It was the second coming; the return of not just the special one but, for some Chelsea fans at least, the only one.
Jose Mourinho’s second inauguration as the Blues' manager may not have sparked the same immortal sound-bites as his first, but it did prompt considerable excitement from the Stamford Bridge faithful.
Here was the wanted man, after a season of unwanted ones – Roberto Di Matteo unwanted by the owner and Rafael Benitez by the fans.
And yet following Mourinho’s appointment last month, news began to spread that another former Chelsea manager was set to move. And while it took some time and plenty of negotiation, Carlo Ancelotti eventually left PSG to take up the recently-vacated seat at Real Madrid.
Some will argue the Italian only had eyes for the Bernabeu. And that Mourinho had long been earmarked for a return to the club at which he went from bright new thing to something altogether bigger.
But while Ancelotti was winning Ligue 1 with PSG, Mourinho was ending a three-year reign at Madrid that saw just one La Liga title and one Copa del Rey; a record not so much special as decidedly average.
Of course the presence of Barcelona cannot be ignored, and to win even a single league title in the face of arguably the world’s greatest team is quite an achievement. But Mourinho’s time in Spain was not the all-conquering success he had hoped it would be.
From habitually winning at least two trophies a season, suddenly he was lucky to get his hands on one.
And from winning 16 major trophies in just seven seasons at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, his time at Real was barren in comparison.
As his days at the Bernabeu ticked down, Mourinho drove a wedge through his team, exiling stalwarts – most notably Iker Casillas – and prompting controversy rather than celebration.
Chelsea fans may say he was unappreciated in Spain; that he has returned to his “home”. And yet as Ancelotti takes his place at the Bernabeu, are there any Blues fans who would have taken the Italian over the Portuguese?
Ancelotti’s second season at Stamford Bridge may have failed to live up to the expectations of the first – in which he oversaw a league and FA Cup double – and yet many would still feel he was dismissed too soon.
Who would have been better for Chelsea, the man they gave a second chance to, or the one they didn’t?
We will never know. And yet should Ancelotti inspire the consistent success that Mourinho failed to at Real, and should Chelsea struggle to repeat their new boss’s halcyon days…well, it is a lot of ifs, but it would give a pretty categorical answer.
Would Chelsea fans have preferred Ancelotti or is Mourinho the right man for the job?
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