Butler: Chelsea hoping to rekindle magic with Mourinho

Noel Butler,
6/7/2013 9:08:52 PM
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When you're as wealthy as Roman Abramovich it's not uncommon to splash the cash and treat yourself when say 40th birthdays and significant anniversaries appear on the horizon.

In June 2003 Abramovich secured a majority stake in Chelsea. We now know what he got himself to celebrate 10-years at Stamford Bridge: A return engagement from manager Jose Mourinho. A “Special 1 Mark 2,” if you will.

Estimated show room price on the four-year lease? A rather cool 40 million pounds ($63 million Canadian).

Chelsea released a statement just before noon on Monday confirming Mourinho was returning to the Stamford Bridge fold.

The Blues did not simply issue a statement inviting the media to attend a press conference. Instead, their 11-word-long statement doubled up as an invitation to apply for accreditation to attend June 10th's unveiling.

An unveiling which will be staged in one of the more luxurious corporate suites that litter Stamford Bridge - where there's likely not going to be a dry eye in the house - for what is sure to be the most entertaining press conference of the off season.

If the events around Stamford Bridge on Monday afternoon were anything to go by - where even CNN pitched up with a cameraman and a reporter following the news Mourinho was officially back in town – the unveiling will most certainly draw a record standing-room-only crowd.

Say what you like about Mourinho or his methods but there's no player in world football who charms and strokes the ego in equal measures as the 50-year-old who has taken the old adage ‘all publicity, is good publicity' to levels not previously imaginable.

Let there be no doubt the media who cover the Barclays Premier League up and down the country have not ever properly recovered from Mourinho's shock Chelsea departure just a month into the 2007-08 season.

Things had not got off to the best of starts in a season that ultimately culminated in Chelsea's first appearance in a Champions League Final.

However, Mourinho's firing was not down to a lack of success or silverware.

The previous season Chelsea had finished in the runners up position after securing back-to-back BPL titles in Mourinho's first two seasons.

The seeds were sown the previous summer when in July 2006 Chelsea announced the signing of Andriy Shevchenko from AC Milan when it was younger, hungrier players Mourinho was looking to bring in. The Special One was looking to build on retaining the title in a season that included a Champions League Round-of-16 exit at the hands of a majestic Barcelona.

Then the ominous shadow of Avram Grant pitched up as Chelsea's Director of Football exactly a year later in July 2007.

Grant knew Abramovich from his days as manager of the nation hosting this spring's UEFA Under-21 Finals; Israel.

Those who know Grant and those that know Mourinho knew the appointment meant one thing: Stamford Bridge wasn't big enough for both of them.

Abramovich had no designs like last fall when Roberto Di Matteo was let go and an outsider was appointed as interim head coach.

He already had his guy. One who had spent the previous two months soaking up Mourinho and his training methods, building key player relationships as he went.

Grant eventually took that side of Mourinho's to Moscow, the site of the 2008 Champions League Final.

Beaten by Manchester United who had pipped Chelsea to the BPL title on the final day of the season shortly after the Moscow meltdown, Grant became the first of seven managers who have come and gone in the five-plus seasons Mourinho has been away.

In late February of 2012 Mourinho used the smokescreen of an England friendly to tip off the media he would be arriving into London on the eve of what was a crucial Euro 2012 warm up match against Holland at Wembley.

Mourinho wasn't letting the media know he was attending Wembley. He had far better things to be doing whilst in London like going house hunting a mere stone's throw away from Stamford Bridge.

The England theme revisited itself this past Saturday.

The England players were likely going through their final paces at the Maracana, the venue of next summer's World Cup final, on Saturday ahead of their friendly against Brazil when Mourinho let a Spanish TV show know he was travelling to London on Monday and that by the end of the week he would be appointed Chelsea's manager.

Those critical of Mourinho's appointment point to his so-called ‘spotty' record in his three seasons with Real Madrid at the Santiago Barnebeau and they back their theory up with ‘it's never the same the second time round'.

Yes, in the history of the BPL and its predecessor the English First Division there is a laundry list of managers who have had matters end in tears when they return to the scene of their greatest managerial accomplishments.

Prime examples are Kevin Keegan at Newcastle, Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool and Howard Kendall at Everton.

What they had in common was that the game had moved on from them and their styles of management.

Mourinho devours styles and systems for breakfast and for good measure senior club executives for dessert.

It was Mourinho that likely had the greatest influence in the U-Turn performed so embarrassingly by the Chelsea hierarchy towards the end of last season.

They finally saw sense in re-signing a player who sits atop the club's all-time BPL scoring chart, Frank Lampard, who received his final Chelsea contract after receiving the backing and praise of the incoming gaffer.

Whether or not Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes managed to get Abramovich to vastly overpay in the same manner Sir Alex Ferguson did when he had nothing but fluttering eyelids for Bébé‎ only time will tell.

We won't though have long to find out. Chelsea's pre-season training camp is set to get under way in just over three weeks.

The first match under “Special 1 Mark 2” is less than six weeks, when Chelsea kick off their three-match Malaysian tour on July 17.

Before that is Monday's unveiling.

Bring some tissues.

You can reach and follow Noel Butler at:


Noel Butler

Noel Butler

Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on You can follow him on Twitter at and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.


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