It was hailed as the second-coming but, so far at least, Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea has only reinforced the mantra that you should never go back.
Perhaps that is harsh on the Portuguese, especially so early in the season, and yet the Blues’ 2-1 home defeat against FC Basle in the Champions League was just the latest wobble in a month full of them.
A 0-0 draw at Old Trafford is not to be sniffed at, and Mourinho will argue that he got his tactics spot on that day, even if Manchester United’s shooting boots were uncharacteristically wasteful. Similarly, a penalty shootout defeat against the reigning European champions in the Super Cup final is not exactly a disaster.
But since then Chelsea have lost against Everton and Basle, with their last victory coming exactly a month ago today.
That win against Aston Villa came with concerns of its own, Chelsea fortunate to come away with all three points. And while Mourinho dismissed reports of “crisis talks” during his press conference yesterday, one thing is clear: getting three points against Martin Jol's side is vital.
If Chelsea do not win against Fulham in today’s late kick-off, they will go into their next league match – away to Tottenham Hotspur – under immense pressure.
And while this is all hypothesis, failure to beat a resurgent Spurs could be not so much the straw that broke the camel’s back as the slip that forced the oligarch’s hand.
Of course this article could be redundant come this evening, should Chelsea rediscover their form and soundly beat their London rivals. And yet Mourinho can only live on his reputation and past achievements for so long; something he himself acknowledged yesterday.
He has already made the mistake of loaning Romelu Lukaku to Everton. And it is a mistake, regardless of what he or anyone else may say. The Belgian has the talent and the belief to be Chelsea’s frontman now, not just at some point in the future.
While Mourinho’s midfield is a selection box of delights, his front-line without the 20-year-old is a hodgepodge of former greats and one average alternative.
Fulham’s record at Stamford Bridge suggests today’s match should be easily navigated by the home side, with the Cottagers not having won there since 1979. But with four of the last five league meetings between them ending in draws, the Blues must ensure that does not become five in six.
If it does, both the man who came home this summer and the one who welcomed him back will have a lot of thinking to do.
Will Mourinho prove the doubters wrong...both this afternoon and in the long term?