Jose Mourinho may have been back at Chelsea for less than a year, but he has already stamped – or re-stamped – his mark on a club that in some ways will always be his.
The club may have won the Champions League under Roberto Di Matteo, but you sense that winning it with Mourinho at the helm would somehow be even more special. And following their quarter-final success over Paris Saint-Germain – and semi-final draw with Atletico Madrid – Blues fans may well see that happen.
There is still a very long way to go and two extremely tough sides to overcome, but Mourinho is well and truly back and Chelsea are a different proposition with the Portuguese on the touch-line.
Just how special Mourinho is has been highlighted by former Chelsea player Frank Leboeuf, who has been talking to Soccer AM about the manager and his impact on every player at the club, not just those who regularly form the starting XI.
In quotes later published by Football 365, the ex-French international said, “He has great character. I’ve seen many players who weren’t in the first XI loving Mourinho. And that’s the first time players on the bench don’t hate the coach.
“I love the showman. But what he does is protect the players as well. Between the two legs against Paris Saint-Germain everyone was talking in France about Mourinho, nobody talked about the players; there was no pressure on the players.”
Ultimately that paid off, just like so much Mourinho has done in his managerial career.
But to get past two from three of some of Spain’s best and the reigning European champions – that will take another level of managerial expertise altogether.