Sam Wallace on the return of Jose Mourinho: There will be laughs, trophies and blood at Chelsea
The 'Special One' will put Chelsea on the edge - for better or worse
It is a measure of the expectation that surrounds Jose Mourinho that even the press conference to introduce him as the Chelsea manager for the second time, scheduled for Monday, will be measured against the one that thrust him into the consciousness of English football nine years ago.
On that occasion he memorably declared himself "the Special One", a moniker that was immediately adopted by the British press, delighted that here was a man who was unafraid to give himself top billing. "Please do not call me arrogant because what I say is true," Mourinho said that day. "I'm European champion, I'm not one out of the bottle, I think I'm a special one."
At his best, when he chose to play the crowd with his instinctive understanding of what pricked the imagination of a British audience, Mourinho was plain funny. During his last spell as Chelsea manager he declared himself more afraid of avian bird flu - it was the topic du jour in 2007 - than being sacked by Roman Abramovich.
He described in detail his efforts to outwit the Metropolitan police when they came to seize his children's pet dog, a Yorkshire terrier called Leya, which had not been given the necessary vaccinations. It was passed over the fence in his Belgravia home to a sympathetic neighbour and spirited out the country, still, to our knowledge, a fugitive from British justice.
And then there were the trophies. He first arrived in Britain in 2004 when Arsenal were top dogs, so to speak, and Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United were going through a transitional stage. He returns with United back on top of the tree but with only one manager other than himself - Arsene Wenger - having won a Premier League title before.
In just about every press conference in those first two seasons in which he won back-to-back titles, Mourinho would tell us that it was not just about the hundreds of millions of pounds that Roman Abramovich was pouring into Chelsea. It was about the ability of the manager too. If we doubted him then, the struggles of the likes of Luiz Felipe Scolari and Andre Villas-Boas since then have proved his point.
Carlo Ancelotti won the double in 2010, the only Chelsea manager other than Mourinho to win the Premier League. Guus Hiddink won the FA Cup. Roberto Di Matteo won the Champions League and the FA Cup. Rafa Benitez won the Europa League. But none of them have come close to dominating English football for two seasons in the way that Mourinho did between 2004 and 2006.
No other manager, other than Sir Alex Ferguson has won consecutive titles. And since he left Chelsea in September 2007, Mourinho has won the league in Italy and Spain and added a second European Cup at Inter Milan to the one he won at Porto.
And yet, as ever with Mourinho, you can be sure that there will be blood. He will pick fights because that is what he does. He left the Real Madrid dressing room divided and embittered, as is obvious from Alvaro Arbeloa's outspoken criticism of his team-mates reported this morning in The Independent. Already the suggestion is that Mourinho wants Fernando Torres and David Luiz out the club, two players who have become very influential figures at Chelsea with the decline of the English contingent's dressing room influence.
Mourinho stirs conflict because it suits his endlessly restless approach to management. His desire to shake everyone up and allow no-one to linger in the comfort zone was an integral part of his success at Chelsea, as it was in the 26 years that Ferguson spent at United. But where Mourinho failed was that so often he lit the flame and could then not prevent it from engulfing the whole house.
The likes of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, the three No 10s upon whom Chelsea's attacking game is based are not the kind if players that one would immediately associate with Mourinho. Certainly his first Chelsea team was one of often breathtaking athleticism and power who could handle the physical battle first as well as blitz opposition.
There will have to be some measure of compromise between Mourinho and the Chelsea of 2013 that he now finds himself in charge of. When he arrived in 2004 it was a very different show. Abramovich had spent heavily - and not always wisely - in his first year and Mourinho's surefootedness in the transfer market was welcomed.
The Russian billionaire knows football better now. Whether Mourinho is in a better position to handle his demands is a very different story. He manages on the edge, and on the edge is where Chelsea will be - for better or for worse - for as long as he lasts second time around.
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