Just six months ago, it was widely speculated that Pep Guardiola was Roman Abramovich’s first choice for the job, with Mourinho said to be heading to Old Trafford to replace Sir Alex Ferguson.
You only had to watch the fastidiously constructed touchline performance – and post-match interview – from Real Madrid’s manager as the Spanish side deposed of Manchester United in the Champions League to see where Mourinho was expecting to go.
Instead United chose David Moyes and Guardiola went to Bayern Munich.
The difference between now and nine years ago is back then success was stimulated by a mutual desire – from both the Portuguese and the west London club – to impress each other.
Mourinho, coming in after winning an impressive treble at Porto, was confident that he could repeat the trick with his new charges, famously decreeing in his opening news conference: “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.”
Abramovich, on the other hand, wanted to flex his financial muscle having taken over as owner the year previously.
Mourinho was his manager and he wanted him to succeed.
The Russian Oligarch spent in excess of £70m in transfer fees on players such as Tiago (£10m), Michael Essien (£24.4m), Didier Drogba (£24m), Mateja Kezman (£5.4m), and Porto pair Ricardo Carvalho (£19.8m) and Paulo Ferreira (£13.3m) in that first transfer window.
Yet this time around, a tentative peace has been brokered between the pair, who frankly have few other options.
The situation mirrors a reunion more akin to the world of music, where frequently we see bands patching up their differences for a series of lucrative concerts: Stone Roses, The Libertines, The Rolling Stones… the list goes on.
It’s a move for the fans: Mourinho back to Chelsea creates the same amount of nostalgia as Jagger’s hips gyrating to ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ at the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
On Monday, Mourinho told Chelsea TV: “Now I promise exactly the same things I promised in 2004, but with the difference we have now, which is I am one of you.”
With the 50-year-old now proclaiming to be one of the supporters, cracks are likely to appear not too far down the line.
Mourinho predecessor at Chelsea, Rafael Benítez, was able to make decisions – crucial ones, too – based on fact due to him having no emotional connection with the club.
The gradual phasing out of John Terry and the increasing influence of David Luiz in place of the Chelsea skipper is one such example.
However, this move is one of many that has taken years to come about – not to mention the seven different managers.
Ever since Mourinho left, each appointment has struggled to be bold enough to get rid of the so-called ‘old guard’ axis of Frank Lampard, Drogba and Terry, who flourished under the Special One.
With Mourinho back at the helm, it seems unlikely he will continue the clear-out just yet, especially when they have been so vocal in trying to get him back to Stamford Bridge. He even called them the “soul” of the club in his interview on Monday.
To use a film analogy: when has there has there ever been a good film sequel?
Each and nearly every one (bar Godfather II, perhaps…) uses the same jokes, pulls on the same heartstrings and more often than not leaves audiences disappointed.
Mourinho, by claiming to be one of the fans, is looking for a different slant this time around but inevitably the ending will be the same.
One thing is certain: Abramovich, if anything, has become more ruthless in his approach to running the club.
With Chelsea managing to procure yet another European trophy last season, that shows no signs of abating.
But Mourinho is already calling for stability when the subject of the club’s younger players was broached, he said: “They need stability, stability I hope I can give them.”
This is intriguing when you think of his comments in the past about managers who call for time to succeed.
Mourinho’s arrival back in the Premier League will undoubtedly add some stardust to next season – a new era somewhat in wake of Ferguson’s departure.
And maybe, for a while at least, Mourinho will continue where he left off with Chelsea.
But you can be sure that he will be out the door should he fail to reach Roman’s lofty expectations.
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