Kevin Garside: This time around Jose Mourinho needs to win a lot more than just trophies at Chelsea
After 10 years, Abramovich wants his team to capture the imagination
Were Jose Mourinho to announce that he no longer ate sausage, the internet would be ablaze in a nanosecond: "Jose drops a banger." So we should not be surprised that a dismissive line about his affection for Chelsea over any other club might be cause for the recall of Parliament, especially when one of the institutions overlooked is Manchester United.
Jose has been back only a week and already he is controlling the agenda with jaunty asides that are presented casually, but are anything but. Of course you would not have taken the Manchester United job, Jose. The fact that you were not considered, or worse, that you were considered and overlooked, is not a detail that would ever disturb your conscience.
Interesting, too, that he should let us know how close he is to Sir Alex Ferguson. You would have to be special to be "trusted" with the biggest secret in football – that Ferguson would be leaving at the end of the season. The inference being, had he really wanted the United job, he would have pushed hard then. That he didn't is rolled out as evidence of his intention always to wait for Chelsea.
Pull the other one, Jose. In massaging the past in this way Mourinho exposes how ego is still driving his ship. It matters how he is perceived. Woe betide any should think him not good enough. Forget the shift from "special" to "happy" one. In his own mind at least Mourinho is still as special as it gets.
Mourinho's second coming contains way more risk than his first at Stamford Bridge. In 2004 we knew little of him beyond the obvious coaching attributes, though, after he slid along the touchline at Old Trafford, we sensed there might be drama. It is clear now that the sacrifice of his suit was an uncontainable expression of the "me" gene that governs all he does.
Mourinho clearly possesses attributes as a coach. His work at Porto is arguably his most impressive, given the achievement-to-resource ratio. That is not to understate his success at Internazionale, where his second Champions League win was a triumph of rigour and organisation over art. The semi-final victory against a Barcelona team in its first full flowering of tiki-taka beauty, remains, perhaps, his greatest work.
There was after that an inevitability that he would go to Real Madrid, to repeat the subjugation of what might be considered the greatest club side of all time. The move to Madrid should have been the apotheosis of his coaching career, where he would deliver that elusive 10th European Cup and, more importantly, cement his reputation as the coach with the solution to any problem.
He will argue that he succeeded by standing down Barça in La Liga. The title in his second season was sealed with a record total of goals and points. He also makes much of the three semi-final appearances in the Champions League after Real had failed to reach the quarter-final stage for the best part of a decade.
There were three trophies in total, but was that mastery enough? He was brought in to break not only Barça's stranglehold on silverware but on the hearts of the footballing world. In this he failed.
In the end the conversation was not about the football but personality and politics, deflecting but not ever concealing the truth that his counter-attacking vision did not inspire a generation and ultimately could not be sustained.
So he comes to Chelsea needing to reinvent himself in a sense. The messy, spiteful disintegration in his last year at Madrid tarnished the "special" label. He was wise to introduce the "happy" concept on his return to Stamford Bridge since this is a quiet acknowledgment that the ground has shifted.
Lest we forget, Mourinho's departure in 2007 was engineered to facilitate a coach who might bring the beautiful game to Chelsea as well as the European Cup. The summary dismissal of the man who brought the ultimate prize to Chelsea, however fortuitously, is proof that winning is not enough for Roman Abramovich.
The courtship of Guardiola suggests that, after 10 years at Stamford Bridge, Abramovich wants his team to capture the imagination as well as trophies.
This is Mourinho's challenge. We know he can win football matches, but can he make the heart beat faster? If the story continues to be about him, as his Fergie snippet suggests, you would have to question how much has changed. If nothing has, why should we believe that, three years from now, outcomes will be any different? Fergie might have gone but United remain and now he has Manchester City on his case. It won't be dull, that much we can say.
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
Latest in Sport
Mesut Ozil reveals he really is the Superman at Arsenal, Jack Wilshere is Batman and don't make Lukas Podolski angry - it's the Arsenal Christmas Party
Transfer news: Liverpool - January transfer targets
Missing out on Tottenham job was a 'close shave', says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
The most underrated players in the Premier League
Transfer news: Chelsea - January transfer targets
- 1 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- 5 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend