Evaluating Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea.
One of the golden rules in football, and life in general, is that one should never go back to an old job or situation. Jose Mourinho has broken that rule, and returned to Stamford Bridge as Chelsea manager over the summer. He did so after an unsuccessful stint at Real Madrid, where he only managed one league title and one Spanish cup in three turbulent years. Not only was he bested by Barcelona on multiple occasions, he left with his reputation in taters after dressing room bust ups and fan revolts.
After leaving Real Madrid, Mourinho turned to the one club where he knows that he is still beloved – Chelsea Football Club. After all, he is the man who transformed this London team from nearly men into serial winners. He grabbed two Premier League titles, the Carling Cup and the FA Cup in his first stint in charge. While he could not win them the Champions League, it was not for a lack of effort and quality. His team were denied multiple times at the semi final stage, with luck playing its part in their demise on more than one occasion.
The cynics have suggested that Jose Mourinho is not as happy as he wants us to believe. They say that his true aim was to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. In fact, he was close to certain that he would be offered the job at the start of May. Instead, Ferguson and United chose David Moyes to be the next man at the helm, and Mourinho was left disappointed. One Spanish journalist claims that he was “crying and screaming” when he heard the news, pointing to David Moyes’ lack of trophies in comparison to his own vast collection of silverware.
Whatever the reasons for Mourinho returning to West London, it is time for him to transform another decent Chelsea team into champions. This time he finds a much younger squad at his disposal, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata, Andre Schurrle, and Marco van Ginkel not yet at their peaks. Some of the old guard still remain, in John Terry, Petr Cech, Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic, and Ashley Cole.
The biggest problem Mourinho faces is the lack of players at their prime. Aside from David Luiz, Ramires, and perhaps Juan Mata, everyone else is either past their best or a couple of years away from their best football. This will make his job tougher, and so will the extra competition he faces. His last stint at Chelsea coincided with a sharp decline from Arsenal and Manchester United, with minimal league threat from the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham or Manchester City.
There are now five or six teams who think they can win the title within the next two or three seasons. For Chelsea to rise above this crop of teams, Mourinho will have to develop a winning mentality among his young, flamboyant players. The likes of Hazard and Oscarare two of the most exciting young players in European football, but they must be taught how to grind out victories and out-fight the opposition. If Mourinho can instil those qualities in him, he will rise above the likes of United, City and Arsenal in the coming seasons.
However the next few years go for Mourinho at Chelsea, it is likely to be a very exciting ride.