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Subdued Mourinho meditative on his Chelsea return


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José Mourinho's first press conference since his long-awaited return to Chelsea was, somewhat surprisingly, a relatively tempered affair.

After the furore that came with the self-declaration of his "Special One" tag in June 2004, the older, more mature Mourinho cut a pensive figure as he was interrogated by more than 250 journalists from around the globe.

Even his body language was different from the all-guns-blazing approach of yesteryear; he sat slumped back almost languidly in his chair exclaining "I am the Happy One". He would go on to describe himself as more emotionally-mature, calmer, and a degree more mellow than during his previous tenure in charge of the West London club.

Sedate, indeed.

Naturally, questions were fired in thick and fast with regards to his previous position at Real Madrid; much was made of his controversial reign at the Santiago Bernebeu which included a high-profile difference of opinion with Iker Casillas. Despite frequently claiming in this press conference that no player - or manager - is above the club, Mourinho settled the manner by benching the Spanish superstar.

With that came what will surely be acknowledged as implicit words of warning to Chelsea's 'old guard'. "There will be no privileges", Mourinho stated when discussing the opportunity of working again with the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech.

And, even then, Terry was singled-out by one member of the press, citing how he was left on the sidelines by Rafael Benitez. Managing not to take any cheap-shots at his former rival, Mourinho merely suggesting that Terry "could" again become a fixture in the side. If, therefore, Mourinho has been brought in to oversee the transition of this Chelsea side, emotional attachment will not be a factor.

His time in Spain certainly has made Mourinho a more deliberate speaker. Here, he takes time to consider the question before offering a thoughtful answer. He even took the time to converse in his native Portuguese, effortlessly switching between tongues as he translated himself for the benefit of all - claiming that Paulo Ferreira, the last of the Portuguese incumbent at the club, and his first signing in 2004, would definitely be moving on - before chatting with representatives of Latin American and Belgian media.

Few inclinations were offered as to the club's - and Mourinho's - transfer targets, but the Portuguese certainly made it clear that he and the board were singing from the same hymn-sheet. Stating that it was "normal" to try and target a couple of new players to improve the team, Mourinho suggested his primary goal is to work with the "young boys", namely the likes of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard.

Unlike in his previous carnation as Blues boss, funny moments were few and far between. A genuine laugh was raised when Mourinho quite honestly admitted he dislikes doing press conferences, but any bridge-burning was averted by the suggestion that the British media are "far from the worst". No clues needed in that one, José.

But whilst Mourinho - who, judging from his comments, made it quite clear in his own mind he wanted to leave Madrid as long as eight months ago - has moved on from what he would describe as a successful time in the Spanish capital, Barcelona remain obsessed in his every action.

The man mocked as "The Translator" in Catalonia has this weekend been accused of "damaging Spanish football" by Andrés Iniesta. Mourinho's answer showed that whilst his personality may have mellowed to a degree, but combative spark is far from extinguished:

"I damaged Spanish football by ending Barcelona's dominance. It was dominance without an end. But Madrid won the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, it won the Supercup against Barcelona, and it won the historical title of 100 points and 121 goals against Barcelona. It was a fantastic time at Madrid, at a big club. I wouldn't change it for anything".

I think it is relatively safe to say that in this war of words, Mourinho is the definite victor.

Yet despite a myriad of questions mentioning the term "stability", Mourinho was seemingly as far from fazed as can be. Asserting his position, the Portuguese acknowledged that he is ready to work alongside the board, who share a mutual ideology for the future with him.

And when questioned on his relationship with Roman Abramovich, Mourinho again failed to give little away: "it was a mutual decision [to leave], and a fair one. I respect the decision, because two years later, Chelsea won another title". José went on to say that his relationship with Abramovich never deteriorated - and maintained that the respect between the two, and the fact the agreement to move on in 2007 was one made in lieu of the club's best interests, was something that enabled him to make his dramatic return to the club in the first place.

Mourinho rarely takes few prisoners, but he is no longer of the same uncompromising ilk we saw nine years ago. In his words, "a lot has changed", and he himself is now a far more mature person. Mourinho believes he is reaching the peak of his career, noting that at the age of 50, he is still young for a manager. Perhaps, then, the best is yet to come?

Everything from this press conference seems to point towards the long-term; towards "stability". Mourinho has a four-year contract at Stamford Bridge and expressed quite clearly that in 2017, should the club want to extend that contract then he would be open to negotiation.

Indeed, that may well sound merry, but the reality is this is a manager who has failed to last longer than three whole campaigns at a single club. Yet Mourinho wants to be respected for what he has achieved in the past, and loved for what he may do in the future. That makes the Chelsea job the perfect match for someone who has moved on from being the typical Portuguese - an adventurer.

Mourinho quite firmly believes the future of this club is bright, with a mix of young players approaching their prime, and a host of experienced heads from whom they can learn valuable experience. Though he was unwilling to give too much away, he did acknowledge that young Belgian prospects Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne would be part of Chelsea's squad for next season.

The Special One ended on the note of comparison. Saying that he now walks into a Chelsea that is very different from the club that he entered in 2004, Mourinho's end-note was one of contribution and legacy, and before he swaggered out of the Stamford Bridge press hall, his face defined by a muted half-smile he barely even tried to contain, the Portuguese said "victory and silverware is nothing new in this club. It is now time for a different approach to try and win more".

Should he succeed in that approach, Mourinho will only continue to be adored in this part of the world.

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Great article. He looked better than he has done in a while but I think there was a realisation that he wasn't going to top that first press conference and there really wasn't a need to. He's also a decade or so older and (hopefully) wiser.

The main objective in these first pressers is DON'T GET FIRED! He did that and he was honest - until he's met the players (some for the first time) then it's unfair to comment and more importantly, it's disadvantageous. This was just a box-ticker. He's back, and it was great to see.

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Well written article ...
I wasnt really expecting fireworks ...

I believe this was a pretty intelligent approach for his first press conference and if you notice this was more Chelsea speaking than Jose expect for the Barca and Madrid comments ...

  • I m here to be for long as compared to last time .... Stability
  • It would be a new approach (attacking kind) unlike his traditional style ... Style of playing
  • Need to built a team from the resources on hand rather than spending lavishly ..... Try to be independent ..
  • I m indeed the happy one because right now in the premier league there is no one to oppose him (No Fergie, No Manchini, No Rafa) .... This was Jose all the way :)

He had mentioned in one of the documentary that ... For a top level Manager, you need to evolve as a manager to stay at the top ..... And i really hope that this is a matured Jose talking ... If so, then I m sure we are in safe hands and sure to be a powerhouse in the coming future ...

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Brilliant.Well written Sir Alex ^_^

Its really difficult to say concretely he is wiser and calmer, we'll truely know what approach he'll have to this second coming until the season starts.I hope he'll build a team and win titles by playing entertaining football just like in 2004.We have the players.

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It is well written and sum it all up the press conference, perfectly, sir. Well done.

Anyway, something bothered me a little bit in this thread. What's with all the cat pics? Might be there's some relation between Jose and a cat?



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