Whatever Roberto Di Matteo achieves at the Nou Camp tonight, he would surely not be amazed to read that the oligarch will put up £25m for the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge.
One valuable point about Di Matteo these last few extraordinary weeks has been his presence in the real world, something that could never be claimed on behalf of his predecessor, Andre Villas-Boas.
The results include some remarkable side-effects for both Chelsea and the interim manager. The club has been stabilised to the point where still highly effective players now know what they will be doing at game time and which set of tactics they will be following. For weather-beaten old pros like John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and, supremely, Didier Drogba, it must be close to a born-again experience.
For Di Matteo, the only reward he is realistically pursuing is a sharp upgrading of his personal portfolio.
Could he possibly be surprised that Roman Abramovich, having once been advised that Mourinho had taken on too much power and glory for himself, is now all but persuaded that he has no alternative but to go back to the Special One?
Not, surely, if he wants to build on his reputation for a shrewd appreciation of both his own situation and those of all around him.
What, after all, can the oligarch lose by such a move? There would be two huge and immediate pluses.
First, Abramovich would be saying that after all the years of hit-and-miss, all the accumulated evidence that he had failed to learn some of the fundamentals of organising a consistently successful football club, he had finally been touched by a sense of his own folly. Second, he would be re-investing in a man who is so very close to proving himself the most phenomenal winner in the history of the European game.
His defeat of Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Saturday has almost certainly delivered the Spanish title – and the extraordinary personal record of winning league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain. It also sharply lowered the odds on his winning the unique distinction of three European Cup triumphs with three separate clubs, as well as joining the late Bob Paisley on the all-time mark of three wins.
This is so much more than the streak of a genius in the art of self-aggrandisement. It is the irrefutable proof of someone utterly at home with the challenge of making a winning team in almost any circumstances
Before tomorrow's second leg with Bayern Munich, when a 1-0 win by Real would be enough, Mourinho can already boast the distinction of being one of only three managers to win the great prize of Europe with different clubs.
Any step beyond such a circle would be impressive – that it might come at the expense of Barcelona, probably the most lauded team in the history of club football, brings a touch of the surreal.
Yet with around £1bn already invested in his European Cup ambition, it is hard to imagine any down-to-earth advice which would send Abramovich in any direction but Mourinho's. Some say the move would involve too much lost pride but do you get to be one of the richest men in the world without recognising and learning from the worst of your mistakes? It is not likely.
For Abramovich, now the fever centres around the chances of Di Matteo moving beyond a magnificent, perhaps even transforming, holding operation and reaching out for the Champions League success which has always been at the heart of the owner's football ambition. It presents a dilemma guaranteed to remind any man that owning a substantial part of the world is never guaranteed to make it any less complicated. The best guess here is that Chelsea's unlikely run to glory will end at the Nou Camp tonight. However, there are other suspicions.
They include one that says Cristiano Ronaldo will be the driving force of Real's victory over Bayern at the Bernabeu and another that Jose Mourinho soon enough will have both La Liga and his third European title to underwrite the belief that football has never known such a man for all seasons and all places.
That Stamford Bridge will again figure on his itinerary seems to go beyond mere speculation. It is, after all, a rare piece of unfinished work for a man of apparently unlimited destiny.
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