It’s good to be back…” Natalie Cole crooned many years ago. This is the tune Jose Mourinho has been humming since making his return to Chelsea.
The move has been in the works for sometime especially given his not too cosy time at the Bernabeu. Of course, he as usual, fuelled the speculation by constantly dropping hints of his love for Chelsea and his desire to return someday.
That is no longer just a wish, it is now a done deal. Only on Monday Mourinho was unveiled to a battery of cameras with some 250 journalists in attendance and over 40 TV channels. Now how many managers in world football can attract such attention. No need to volunteer an answer, suffice to say that England had missed the special effect and razzmatazz that Jose brings.
And trust the English press, they’ll make up for lost time. The time in question was spent by the itinerant Portuguese in other climes raking up trophies, making friends and of course making enemies along the way.
Mourinho is a man who divides opinions ever so sharply. There are those who can’t put up with his brash arrogant ways, his tendency to shoot straight from the hips without as so much as pause to filter his thoughts before they assume a life of their own.
On the other side, even more staunch in their love, are those who just worship the man, ostensibly partly for the same reasons the former crucify him. Quirky! Many fans the world over simply follow the Portuguese wherever he goes. These fans are not particularly loyal to any club; where Mourinho goes they go.
But in all this one thing that can’t be denied is the passion Mourinho brings to the job, his unequalled ability to inspire players, attributes which have served him so well in his nomadic managerial career. These are the attributes which he is again expected to bring to Chelsea and once more galvanise the Blues army.
In his first incarnation, this was something the then Special One achieved with panache. He not only guided Chelsea to a first top-flight title success in his debut season in 2004-05, breaking a number of English football records in the process including a 95-point haul and just 15 goals conceded.
He added a second title the following term, and ended up with six pieces of silverware at his departure in September 2007. But can he better that feat?
“In football you never know but I want to believe it’s possible. I always trust my work. In this case I know many of the people at the club and the kind of mentality and ambition people have,” he said.
Although there are those, like former Chelsea player and manager Ruud Gullit, who ask: Why go back? You can also ask why not?
At 50 years of age, the man has the right to happiness and that was crucial in his decision to return to London and to love. He must have reasoned: ‘why stay in the midst of sourpusses when you can lap up love and adulation elsewhere’.
“I’m the happy one. Time flies. It looks like it was a couple of days ago but it was nine years ago and since then a lot of things have happened in my professional life… I describe myself as a very happy person and it is the first time I have arrived at a club where I am already loved,“ Mourinho said.
“Usually I arrive and have to build emotional relations and know how to love the club after some time there. This time is a new kind of feeling because this is the first time I am arriving to a club and I love it. I love it already.”
You can’t deny a man that. And of course there is the little matter of the Champions League. The Happy One as he now wishes to be known has never been one to run away from a challenge