chelsea. It was a popular media theory that Roman didn’t like the style of football Chelsea were playing. I don’t think so. I think he was perfectly bought in. Chelsea were the pioneers back then. We had to hit the road straightaway and had to start making heads turn. Jose delivered exactly that. It was tailored to the exact needs of the club. We have much evolved since then but quite clearly Chelsea got what they wanted. Always the style of football that’s played is the combination of the club’s philosophy and the quality of players in the squad. The manager is just the connecting link.
Jose Mourinho’s style of football hasn’t changed. It’s still pragamtic, efficient and winning football. And that wouldn’t change. If Roman thinks Jose Mourinho’s football style is hardcoded and if he wants a different style, he’s not going to hire him again. I don’t think Roman was ever unhappy with Jose’s style of football and he’s got him again now. Another myth busted.
Myth #3: Jose Mourinho is a short-term manager
Well this one is yet to be busted. Will be soon. This is again one of those double standards that people choose to apply just for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea FC. In the last 30 years in Real Madrid, out of the 30 appointments, only two managers have last three seasons – del Bosque and Jose Mourinho. This is long term in Real Madrid terms.
The average term of a first team manager in England is 16 months. That’s the state of football now. Chelsea have had 13 managers in the premier league era. Spurs have had 16 managers in this period. When it comes to the topic stability, who gets pilloried? Chelsea. Jose Mourinho has coached 5 clubs in 13 years (excluding the 3 month stint at Uniao de Leira) and that’s perfectly fine in modern football. Average of 3 years in a club is what most top managers do. Examples like Ferguson, Wenger and Moyes are just outliers. Capello has managed 8 teams in 22 years. Guus Hiddink has managed a dozen teams in 25 years and he doesn’t go with the ‘short-term’ tag. Ranieri has worked in 14 clubs in 26 years. Marcelo Lippi has managed a dozen teams in about 25 years. Yet none of these greats are tagged as ‘short-term’. But Mourinho gets seen differently, doesn’t he?
Mourinho’s emphasis on stability was great to hear. In his own words, he’s done the grand slam – league champion in England, Italy and Spain and of course in his home country Portugal too. He’s won champions league with two different teams and he’s in elite company with that record too. He’s running out of top challenges. Managing Bayern Munich is no challenge and I’ve been saying this since the beginning of the year and not after they clinched the treble. Jose has got nothing much to prove from a success point of view. He might want to take his career to a new dimension. He wants stability and so do Chelsea. Though I don’t think Jose Mourinho is a short term manager (that term needs to be defined), I think he will stay longer at Chelsea in this term and would surprise a lot of people and bust this myth too.
Myth #4: Managerial comebacks don’t work in football and this will end in tears
This one is also yet to be busted. That statement on managerial comeback is a poor generalisation. There are cases where it worked. There are cases where it didn’t. Success has several ingredients and the manager is only one of them. The players, the manager, the club administration and the environment bring you success. Let’s compare 2004 and 2013. Now, we have a better quality players than we had before. Now we have more matured and experienced manager than before. Now we have an owner that has a better understanding of how the football industry works. Now the environment (the situation with our rivals) is more conducive for success than before. You could say that the hunger in 2004 was much more than it is in 2013. That’s debatable because both Jose and Chelsea have always had the fire in their bellies, and past success has never diminished their hunger and desire. That’s why both Chelsea and Jose have continued to be successful even during their 6 year separation.
I think there are enough and more reasons to believe that this comeback will be a successful one. Of course, we are never going to be able to predict the future. And fot that very reason, no one should be able to say ‘this won’t work’, but many do. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, Jose Mourinho is a wounded animal now. He said he’s sorry he cannot start the season tomorrow. If you think he will let this comeback to be an unsuccessful one, you’re probably making a mistake.
In many ways, this new era in Chelsea could be a chance for redemption for all parties concerned. The club, the owner and the manager might want to ensure sustained success and earn some respect and admiration from the neutrals in the process. We should have more neutrals supporting us and more people following us as their second team. And we should get the respect that we deserve as a football club. I’m not the one to play to the gallery. I would always totally disregard the jealous, malicious and sinister voices but as Jose always claimed ‘Chelsea deserves more respect’.
And this is going to be very hard work when the media is still hanging on to their stereotypical myths based on hallucinated projections. The quashing of these myths will have to be much publicised – from the Chelsea side – by the fans and by the administration, in the online world and in the offline world. It’s quite important that the media does not stereotype Chelsea Football Club and that too a wrong stereotype that goes unchallenged by the Chelsea folks.
I can’t wait to see these myths shattered by another successful and, this time, longer Jose Mourinho reign at Chelsea FC. That’s it from me today. Keep the blue flag flying high!