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.