Welcome home, Jose – we should never have let you go

When it finally happened, Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea was no surprise.

But that didn’t stop a broad grin spreading across my face when I saw the pictures on television of him sitting next to the club badge. Welcome home, Jose.

I am as happy about this managerial appointment as I was unhappy about the previous one, and I know a lot of fans feel the same.

It may seem churlish to mention Rafael Benitez and his less than warm welcome yet again, but the contrast with the reception Mourinho will get means it is relevant.

When Benitez stepped on to the pitch before his first game in charge last year there were deafening boos. The reaction when Jose reappears in August will be so different.

Stamford Bridge was often an unhappy place last season. Many fans were unhappy with the choice of manager, others who disagreed or just felt less strongly were unhappy with those who couldn’t bring themselves to support him.

Abramovich has appointed the fans' choice.
Abramovich has appointed the fans’ choice.

Today the world of the Chelsea fan seems a more harmonious place and it is a great relief.

There are already different schools of thought on what led to the return of Chelsea’s most successful manager.

Some will feel it is a sign that Roman Abramovich actually did listen to the fans who opposed the choice of Benitez so vehemently, that he would have been so shaken by the strength of disquiet among the support and felt he had to listen to what the fans wanted this time.

Others will feel that is a fanciful idea, that it is laughable to suggest a man as powerful and dictatorial as Abramovich would listen to the views of the populous and that the choice must simply indicate that he knows Mourinho is a winner and so wants him as his manager again.

Either way, it represents a back-down of some kind or another from the club owner for him to reappoint a man he sacked in 2007.

Chelsea have been criticised and mocked for the rapid turnover of managers since that day. But the trophies have carried on coming – four of the seven men who have been in charge since Mourinho left have won a trophy, with six in total between them.

But it is hard to escape the belief that we would have won even more if Mourinho had stayed in charge.

I personally cannot imagine we would not have won more than one league title in six years if he had been manager throughout that period.

Not everyone will be glad he is back. I have a Chelsea-supporting friend who is disappointed with the choice, who thinks he is too outspoken and courts trouble too readily.

Rafael Benitez
Many fans could not accept Benitez.

Others will point to the fact he never stays anywhere long and raise a dubious eyebrow at the fact he’s been given a four-year contract.

They will expect a rancorous departure long before 2017 and if they pointed out the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge was sour towards the end of his first reign, they would be correct.

Other detractors would suggest the football we have played recently is better to watch than that which won the league twice under Mourinho.

That is debatable – those of us who watched Arjen Robben and Damien Duff flying down the wings and the skill of Joe Cole will remember moments of scintillating football.

Yes, he does like his teams to be more robust than Chelsea have been in the past few years – we conceded just 15 goals when we won the league in 2005, but 32 when we repeated the feat under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010 and 39 this season.

But it would be ridiculous to think he would look at the ability and skill of the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard and think he could not work with them or did not want them to be part of his team.

People say you should never go back. It hasn’t worked out well in the long-term for Kevin Keegan at Newcastle or Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool.

But Mourinho is a better manager than them and, for all the trauma of last season, Chelsea are in a far better state than either of those clubs were when those managers returned.

The timing of Jose’s return is good for him.

The two clubs that finished above Chelsea last season will also have new managers and the upheaval for Manchester United, changing manager for the first time in 26 years, will be far greater.

I will be very surprised if Chelsea do not win something next year. I have already put a bet on us winning the league.

But even if we do not, I still think Chelsea will be a far more enjoyable place to be a fan.

The days of not liking the manager will seem a distant memory for the vast majority of fans. We’ve now got a boss we can love and who loves us – it’s a far cry from trying to tolerate a man we know treats us with disdain.

Welcome home, Jose. I’ve missed you.


James Clarke is the author of Moody Blues: Following the second-best team in Europe

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