Some 60 years after the coronation of a Britain’s rather regal “Special One”, there was a different style of coronation taking place down the river; Jose has reclaimed his crown.
While Roman Abramovich has provided the capital to help turn Chelsea into a force in world football it was Jose Mourinho who created the ethos and the spine which has changed the club from being underachievers into true shakers in the world game. If one were to consider Chelsea’s trophy cabinet, and it was a running joke amongst Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham fans that Stamford Bridge was not furnished with one, before Mourinho it was pretty sparse. Ted Drake had delivered the 1955 League Championship which was until the 2005 Premier League win was Chelsea’s domestic zenith, while Gianluca Vialli was the last manager to deliver a trophy some four years before. Therefore the deluge enjoyed under Mourinho was unprecedented in Chelsea’s history. Ultimately he taught them how to win, something which makes a manager stand out in the lore of any club.
Jose however does not need to prove that Chelsea can win. This latest step in his career is much more personal, for it is Mourinho who has to prove that he still has that renowned special quality. His Real Madrid venture has been a rather well publicised failure. His attempt to bring Barcelona down a peg endured fits and starts ranging from the 2011 La Liga win to this season’s comprehensive humiliation. Not only that, he failed to exorcise Real’s growing European Cup itch. Also for a man who was renowned for his man management failed in soothing the egos of Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillias and Pepe. An era which had been championed by Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid in house magazines AS and Marca and by Real’s fans as one of unfettered domination ended with a first defeat in 14 years to cross town rivals Atletico in the Copa Del Rey final. Ignominious and not necessarily special.
Mourinho will enjoy the unquestioned love of the fans at Stamford Bridge and dressing room loyalty from the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry et al. The atmosphere is conducive to victory as this Chelsea squad is one which with the correct guidance and additions can go onto make a mark in the annals of English and European football. In lieu of Fergie prowling the touchline Mou is without doubt the box office management attraction in the Premier League, a fact he will no doubt milk for all its worth. If ever there was a chance for Chelsea to move into this power vacuum then this was it. Yet the landscape has also changed in a disadvantageous fashion; Manchester City will no doubt smell blood as they seek to become the main power in English football, while one cannot imagine that Arsenal for all their financial rectitude will seek to pass this chance up. Tottenham too will provide another challenge. It also goes without saying that the European glory which eluded him first time round will be preying largely on Mourinho’s mind; while continued Premier League success is obvious, the manager will be under no illusions that Abramovich requires European success, craves it even.
It will certainly not be dull. Jose Mourinho embodies the qualities which every man no doubt wishes he had; swagger, looks, style, charisma and a degree of mystery. For his sake I hope that he has the qualities to make it second time around in one of Europe’s shakiest hot seats.