There is nothing to stop him returning to London now. Real Madrid have washed their hands of Jose Mourinho, giving up their claim to a huge compensation package. Chelsea need a new manager, Mourinho needs to be loved and nature will duly take its course. But the restoration of the Special One should not be seen as the end of the process of recovery at Stamford Bridge. If Chelsea are to return to top of the table, they need to do more.
You know what they really need to do? They need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the club. Good old City. Chelsea provided them with an example, and not always a good one, of how to conduct themselves in their newly enriched circumstances. Now, thanks to the novel approach of their press office during the sacking of Roberto Mancini, City have returned the favour. Holism is the way forward.
The term has been widely mocked by the UK press and understandably so. The word ‘holistic’ makes you think of candles, pebbles and CDs of whale song. But while City’s phrasing might have been a little naïve, there’s nothing wrong with the sentiment. Why wouldn’t you want every aspect of your football club to be working towards the same end? To run a multi-million pound business as compartmentalised chaos is just reckless.
Chelsea’ Europa League victory last week showcased once again their extraordinary mental strength. For all that you can say about the Blues, and some people say some very mean things indeed, you cannot question their indefatigability. They never seem to know when they’re beaten, even when they’re having their pants pulled down by a rampant Benfica team. They don’t panic, they don’t buckle, they don’t falter. They just breathe deeply and return fire. Mourinho created that mentality, he instilled it in the key players and they’ve carried it forward, demanding it from their new team-mates. That extraordinary spirit won Chelsea the Champions League in 2012, but if the Blues are to dominate European football, they need more to their game than resolve. The club needs a holistic approach.
Without a holistic approach, Chelsea have squandered their financial advantage. They’ve spent millions on talented teenagers, snapping up 15 year olds for seven figure sums. But the knowledge that second place is a sackable offence has kept any manager from taking a chance on youth. Those expensively recruited children have been left to stagnate, farmed out to the lower leagues before being released into the void. Almost ten years after Roman Abramovich’s dysfunctional rule began, the only youth team products in the first team squad are Ryan Bertrand and… erm… John Terry.
Without a holistic approach, Chelsea respond to every setback by sacking the manager and spending even more money buying his successor new players. It is Abramovich’s money to waste, but there are cheaper ways of entertaining yourself in London. Since Mourinho left, they’ve won just a single league title. Imagine what they might have achieved with any kind of continuity.
It’s one thing to lure Mourinho back, but he has to be supported by the club. He has to be given time to rebuild the squad. If Michael Emenalo is to remain as Director of Football, he has to work in tandem with the coach, and not simply fortify his own position at Abramovich’s ear. Just for once, the nest of vipers in the boardroom need to unify and push the club forward, working together for the same aim.
A holistic Chelsea with Mourinho at the helm is a terrifying prospect. But somehow, you get the impression that very little will change at Stamford Bridge this summer.
Read more from the marvellous Iain Macintosh