Back in 2004 when the self-proclaimed ‘special one’ first arrived at Stamford Bridge his confident and at time arrogant comments were a big part of his success.
The belief built in the Blues team that went on to win two league titles back to back under the Portuguese coach as well as the FA Cup in 2006/07 before he departed for Italy transferred from manager to players.
Flash-forward to the summer of 2013 and the re-appointed Blues boss, now the ‘happy one’ seemed to have lost some of his characteristic bark to his bite during a somewhat gruelling three years in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid. But are we to believe the happy one is happy to miss out on the Premier League title this term?
"We are not desperate to win the title. I keep saying the same,” he said.
"We want to build a team for the future, find a transition between the Chelsea of the last decade and Chelsea of the next decade.”
"But we will try to fight for the title until the end," he added.
The manager is hailed as one of world football’s greatest coaches – he has won the Champions League with two different clubs (Porto and Inter Milan) either side of his three years at Stamford Bridge as well as the seven league title in four different countries. His CV does indeed boast a very special manager but his modest approach to his ambitions this term seems somewhat out of character for those of us who remember his first stint in England. He is also a master of kidology.
Perhaps Mourinho is merely playing down the importance of Chelsea’s upcoming clash with the Premier League champions Manchester United this weekend at the Bridge. Sunday’s clash will be an important fixture but it cannot be denied the reigning champions have posed much less of a title threat this term under new manager David Moyes.
The boss may well just be playing cautiously with the media and for good reason – the Blues currently sit third in the table two points off leaders Arsenal and one point behind Manchester City.
Even a defeat to United won’t see Chelsea uprooted from their top four position with Liverpool four points behind in fourth. But, that being said, it cannot be denied a defeat could potentially see Chelsea five points behind Arsenal who face Fulham this weekend.
On one hand, it’s unusual for Mourinho to be the ‘modest one’ but on the other hand it will give the Chelsea faithful plenty of reason for optimism that Mourinho intends to stay for years to come and turn this Chelsea squad into title-winners for the next ten years, even if that doesn’t mean instant gratification come May.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald