As the new Premier League season kicks off this weekend with a whole host of new names and faces in the English top tier, there is one very familiar, very special presence that graces the stage once again.
Jose Mourinho remains Chelsea’s most successful manager to date – in his three-year spell in charge at Stamford Bridge, he managed to win two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups, before moving on to Inter Milan in 2008.
The self-styled special one returned to resounding rapturous applause from the Chelsea faithful following a frustrating and disenchanting season under Rafael Benitez who was undoubtedly their most unpopular appointment in Roman Abramovich’s decade at the Bridge.
Upon his return, the Portuguese boss re-named himself the ‘happy one’ after an unhappy ending to his spell in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid. Blues’ fans are undoubtedly the happiest campers in English football at present with the return of their prodigal son back to his home from home but does the special risk tainting his special legacy this time around?
There’s no doubt Chelsea will be genuine challengers for the title this year and they’ll certainly be looking to make waves in the Champions League and a cup win is likely going to be the minimum of expectations from the fans and the owner this term.
They haven’t spent with their usual audacity this summer – unlike title rivals Manchester City – but their experienced and cultured squad should surely be enough to see them challenge in an imposing fashion.
City’s near-£90 million outlay up at the Etihad and the arrival of new boss Manuel Pellegrini is surely going to be Mourinho’s biggest cause for concern this term but, despite the consensus view that David Moyes will likely struggle in his debut season in charge of United, they champions are not going to be pushed off their pedestal without a fight.
I would anticipate that Mourinho will have already ensured his squad is prepared for the new season – physically, mentally and he’ll have likely rejuvenated the morale, cohesion and unity that the Blues lacked last term under Benitez.
The fans will be right behind him, much like they were Roberto Di Matteo, and that energy and support is going to be crucial to their ambitions but what if he doesn’t win anything this season? What if he doesn’t win anything at all?
It seems unlikely and, at present, near-impossible that Jose Mourinho won’t win anything at Chelsea because that’s what we all expect but expectations are a strange thing – they have the tendency to invite unwanted pressure and build a sense of complacency. Mourinho is capable of winning every trophy on offer with Chelsea this term but if he doesn’t manage at least on piece of silverware, he risks tainting his legacy.