Would a Mourinho return to Chelsea fraught with old memories and new problems be worth it?
They say you should never go back – to anything; to an ex-partner, to an old house or a previous job. Lewis Hamilton inadvertently went back to McLaren (to their pit-stop before rushing through to his new team) this past weekend and if rumours are to be believed, then Jose Mourinho will re-ignite his love of the English game and Chelsea by returning to Stamford Bridge this summer on a three-year-deal.
Since leaving by mutual consent in 2007 and following spells at Inter and now Real Madrid, Mourinho has never stopped looking back mournfully to the league he left behind.
It’s not helped that journalists can’t seem to avoid any press conference or interview by asking when he’ll be returning to England. Mourinho dusts off his usual script, filled with complimentary tones towards the English game, and trudges off back to thoughts concerning his current club.
Why would the Portuguese want to return to a club which is hardly alluring at present?
In the domestic league, Chelsea lie in third place and an insurmountable 19 points behind leaders Manchester United; they were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Swansea in the semi-finals; humiliated by being the first ever side to have won the Champions League and then be knocked out at the group stages the following year and a squad that has more problems than positives.
Previous managers (Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo) were all left hamstrung by the inclusion of the mis-firing £50m signing Fernando Torres in their squad; club stalwarts Frank Lampard and captain John Terry are nearing the end of their careers in which the former is expected to leave the club this summer. It remains to be seen whether Mourinho and the latter can repair the broken relationship that occurred towards the end of the Portuguese’s first reign at the Bridge, and the balance of youth and experience has not meshed into a cohesive unit as of yet, and the hierarchical tree to reach the elusive owner remains.
The thirst of wanting to participate in English football may mean Mourinho has to accept a fourth solution, if as expected, he leaves the Bernabeu in the summer.
Both Manchester clubs are not envisioned to have a change in manager despite pressure on City’s Roberto Mancini in a season where they have failed miserably to retain their Premier League crown.
Paris Saint German, the club bankrolled by the Qatari Investment Fund may look towards Mourinho as a replacement for current incumbent Ancelotti. But Mourinho hasn’t shown a great excitement to compete in the French league.
It’s a possibility that the time on the road in Italy and Spain, where he has endured a tempestuous time with the media and clashing with club fans in the latter, has mellowed Mourinho’s heart and made him long to return “home”.
But it’s important for Mourinho to push away any emotional thoughts and think clinically if he really wants to return to the Bridge.
Would a prospective second spell be just as good as the first?
Kevin Keegan would probably tell him otherwise. The former Newcastle coach’s second stint in charge of the Magpies in 2008 ended in disaster when he left citing differences with owner Mike Ashley and his inner circle.
Mourinho could find himself embroiled in something similar, as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich still has a trusted team surrounding him, including Michael Emenalo and a new chief executive, Ron Gourlay.
It is true that the relationship between Abramovich and Mourinho has been resolved since the latter’s departure, but would working again not flame up those old differences? Abramovich, like Mourinho’s last time in charge, wants to have a say in the direction the team moves, the style of football, players to come and go, as shown by his determination to sign Torres in 2011 and plunge him onto his subsequent managers.
Maybe Mourinho is being misjudged here. He won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup in his time at Chelsea. The Champions League proved out of range, and he has stated he would like to win one with an English team. But is that target worth it for him to go through all the possible stresses?
It remains to be seen where Mourinho’s next destination lies. The rumours certainly won’t stop, but if he does return to Chelsea and fails, then he’ll wonder whether he should have left his memories of the Blues consigned to his first management spell at the club.