The problem with the theory that after failing in Spain Jose Mourinho will struggle in his second spell in the Premier League is that the difficulties that defeated him at Real Madrid don’t exist at Chelsea.
Far from being a busted flush Mourinho has completed the managerial Royal Marine assault course that is coaching Madrid – he is now in better shape to succeed than ever.
Everything will seem easier.
Michael Emenalo is not Jorge Valdano. In his first season Mourinho had to go through Valdano, who certainly did not offer to step down, as technical director Emenalo reportedly has, for everything from wanting to communicate with the president to requesting a signing.
He won the battle to have him removed but the problem never completely went away because Valdano continued to be an influential figure in Spanish media.
Several Real Madrid players continued to have relationships with him. One media group who had benefited from having Valdano inside the club reacted to Mourinho’s considerable part in his sacking by stepping up a campaign against the coach.
Emenalo’s standing with the players and the media is not such that he provides anywhere near the same threat. Relationships with Abramovich confidants Marina Granovskaia and Eugene Tenenbaum will have to be well-handled but this is tip-toeing through the daisies compared with the political minefield at Madrid.
The dressing room will be easier too. There is neither an Iker Casillas nor a Cristiano Ronaldo at Stamford Bridge.
Maybe someone will emerge who will question Mourinho. But will he be the national treasure and captain of the country’s world and European champion football team? No.
Will, like Casillas, he have a media high-profile girlfriend who makes the claim that the dressing room is divided in an interview that went embarrassingly global? No. Or will the renegade be someone, like Ronaldo, who scores 50 goals a season? No, that neither.
Chelsea are a team of still-impressionable young players yet to become world beaters. This is not a group of already crowned world cup winners likely to tell their coach: “you wouldn’t know; you never played the game”, as Sergio Ramos famously did.
The media pressure will be less intense. Chelsea do not fill half the pages of the biggest selling paper in the country (Marca). Mourinho will be in the spotlight some days but only when Pellegrini, Rodgers, Moyes, Wenger and Martinez are being given a day-off. In Spain he was the target every day, with Barcelona the unreachable benchmark.
And therein lays the biggest weight off of his shoulders. It was all he could do to stop Barça winning the treble in his first season. In his second he wrestled the league from them but only at the expense of the Champions League. Winning will be easier without the obsessive demand to beat one particular team.
For those worried he will be devoid of enemies, the Champions League will soon reacquaint him with some old foes but his eye-poking antics have taught him where to draw the line.
He’ll behave himself because he knows his inability to do so over the last three years meant he was never considered for the two Manchester jobs.
He’ll be out to show both those clubs they were wrong to overlook him; and the doubters wrong to think his return would end in anything but trophies.