Chelsea still infatuated with Mourinho

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm •  Published: May 5, 2014
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LONDON (AP) — Jose Mourinho is perhaps the only manager who can complete a season at Chelsea without a trophy and not face any calls for his sacking or a fans' revolt.

What a difference to the way Rafa Benitez was treated — and the many managers before him. The Spaniard led Chelsea to the Europa League title last year — a competition sneered at in England but still a leading honor — and yet jeering supporters were still counting down the days until Mourinho would return to replace him. Yet it is Benitez, not his nemesis, ending this campaign with a trophy, having won the Italian Cup at Napoli.

It seems that little, though, can diminish Chelsea's infatuation with Mourinho, however dull the football has been at times this season, however antagonistic he has been toward referees, however much he has scolded his players in public.

Mourinho knows he can get away with it, for now, without facing backlash from owner Roman Abramovich and the fans who spent so long calling for the return of the self-styled "Special One," who won all three domestic trophies at least once during his 2004-07 reign.

Despite an acrimonious exit from Real Madrid after finishing last season without silverware, Mourinho points out how he rebuffed other employment opportunities to rekindle the Chelsea love affair.

"I had lots of chances to have easy fairytales, I decided not to have it," Mourinho said after Chelsea's realistic hopes of winning the Premier League ended on Sunday. "If I want to win leagues easily, I would choose another league. I would choose another club with another moment that in this moment Chelsea does not have. ... I chose with my heart every aspect the club I want, the club I love, a competition I like very much to play, a city where I like very much to live."

Mourinho's missive: Be grateful I returned.

Having exhausted so much energy during Mourinho's absence pleading "We want our Chelsea back," the fans can hardly complain that there will be no parade down King's Road this year. Abramovich, who acceded to the crowds' demands, has put away his axe after going through seven managers in the six years between Mourinho's reigns, and is giving the Portuguese the time to forge a new squad without instant silverware.

"Chelsea had a fantastic decade but that team, step by step, is disappearing," Mourinho told the BBC. "I came in a moment when there is a transitional moment of the big players of the last decade. Some are not here (anymore) and some are at a certain age, and the younger players are at the beginning of a process."

Captain John Terry, left back Ashley Cole, and midfielder Frank Lampard, whose contracts are expiring, were deeply emotional as the stalwarts left the pitch after Sunday's final home game of the season, a drab 0-0 draw with Norwich. Chelsea would need Manchester City and Liverpool to lose their two remaining games while winning its own season-ender at Cardiff to win the title.