Monday, 18 November 2013

In Jose we trust

It’s good to have Mourinho back

It’s only November – the season is still in its infancy; the jury very much out on everyone and everything. No matter how much pundits want to discuss player of the year or next summer’s World Cup squad, it’s simply too soon.  

And certainly it’s too early to judge the return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea. A man always keen to ostentatiously flaunt his silverware, it seems only fair to assess the Portuguese on his end of season trophy haul. Yet already, I’m delighted to see the man back at the Bridge.

I’m desperately trying to avoid that loathsome phrase “X-factor” here, but Mourinho just has something about him. One minute its broody stare, clipped sulky responses, petulance personified. Then suddenly it’s all suave charm, playful anecdotes and perfect stubble. Media hang onto Mourinho’s every word, and it’s easy to see why. He’s pure box office.

From a Chelsea viewpoint, Mourinho has returned the passion. There’s a spring in the players’ steps and a sense of real unity between staff and fans. Chelsea supporters are proud to have this man in charge. Proud of his previous success and delighted by the swagger and style. Mourinho is a man who makes you want to turn up and sing his name.

Whatever some people said, Rafael Benitez was simply not wanted last year – no one ordered a fat Spanish waiter Roman. Despite his moderate success (I maintain the moderate assertion – one cup and Champions League qualification was only par considering the squad available), it was always clear that Benitez was in it for himself, looking to add polish to his CV. He was certainly not concerned about the future of Chelsea football club. And quite simply, that didn’t make for a good atmosphere down in SW6.

Which means the Mourinho love-in is all the more welcome and enjoyable. And there’s inherent trust too. Loaning out Romelu Lukaku to Everton seems odd – but if Jose thinks that’s best, then so be it. Forking out on another creative midfielder (Willian) when we already have a stack of them – there must be a reason. The only one I really can’t understand is occasionally playing David Luiz ahead of the heroic Gary Cahill – but in my lovestruck delirium I’ll just turn a blind eye to that one.

What is certainly clear is that having the fans onside and right behind you does make a tangible difference. Us supporters might be marginalised at every turn in an increasingly corporate environment, but we still carry influence and that must be cherished. A willing, supportive, passionate crowd really can make an impact and there’s a new mood in the air at Stamford Bridge this year.

Time will tell whether this reunion is a quick fling ending in another ugly divorce, or a contented, long-term marriage. But at the moment it certainly does feel nice to have Jose back where he belongs.

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