Armchair Pundit

Why would Mourinho go back to Chelsea?

Alex Chick

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As of Tuesday lunchtime, the bookies' favourite to manage Chelsea next season is Jose Mourinho - for example, the massive, disembodied head of Ray Winstone would offer you odds of just 7/4 on the Special One returning to Stamford Bridge.

We all know why he is tipped to come back - he is a god at Stamford Bridge, he has dropped strong hints that he will leave Real Madrid for England in the summer, and he is apparently house-hunting in the capital.

He likes Chelsea, of course, and they love him. But it is not a move that makes sense, either for him or the club.

Let's look at it from the club's point of view.

It might not have made him popular, but Andre Villas-Boas was dead right when he said last week Chelsea's squad cannot hold a candle to Manchester City's.

The players who were the mainstay of Mourinho's side have declined, but their enduring influence makes change exceptionally difficult.

Is Mourinho the man to deliver that change? He built a near-unbreakable bond with players like Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba.

What happens when he is tasked with moving them on? For all his ruthless strategising, Mourinho is actually extremely loyal to those who serve him well.

At Chelsea he brought in players who excelled for him at Porto - Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and later Maniche. Carvalho went on to play for Mourinho at Real Madrid. He stands by the people he trusts.

When it comes to cutting ties with Chelsea's past, why would you bring back the leading figure from that past to do so?

It is also unclear why Mourinho would want to go back? What has he got to gain?

He has already won umpteen trophies with Chelsea - if he wins umpteen more (in a more competitive Premier League), so what? Boring. What's your next trick?

The only major pot missing is, of course, the Champions League. If he could win the big one with Chelsea, he would cement his reputation among the greatest managers ever.

But it  seems slim justification for retreading old ground - you might win the Champions League, an incredibly difficult competition to master even for the very best.

And right now, Chelsea are a long way from being the very best.

Mourinho built a great team, which has decayed since his departure. Would he really get the time and money required to restore Chelsea to greatness?

He and Roman Abramovich have reportedly mended their bridges since their acrimonious split in 2007. They might be best pals now, but how long will that last when football's most headstrong manager teams up again with one of its most impatient and impulsive owners?

AVB was given a three-year contract and a mandate for change, then lost his job within a year, mainly because the squad objected to him doing exactly what the owner asked of him.

What would make any manager - even Mourinho - believe he would get the time needed for root-and-branch reform at Stamford Bridge?

The first time around, Mourinho spent lavishly, boosted by some astute signings by the outgoing Claudio Ranieri (Petr Cech and Arjen Robben were both Ranieri buys).

In these days of Financial Fair Play, it is harder to justify a £200 million outlay on players. In any case, Abramovich does not have the same appetite for acquisition.

His plan was to buy a squad, then make the club able to support itself. Peter Kenyon promised Chelsea would be self-sufficient by 2009 - in January 2012 they posted a loss of £68m.

Abramovich never wanted to prop up a loss-making enterprise - why would he chuck more money into what looks increasingly like a financial black hole?

A far better fit for Mourinho appears to be Tottenham, who will probably be looking for a manager as soon as England get around to installing Harry Redknapp. If Mourinho wants to cement his legacy, how about winning Spurs their first league title since 1961?

It is no pipe dream. This is a club with a squad that is more talented, younger and easier to handle than Chelsea's.

Chairman Daniel Levy has been a little trigger-happy with his sackings (Martin Jol was particularly unlucky) but nothing to compare with Abramovich's requirement that you either win a major trophy in your first season or search for new employment.

We do not know a great deal about Tottenham's owners ENIC, other than their boss Joe Lewis is worth £2.8 billion - so money may well be available if ENIC think it will deliver a return.

Spurs are already close to mounting a serious title challenge - maybe three players away. Could a top-class striker, a centre-back and a younger goalkeeper push them over the top?

With Mourinho at the helm, they just might.

His arrival would galvanise the squad, persuade Luka Modric and Gareth Bale the team is serious about silverware, and persuade the owners to commit money to a transfer chest.

It is, in virtually every sense, a better situation than would await him in west London.

As far as Jose Mourinho is concerned, Chelsea should remain in the past. Tottenham Hotspur are the future.

Alex Chick - @alexchick81

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