Will Chelsea's final league place this season have a bigger bearing than just what European competition they are in next year?
Jose Mourinho doesn’t seem like a man prone to rash decisions. When he acts, you sense that action has been considered, assessed and accepted as the right one for the occasion.
So when the common consensus is that he already knows where he will be managing next season, that he is simply biding his time for the big reveal, you tend to believe it.
As the current Real Madrid coach continues his riddle-filled dalliance with anyone possessing a microphone or a notebook, the rest of us wait for him to return to the seat he left in person but not in spirit back in 2007.
For Mourinho, you sense that the Stamford Bridge hot seat is one he feels he was ushered from prematurely, that he has unfinished business.
And so, despite the question marks over his relationship with Roman Abramovich, it makes sense that he would return.
It is a rumour with substance; and a great back-story for good measure.
But should the Portuguese manager really be planning a return to London, does it hinge not on a handshake with a Russian billionaire, but more on the outcome of the club’s final four games?
Currently occupying the last Champions League place, Chelsea have what Tottenham so desperately want. And while that want has previously been hampered by ability, this season Andre Villas-Boas’s current team are every bit as impressive as his former one.
One from three will be left disappointed. But that remains an equation impossible to solve.
Should Chelsea and Spurs both win their game-in-hand over third-placed Arsenal, it will be the Gunners scrambling for the European elite.
But should Chelsea fall short, they may be left not with the Special One but with someone a little more average.
The promise of the Champions League is a powerful thing. Whether the lack of it could prompt Mourinho to back-track is unknown. But its presence in a club’s fixture list is perhaps the most attractive point on a job description.
Of course he may just be having us all on. He may have no intention of returning to Chelsea or they may not want him.
Reports linking the club with a move for Manuel Pellegrini suggest as much.
But the simple fact is: a place in the top four will secure something that the great and the good of football management are forever drawn to.
Chelsea are an attractive proposition regardless. But to attract the very best you have to be among the very best; which means that a place in the top four may never have been more important.
Do Chelsea need to secure a Champions League place to secure the best man for the job?
image: © tpower1978