Jose Mourinho said that he was older and wiser, returning after six years away, but his new Chelsea team is likely to be far younger than what he left behind.
Throughout his career Mourinho has always been the greatest short-termist, an instant constructer and moulder of super-competitive sides wherever across Europe he worked. His relentless commitment to winning, and winning now, has meant that cultivating and developing young players has never been near the top of his list of priorities.
But, as Mourinho repeatedly insisted this afternoon, he has changed. “I am the same personality, the same nature, but a different perspective.”
And this new perspective, he said, would include special attention for the gifted young players Chelsea have bought since he left. Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole remain from his first tenure, but there is a new set of talent the club have spent heavily to recruit: Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, David Luiz, Oscar, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ramires and so on.
It is in their development that Mourinho sees his central task now. “Chelsea did very well to get these young boys with great potential, great ability and a great future, and I look forward to trying to improve them.”
“We have ambitions to add a couple of new players to improve the squad, but my biggest job at the moment is the round improvement of the boys. I have ambitions as a manager, and as a leader, to improve the boys. I’m more than happy to help them.”
“You see the profile of the squad, if you want the best education for players aged 22, 23, 24 and 25, they need that stability.”
While Luiz, Hazard, Mata and Oscar are obvious talents, there are two Belgian youngsters who spent last season on loan and whose future at Chelsea is less certain. But Mourinho strongly suggested that Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne would be part of his squad for the forthcoming season.
“They are the type of players Chelsea have invested a lot into in the past,” Mourinho said, “and it is my work to extract the best from those investments. Both of them are ready to come and by ready for my squad.”
Of course, those players who still have their medals from the first coming of Mourinho will be important resources, but he did insist that there would be no special favours for service already given.
“There are still a few boys from my time, and it is always good to go back and see these people who gave absolutely everything to me when I was here. But it’s important to tell you that there will be no privilege for them. They know my nature. They don’t have an advantage in relation to the other people.”
Although Mourinho famously fell out with the experienced Iker Casillas at Real Madrid, he worked very well with Javier Zanetti and Marco Materazzi at Internazionale. Cech, Lampard, Terry and Cole should have important roles to play in this second spell, but nor is this going to be a simple re-assembling of the old gang.