Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

With Mourinho in Driving Seat, It Could Be the Mother of All Crashes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

With Mourinho in Driving Seat, It Could Be the Mother of All Crashes

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

AND so it begins, the summer of love. Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea yesterday if not with flowers in his hair, then certainly with the language of romance on his lips.

He is back, he says, at a club where he is adored, in a country where he is courted. He has returned, he implies, by popular demand: not simply to return the Premier League and Champions League trophies back into Chelsea's cabinet but in the process to sweep the whole world of English football from its feet.

He is, in short, doing us all a favour. Thanks, Jose! Welcome home! You big doe-eyed, phrasemaking, southern European dreamboat, you.

There is no doubt that Mourinho is a very astute man with a political mind as sharp and strategic as his football brain. Part sage, part spin doctor, he knows exactly how to pull strings and press buttons.

He understands that football is a pantomime, in which the best managers must be actors.

In this panto, Mourinho is Captain Jack Sparrow, all swagger, tantrums and eyeliner. It is, therefore, basically a duty to give the public a show: to pout and posture, to toss off bons mots, to animate press rooms and dog the hell out of anyone who crosses him. Not just to win trophies but also to be a hero -- or rather, an anti-hero.

The manner of his return to Chelsea shows that he has lost none of his stagecraft.

Seemingly on the strength of self-belief alone he has convinced at least a serious quarter of the world that this is all going to work out fine.

Which is a hell of a bet to make. Mourinho is going back, let's be clear, to a club from which he departed in highly acrimonious circumstances in 2007: where all the wonderful, six-trophy success, the incredible points tallies and goalscoring records that he delivered in his three years eventually ran aground on the rocky shallows of the club and their owner.

Mourinho may have changed -- a bit -- in the six years that he has been away. He says he is "much more mature with a different approach to things". And maybe so. But what about Chelsea? If anything, despite all the trophies accumulated by the succession of managers who have been keeping Mourinho's slippers warm, the club, modelled on their pathologically restless owner, are even more insane and dysfunctional than they were when he left. …

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