The career graph of Jose Mourinho has been one of steep rise and an unexpected fall.
The self-christened ‘Special One’ took over Real Madrid after a highly successful campaign at Inter Milan. He took Milan to a historic treble during the course of which they demolished the best of Europe including a memorable semi-final victory over the Catalan Giants in the Champions League. Before that Mourinho had done pretty much the same with Chelsea taking them to their first league win in 50 years and repeating the feat next season. Mourinho’s only disappointment at Chelsea was his inability to win the Champions League. In fact, it was his unexpected Champions League victory with Porto that brought him to Chelsea. So when Mourinho moved to the Bernabeu, starred from top to toe with victory medals and coveted cups they expected nothing less. But some would say, that at Madrid every manager faces these expectations.
After 3 years of his reign, Mourinho has returned to Chelsea; some would say as a different man. Is he still ‘the special one’? The Real Madrid adventure did not go as planned and some have termed his last season ‘a fiasco’ and it perhaps is considering they won neither the league nor the Champions League. Mourinho himself would call it a fiasco. There was more to it than trophies though. Mourinho is known as a motivator, as someone who pulls the team together, someone who has close relationships with his players, someone whose flamboyance is a way of distracting the media attention of his players and not to forget the astute tactician he is. All these aspects that define Mourinho were not at show in Madrid. He had public outbursts against his own players, there was an apparent threat to his authority from within the team. The media was not his friend anymore and perhaps he met, in Pep Guardiola, a challenging and superior tactician.
What can one expect from Mourinho at Chelsea then? It seems like there is not one but two Mourinhos on exhibition here. It is a question of which one turns up? The astute tactician, the personnel manager, the flamboyant one who was eccentric but lovable as seen at Inter Milan or the Mourinho we saw in the last season at Real Madrid? The 5 things I expect from Mourinho at Chelsea are thus split through the middle by this crisis. Here they are:
1. The Apple Of Their Eye
The last season saw Chelsea going through their worst crisis and typically they ended with a cup. However, there is no doubt about the fact that every Chelsea fan is head over heels that Rafael Benitez, ‘the interim one’, is out of the club. As a result of which, Mourinho’s past accomplishments will be valued even more and he will enjoy unquestioned support from within the club and from the Blues’ fans. The chemistry has already begun as Mourinho complemented his memorable ‘special one’ comment with an address to the fans: ‘I am not the special one anymore, I am one of you’. And as many media-persons are dubbing it, No Way Jose.
2. Single Focus
If Chelsea’s history with managers has anything to tell us than it is that the expectations are really high and the Champions League is on top of the list. Avram Grant, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Di Matteo all enjoyed reasonable success but ‘reasonable’ is a word unacceptable to Roman Abramovich. Mourinho has said ahead of his official unveiling as manager, “They need stability, stability I hope I can give them and between me, the owner and of course the club, we have no doubts about what we want to do and the approach we want to have.” The stability will come only with the big cups. The League and the Champions of Europe.
3. Mourinho is Boss
The last time Mourinho ended his stint with Chelsea, it was over a conflict with the Chelsea owner over funds and Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko. Though, it is said that the two parted by “mutual consent” (a term that has been much abused since) it is well know that it was a power tussle. Mourinho’s demands of complete power over his tactical decisions will never change and perhaps we will see Abramovich taking a step back. At least, to begin with.
4. Personnel Changes
Mourinho is bringing his own staff to Chelsea. The fitness coach, goalkeeping coach, the technical assistant move with Mourinho and he will inevitably make a mark of his own the face of the squad with the funds he receives. Chelsea have been a heavy spending club in recent years but Mourinho has insisted that he will bring change through work and not cash. This is of course not to say that some players from Madrid are bound to make a move. Initial speculations involve Luka Modric, Khedira and his Inter Milan architect Wesley Sneijder. Mourinho also has a task at his hand in making key Chelsea players stay. A few harsh decisions may also be expected.
In my personal view, success for Mourinho at Chelsea is inevitable. Whether it will be a a stint of some longevity as it is being seen in the media as of now is of suspicion to me. Mourinho’s character and his flamboyance seem in high contrast to the stability and success that David Moyes seems to offer to Manchester United. And perhaps that is why all that song and dance speculation about Mourinho’s eventual takeover from Alex Ferguson was never believable.