Since letting the Special One slip away Chelsea have done alright. Better than alright, really.
Four FA Cups, a Premier League title, and that all-important Cup with the Big Ears have all been claimed. Those gleaming trophies might also have to budge up inside the cabinet to make room for an extra prize or two soon, if Rafa and his all-important CV have anything to do with it.
It’s hard to deny Chelsea have survived, even prospered, without Jose Mourinho.
Yet they still desperately need him back.
Didier Drogba claimed earlier this week that as a club Chelsea still “haven’t got over him” and that’s evidently true. Not the players, the fans, or the owner.
Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, and Roberto di Matteo have all come and gone with varying degrees of success. They’ve won things, signed top quality players, and played some nice stuff - yet nothing has felt the same as it did under Mourinho.
Like six interim managers in a row (now seven) the Special One’s successors have one by one presided over a group of talented players, producing largely positive results; without ever opening themselves up like he did. They haven’t laid themselves bare for Chelsea.
It’s largely been nice and controlled, but their hearts and personalities haven’t come close to leaving an imprint on the club. Not like his did anyway.
Maybe they weren’t allowed to? Maybe the players weren’t responsive? Maybe they didn’t have long enough? Maybe they weren’t the right type of men?
Whatever the reasons, Chelsea – despite doing better than alright - have endured a weird, five and a half year identity crisis. The warmth he brought has all but disappeared.
Jose Mourinho’s watch word is ‘family’.
Just like the man he’d love to take over from at Old Trafford, he makes players and fans feel like they belong, and in professional football that’s a special quality.
Players love to feel part of something. A tight, close knit, loving atmosphere provides the best conditions for any professional to produce their top form.
A good coach is one thing, but when you find a manager that presses the right buttons, makes you feel like his son, you want to run through minefields for him.
In this clinical, rich and ruthless modern era, players are still human and there’s no player in the world who would outright refuse to consider working with a man like Mourinho if he came knocking at the door.
Having splashed out on a £350,000 watch for Jose Mourinho last month it is clear Chelsea’s owner wants his boy back. Lavish gifts like that have to come with an ulterior motive, right?
With Pep Guardiola off the market, there’s nowhere else for Abramovich to go.
If double-winning Carlo Ancelotti was sacked for coming second within nine points of the champions, the bar is high. Barring the appointment of Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson, anything other than Mourinho would feel like another almighty gamble, and I suspect the Russian oligarch is done with rolling the dice.
Last season’s sixth-place finish 25 points behind Man City, and the current 22 point deficit behind Man United, proves just how much his latest risks have backfired.
Abramovich still has the financial muscle to rule English football again, but without the right spirit and personnel he knows it’s a long shot to usurp Manchester United and Manchester City.
The next Chelsea manager has to be Jose Mourinho.
Blues fans will love it, but it won’t be easy for the owner. However, he knows the only way to get a bad break-up out of your system if you haven’t moved on, is to give the relationship another try.
For Jose, the lure of the PSG project will be an obvious consideration, but could he resist Chelsea?
He would put his heart and soul into the club for a second time, and it’s impossible to believe he’s not the best person to close the cavernous gap that’s opened up between west London and Manchester.
Chelsea needs a leader, and they need to rediscover their glow.
Jose Mourinho needs a challenge, and he needs the Premier League.
A return to Stamford Bridge makes sense for all concerned.
Bet now on Jose Mourinho becoming the next Chelsea manager at odds of 2.0
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