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“Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one,” This was how Jose Mourinho started his first tenure at Chelsea in June of 2004. Now, he returns to where he is beloved and so desperately wanted for quite some time now, being every bit as special as he was when he left his legacy behind.
Ron Gourlay, Chelsea's Chief Executive made the official announcement as always, declaring: 'I am delighted to welcome Jose back to Chelsea. His continued success, drive and ambition made him the outstanding candidate. 'It is our aim to keep the club moving forward to achieve greater success in the future and Jose is our number one choice as we believe he is the right manager to do just that. He was and remains a hugely popular figure at the club and everyone here looks forward to working with him again.'
Interestingly though, this time around he comes to the Bridge on the back of three turbulent years at Real Madrid. The mixed farewell he received at the Santiago Bernabeu, during his last match as Los Blancos manager, reflected accurately his reign with the Spanish Giants. His achievements of a League Cup, a League title and making the semifinals of the Champions League three years in a row, were pretty admirable for any coach. But Mourinho isn’t just any coach and Real Madrid isn’t just any club. The expectations of the fans reached staggering proportions and pressure on the Portuguese was immense. Hence, his entry into west London is very contrasting to the one when he arrived from Porto, winning two consecutives leagues with them, a Portuguese Super Cup, a League cup, UEFA Cup and a Champions League. He didn’t receive a rousing farewell, as he did when he left any other club he managed, but he will most definitely given nothing short of the warmest welcome he has ever received anywhere in the world.
“Liverpool are a team that interests everyone and Chelsea does not interest me so much because it is a new project with lots of money invested in it. It's an uncertain project. It is interesting for a coach to have the money to hire quality players but you never know if a project like this will bring success.” - Jose Mourinho 2004.
Jose Mourinho did prefer to go to Liverpool over Chelsea, citing that the Blue project was pretty “uncertain” considering that they were new club in the picture, with a driven owner who had any amount of cash at the ready. With the position at Liverpool being filled by Rafael Benitez, Mourinho was appointed as the chief tactician taking over from Claudio Ranieri. He didn’t waste any time in forming the team his style by offloading as many as 24 players, most of which, including Hernan Crespo, Alex, Carlton Cole etc were sent away on loan. He made his own additions to the team, using the riches available to him, by signing up big names like Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Arjen Robben and Tiago. The team responded well to the new coach, winning the league with the most number of points (95) in the Premier League era, and the FA Cup too in Mourinho's first year incharge.
The Special One’s second year at the helm didn’t see as much market movement as he looked to consolidate the team he already had at hand which had just delivered him an impressive season. He, however, intended to improve some areas of the play by signing Maniche, Michael Essien, Lassana Diarra and Shaun Wright-Phillips. The team delivered him his second second consecutive league title and the Community Shield. However, they had disappointing outings in the League Cups and the Champions League.
The third season started with widespread speculation of whether this would be Mourinho’s last season at the club owing to the power struggle between the hierarchy at the Bridge. However, Mourinho came out saying that there wasn’t any reason to the speculation. The in form AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, piqued Mourinho and Abramovich’s interest resulting in signing the Ukrainian for a record fee of £30.8 million. He also signed Ashley Cole, Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel and Michael Ballack among others. The Blues, this time, were aiming high, hoping to win all the four trophies and better a treble. However, this was not to be, as Chelsea got knocked out of the Champions League on penalties at Anfield, losing to the eventual winners Liverpool. However, controversy stirred up as it always does with the Portuguese. The big signing of the summer wasn’t finding the form required to help Chelsea compete in Europe, hence forcing Mourinho to bench him and sometimes not include him in the squad. This seemed to cause a rift between the owner and the manager with Abramovich feeling his money was going down the drain. Amidst all the chaos, Chelsea won the Capital One cup and their first FA Cup under Mourinho at the first final in the New Wembley, with which they still share a bond, as they have lost only one match at the renovated stadium so far.
The rift seemed to widen with appointing of Avram Grant as the Director despite the objections from Mourinho. In September 2007, the board decided to part ways with the most successful manager in the history of the club, by ‘mutual consent’. Grant took over as coach and lead Chelsea to the finals of the Champions League where he oversaw a disappointing loss to Manchester United in cold Moscow.
That saw the end of the first chapter of the Mourinho era at Chelsea, no one expecting a second chapter to exist. Mourinho moved on to Inter Milan after taking a sabbatical in 2008, where he was successful again winning 5 trophies (2 league titles, 1 league cup, 1 super cup and a Champions League), in two years. Following this he moved to Real Madrid taking over from incoming Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini.
Mourinho recently expressed his desire to achieve longevity of the likes of that of Sir Alex Ferguson. Almost all Chelsea fans will want the Portuguese to fulfill his wish with the Blues and enjoy as much glory as Ferguson if not more.
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