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Bridge return could leave Mourinho blue

TEAMtalk guest Frank Malley believes it could be the biggest mistake of Jose Mourinho's career if he returns to London to manage Chelsea.

Last Updated: 19/04/13 at 07:00 Post Comment

Jose Mourinho: Should not return to Chelsea

Jose Mourinho: Should not return to Chelsea

Jose Mourinho has a home in London. He shops in London. He is forever being photographed in London and his daughter is about to be educated in London. Jose loves London.

But it could be the biggest mistake of his career if he returns to the English capital to manage Chelsea.

Not a day goes by, it seems, without another story linking Mourinho to Stamford Bridge.

The latest has him reportedly paying a visit to Canillas, a Real Madrid satellite club where his son plays, to give a talk to the club coaches, after which he allegedly stated he would not be able to repeat the favour next year because he would not be at Real Madrid.

The same Spanish language website, futbol.as.com, also reported claims that Mourinho produced a photograph of Chelsea celebrating on an open-top bus and said: "I'll be up on that bus next season."

Fact or fantasy? You never can tell with Mourinho. Yet one thing is certain. While the latest transfer talk also links Malaga's Manuel Pellegrini with a possible move to Stamford Bridge to succeed interim manager Rafael Benitez, it is Mourinho who is the preferred choice of most Chelsea fans.

They should be careful what they wish for.

There was good reason why Mourinho and his coaching staff left Stamford Bridge with an £18million pay-off in September 2007. It was because the club was not big enough to accommodate the egos of the self-declared 'Special One' and owner Roman Abramovich.

What makes anyone believe anything is different now?

The chances are Mourinho would want to freeze out Fernando Torres, the £50m play-thing of Abramovich and a striker who has confounded the attempts of successive managers to rekindle his scoring talents.

The chances are he would look at Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard and see wonderfully talented individuals but not men who automatically conform to his preferred template of strength, style, stamina and steel.

The point is Mourinho would not walk into Stamford Bridge and smoothly turn the clock back in an instant to the days when he won back-to-back Premier League titles and threatened to end the dominance of Manchester United.

For a start there is another big player on the scene now in the shape of Manchester City. For another, the men who Mourinho was inextricably allied to last time no longer wield the same power.

Frank Lampard, it seems, is departing at the end of the season while the ageing John Terry, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech are on the slide.

Mourinho, given time and money, is a good enough coach to cope with all of that. Of course he is. The question is whether two arrogant, powerful men, who both live by the code that even when they are wrong they are right, can forget their differences and rub along together?

The short answer is Andriy Shevchenko.

You might remember him. He was the £30m Ukrainian who Abramovich liked and Mourinho did not. He was the striker Abramovich wanted to start every game and for whom Mourinho reserved an almost permanent spot on the bench.

The stand-off, plus the functional football for which Chelsea were known during that period, led to Mourinho's downfall.

Why would anything be different the second time around? Has Abramovich mellowed? Does he recognise now the nuances and the time required to build a footballing dynasty capable of consistent success?

Not, one suspects, if you asked the likes of Avram Grant, Carlo Ancelotti or Roberto Di Matteo or, come to think, any of the 10 managers who Abramovich has employed since he pitched up in west London in 2003.

Not that Abramovich will have any shortage of would-be takers when Benitez leaves at the end of the season, despite his trigger-happy reputation.

Pellegrini, no question, would bring an experienced eye, Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid an energetic personality. There has also been talk of former Chelsea favourite Gianfranco Zola and Everton's David Moyes, if the latter decides it is time to end his brilliant stewardship at Goodison.

Mourinho, however, should come to London to shop and to relax only. The old flame burns brighter in the imagination than in reality.

In other words, in football you should never go back.

By Frank Malley, PA Sport

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