Jose Mourinho revels in Premier League spotlight amid Chelsea link
Jose Mourinho is revelling being back in the spotlight regardless of whether he re-joins Chelsea in the summer, writes Harry Kemble
Chelsea supporters will have been warmed through the latest cold snap by the rumours of Jose Mourinho’s potential return to Stamford Bridge.
Although the Portuguese coach was only invited by the Brazilian FA to enjoy the international friendly against Russia at Stamford Bridge, it has set tongues wagging again about a possible move back to his former club this summer.
The man himself played down his trip on Tuesday, telling Sky Sports: “There is a lot of talk but people need to understand that I can be in London very often. We have a house here and we love it here. Being in London is a very normal thing for us.”
The west Londoners have endured a torrid season, suffering embarrassment after a succession of public gaffes to leave the club’s image in tatters.
Rafael Benítez’s arrival, the well-documented training-ground slanging match between the players and the Spanish interim, even Eden Hazard’s fracas with a Swansea ball boy, has meant the end of the season can’t come quickly enough for Chelsea fans, especially if the Special One returns.
The Stamford Bridge hot seat becomes vacant again in May when Benítez’s short-term contract ends, and Mourinho is doing little to quell speculation linking him with the spot.
The Real Madrid manager is the bookmakers’ favourite to assume control of the London side, where he still has a house from his previous spell as Blues boss.
Only last weekend he hinted he could go back to “somewhere I’ve already been”, prompting many to predict a return to the Premier League, where he proved such a hit after arriving in 2004.
While Chelsea have entered unfamiliar territory this season in terms of their demeanour and performances on the pitch, Mourinho has suffered too in the Spanish capital.
His once blossoming relationship with Real Madrid has regressed dramatically since last season’s La Liga success.
Public spats with first Sergio Ramos, dropped hours before Real Madrid’s match against Manchester City, and then Iker Casillas, replaced by rookie Adan Garrido for the Malaga clash in early 2013, have rocked the Bernabeu to the core.
This, in turn, has damaged his relationship with the Spanish media, seemingly, beyond repair.
The dropping of Casillas – nicknamed Saint Iker in Spain – triggered the vast proportion of Spanish media to turn against Mourinho.
A fact he has begrudgingly realised, choosing to send out assistant coach Aitor Karanka to face the media at times. And without a platform from which to pontificate, Mourinho seems a lesser man.
Before, during and after Manchester United’s controversial loss to Real Madrid in February, Mourinho appeared to be auditioning for Sir Alex Ferguson’s position when the 71-year-old eventually retires from the game.
That night, Mourinho was back brimming with confidence as he manipulated the football world once more.
At 90 minutes, the Portuguese strode over to his Scottish adversary – who has 12 Premier League titles and is a double Champions League winner – looked him dead in the eye to apologise for Nani’s sending off that effectively ended the game as a contest before walking to the dressing room with stoppage time still to play.
Many that night initially felt it was the mutual level of respect that kept Mourinho’s emotions in check upon this confrontation.
But with hindsight, it is clear that Mourinho was revelling being back at the scene where he had announced himself to the world in 2003, when his little-known Porto side triumphed over Manchester United in the last-16 of the same competition.
The 50-year-old knew that if he exuded composure – a marked contrast to 10 years before with Porto – he would keep the focus on him once the dust had settled.
But for Mourinho to come back to west London, he would have to stand to toe-to-toe with a far more chastening character than Ferguson – Roman Abramovich, five years after spectacularly falling out with the Russian oligarch.
Whether he returns in May is still not known for sure. Even the man himself is unaware of where his next move is exactly.
For the time being, he is probably just happy to be back in the spotlight.