Jose Mourinho: Ron Gourlay reveals Chelsea want Special One to stay for next 10 years

The Portuguese coach is enjoying life during his second spell at Stamford Bridge

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The Independent Football

Chelsea want Jose Mourinho to lead them for the next 10 years. He signed a four year-deal when he returned last year for his second spell as manager.

But in an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard Chelsea’s chief executive, Ron Gourlay, says the club want the 51-year-old to stay for the next decade. That would put an end to the high turnover of managers – Mourinho is Roman Abramovich’s 10th appointment since buying the club in 2003.

Gourlay said: “I hope he will stay 10 years. Having the security of Jose is great for me – he knows the club, knows me. Jose can deal with the media in a different way from some of the other managers we’ve had. He takes the pressure not only away from the players but also from the club. He allows us to manage and me in particular to drive the club forward.”

Since succeeding Peter Kenyon five years ago this month, Gourlay has kept a low profile. However, as we meet at Chelsea’s health club – with Mourinho talking to his coaches just around the corner – Gourlay could not be more forthcoming.

“When I took over, we were under a little bit of pressure about our image,” he said. “Do they love Chelsea FC? Do they hate Chelsea FC? Now internationally, we are a more loved team. Our fan base has grown dramatically worldwide, from 26 million to just under 400m, second to Manchester United.

“If you go to a Chelsea game in Asia, you’ll see a lot of families, a lot between the ages of 19 and 32. We’ve worked extremely hard in communities in Asia where the kids didn’t have anywhere to play. We now have 13 blue pitches in Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, all operated and run by Chelsea coaches and all non-profitable.”

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Gourlay partly credits these Asian fans for the transformation in Mourinho. From the arrogant-sounding “Special One” during his first spell in 2004 when Uefa branded him “the enemy of football” he is, says Gourlay, “certainly the ‘Happy One’ now”.

“When Jose came back to the club, we went to Asia and it was an eye-opener for him. He hadn’t realised how much the fan base had changed. In Indonesia, we had to cancel open training the day before the match because the police couldn’t contain the numbers who had come to the 100,000-seater stadium.”

 

Mourinho was the club’s third manager in seven months with Roberto Di Matteo sacked in November 2012 to be replaced by Rafael Benitez, a move which angered the fans.

“We had to make the change,” says Gourlay. “We have to make decisions that are in the best long-term interests of the club. Around that period there weren’t many alternatives. But we knew what our plan was six months down the line. We had to look to the future.”

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