From Special to Happy One

Blue again -- Mourinho displays his new jersey
Blue again — Mourinho displays his new jersey

Jose Mourinho, returnee manager of Chelsea Football Club, says he is now the happy one because he is back to an environment that makes him happy

|  By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Jun. 24, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

WHEN he arrived in England six years ago, 44 year-old Jose Mourinho walked in with the swagger of an elephant slayer. He had every right to do so. His team had just won the Portuguese league and UEFA champions leagues two days earlier. At his first press conference as the Manager of Chelsea football club, he was asked if he had what was required to coach a team in England and he thundered: “I am the special one”.

That moniker stuck and the self -acclaimed ‘special one’ did not disappoint. In his first season at the helms of the London club, Mourinho won the English premier league and ended Chelsea’s 50 years’ hunt for a first major trophy. He repeated the feat 12 months later and by the time he left the club unceremoniously in September 2007, he had won the FA Cup and two League Cups. Even though the Champion’s league trophy eluded him, Mourinho took his Chelsea side twice to the semi-finals in his three-year reign at the club.

Departing Stamford Bridge in 2007, Mourinho took his wining magic to Inter Milan in Italy. There, he won the Italian Searie A, Italian Cup and lifted the champions league for the second time in his managerial career. His success in England and Italy earned him a place at Real Madrid- which is arguably the biggest football club in the world. But Mourinho’s reign at Real Madrid was not as spectacular as in his previous clubs. Even though he won every available domestic trophy and ended Barcelona’s dominance in the Spanish league, many consider him a failure for failing to deliver the champion’s league – a trophy the club desperately craves for. His fallout with senior players such as Iker Casilas, Sergio Ramos and Lima Pepe also put him in the bad book of many Madrid fans.

His frist triumph
His frist triumph

As his relationship with the players and the Spanish media continued to deteriorate, the usually ebullient Mourinho became a sulky figure. And on April 24, when he was knocked out by Borussia Dortmund in a semi final of the champions’ league for a consecutive season, he expressed his desire to leave the club and return to a place where he is loved. “I know in England I am loved. I know I am loved by some clubs, especially one.”

That one club was Chelsea- the team he left six years ago. Mourinho’s desire to return to the club was palpable and it was only a matter of time before it became a reality. Like the man himself, Chelsea fans also could not hide their desire to have a reunion with the special one. On match days, they sent a clear ‘bring back the special one’ message to the club’s hierarchy by hoisting flags with Mourinho’s image and singing his name aloud. The team has had seven managers after his acrimonious departure, but none of them was loved like Mourinho. Roberto Di Matteo delivered the champion’s league trophy against all odds, but he was far from the being the special one. In November 2012, when Di Matteo was fired and the Roman Abramovich decided to hire Rafael Benitez as interim manager, Chelsea fans could not hide their displeasure. They booed Benitez at every opportunity and called for the return of Jose Mourinho – the special one.

Benitez was finally relieved of his duties at the end of the season after guiding Chelsea to Europa league glory and securing a champions league slot for next season. The vacuum paved way for the inevitable return of Mourinho.

And on June 3rd, Chelsea announced that Mourinho had signed a four-year contract with the club and will replace Rafael Benitez. Ron Gourlay, chief executive of Chelsea, said: “He was and remains a hugely popular figure at the club and everyone here looks forward to working with him again. 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.”

Fans displaying Mourinho banners
Fans displaying Mourinho banners

In his first press conference on his second coming on June 10, Mourinho told the more than 250 journalists present that he would prefer to be called the ‘happy one’ because he is finally where he wants to be. He added that his adventure across Europe in the last five years has made him a calmer and better coach. “Time flies. A lot of things happened in my professional life in the last nine years, but I have the same nature, I am the same person, I have the same heart, I have the same kind of emotions related to my passion for football and my job, but I am a different person at this moment. If I have to describe myself, I would describe myself as a very happy person because it’s the first time I arrive in a club where I already love the club.”

A lot has changed since Mourinho left Chelsea. Although he will be reunited with players such as Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Peter Cech, John Terry and some others who made his first stint successful, he will have a truck load of troubles to deal with this time. His first task will be getting the best out of an aging squad and dealing with players like John Terry who was sidelined for a better part of last season through injury.

Chelsea fans are also worried about what Mourinho will do with Fernando Torres who has done little to justify the 50 million pounds doled out to capture him from Liverpool. Gerald Obi, a Chelsea fan says Mourinho must find a way to get the best out of Torres or sell him if he wants to win with the new Chelsea team. “We have a young and talented team right now. Our only problem is getting the best out of Torres. If Mourinho wants to win anything this new season, he should find a way of getting the best from Torres or replace him with a better striker”.

Another Chelsea fan posited that despite the fact that Mourinho remains a good coach, he will find it difficult to repeat the success of his first coming because the premier league has changed. “The league is different from what it was when he won it. Teams like Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool, Arsenal have improved and he won’t find it easy. I don’t see him winning the league in his first season like he did in 2004.”

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