There will have been few heavy hearts in the Spanish capital when Jose Mourinho’s exit was confirmed by Real Madrid last week. For in the past few months he has cut a frustrated, petulant and desperate figure to regular viewers of La Liga.
He has slammed officials, declined to take part in press conferences and alienated his players on a recurring basis throughout the course of a turbulent campaign. Their distain towards him has been obviously prominent in their showings both on and off the field. They meekly surrendered their La Liga crown and were well beaten in the Copa Del Rey and Champions League.
Despite such a poor season, Mourinho has remained characteristically defiant when talk turns to his performance as Madrid manager. He has made attempts to validate his own record, referring to Champions League semifinal appearances and Super Cup wins. And granted he has picked up a couple of trophies in his tenure at the Bernabeu, with the record points tally and subsequent title win the standout highlight back in 2012.
But this is Mourinho, and because of the stellar reputation he has built for himself, inflated expectation comes part and parcel. At Real Madrid, ultimately, he has failed to live up to them.
So as talk grows ahead of an increasingly likely return to Chelsea, it would be interesting to examine the mindset of one of the games most extroverted personalities. He is a wounded animal no doubt, and will feel he has something to prove after what he described as “the worst season of my career.”
In the same breath, he will not be coming in on a high. Just as he did when joining the club 2004 after winning the Champions league. In addition, the charismatic, charming and sharply dressed man that the English game fell in love with has seemingly been lost in his time in Madrid. When times have turned bad, Mourinho has represented a man lost atop a windy hill; dejected and alone.
Chelsea will certainly be in receipt of a very different manager this time around. But expectations will be just as heightened when he walks back through the door at Stamford Bridge.
After all, the fans are jubilant at the prospect of his return and who can blame them? Two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups make for some very happy memories. When all is said and done, Mourinho remains the club’s most successful manager of all time.
Not to mention the two Manchester sides, who have monopolized the top spots in the Premier League for the past couple of seasons, will also be starting out with new managers. Neither of whom have the experience of winning the very top prizes in European football.
So in many respects, it feels like the right time for Mourinho to return. But these accommodating circumstances could ultimately prove to be a hindrance for the “Special One”, as the pressure on him to succeed will once again be enormous.
Especially when you consider the success his predecessors have had. Roberto Di Matteo won the FA Cup and the Champions League, whereas the much maligned Rafael Benitez also lead Chelsea to European glory in the Europa League.
Remarkably, in spite of their respective conquests, neither manager was deemed good enough. Mourinho you suspect, as has been the case with all the Chelsea managers that have come and gone, will be held to the same standard.
Unless of course Roman Abramovich is willing to be a bit more slack with such an overwhelming fans favorite. And you suspect that if this fractured relationship to be repaired, there must be compromise on both sides. Abramovich must resist his impatient reflex and allow Mourinho to build another great Chelsea side. The Portuguese on the other hand, needs to surrender that he cannot always have things his own way a a club where Abramovich’s word reigns supreme.
Both men however, are used to getting exactly want. So compromise might not come easy. Especially if Mourinho, set to be on a reported weekly salary of £250,000, does not get off to a flyer, which could easily happen with a flurry of transfer activity to take place over the summer. If this proves to be the case, then Abramovich’s trigger finger could well be twitching sooner rather than later, even more so when you take into account their past battles.
The talk surrounding Mourinho’s return is that he is intent on building a dynasty at Chelsea. But looking at the evidence before us, is this really a feasible prospect? Mourinho is one of the most divisive figures in world football; controversy seemingly follows him wherever he goes.
As such, he has never been in a managerial role for more than four years. He is also walking into a club where managers are chopped and changed on an almost seasonal basis. These circumstances do not marry well if you are looking for some long-term stability.
There is also that old adage that managers should never go back. Mourinho, more than anyone, knows what he is letting himself in for at Chelsea. A prolonged spell of glory and triumph will see him emerge as one of the all time greats in the English game, but if he becomes a victim of Abramovich’s iron first for the second time, he could be made to look very silly indeed.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball