Finally: Jose Mourinho breaks silence on Chelsea comeback amid pressure on Mauricio Pochettino

Jose Mourinho’s remarks on a Chelsea comeback amid pressure on Mauricio Pochettino

Jose Mourinho is once more available to hire. The former Chelsea manager – of two occasions – has been sacked from his third job since 2018 having struggled in a third season yet again. It couldn’t have come at a more intriguing time.

The 60-year-old is coming off the back of what had been a largely cathartic two years in Rome, leading the club to a Europa League final, following it up with a Europa Conference League title as well as consolidating the club’s position as challengers for the top four. Although he failed to finish above sixth, there was a total vibe change in the Italian capital.

Mourinho gave new life to a club that has struggled to live up to its history since the mid-2010s. He brought in young players – something he had largely become infamous for failing to do elsewhere – and worked on a small budget. Tammy Abraham’s move in 2021 confirmed the link between Chelsea, their ex-head coach and Roma. Romelu Lukaku going there on loan for this season only enhanced it.

Now, Mourinho is out of work again. Critics will say that it’s harsh given his financial backing (or lack thereof) and that Roma are just five points off fourth place Fiorentia, but a run of one win in five games and contract uncertainty left his position untenable. Mourinho’s deal was due to end at the season’s conclusion regardless but now his time has been cut short.

The manager himself, a self-proclaimed ‘special one’ only to be widely regarded from then on as ‘the special one’, had been keen to work on through even tough times in this different project. “I want to continue at Roma,” he said just last month. He added, though, “And if I stay at Roma we’ve got to really think hard about the financial fair play limitations we have, because maybe it’s better to work with younger players and give them some chances.

“That could present an opportunity for development, compared to players who have nothing left to develop. I want to continue and I’m open to a new approach.”

He said similarly last year too. “I could’ve left in December [2022] and didn’t, this is my life, every day there is a game,” he said. “Sometimes it might seem as if we are struggling, but we are up there with all the others who are very strong.”

His exit coincides with a period of uncertainty at Chelsea, which is nothing new for Mourinho or for the club over the past 18 months. But the total lack of identity formed so far under the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital administration, mixed with the wider changes spanning years since Mourinho’s second departure in 2015, have left things unrecognisable.

It’s something that fans cannot ignore and the success of Mourinho in two spells – winning three league titles – is associately strongly with better times. Even since the acrimonious sacking eight years ago he has remained a favourite, only furthering this with comments made since.

Speaking last year he was asked about the future of Chelsea with Graham Potter coming under fire. “If you ask me do I have somebody that I would love to take over from ‘my Chelsea’ let’s say that, yes, but I have but I close my mouth,” he told Sky Sports.

“The club reached such a level that it doesn’t matter who it’s with but Chelsea will always be Chelsea. Chelsea will always be big and my house will always be 200 metres away from the stadium so I want to keep listening to the sound of happiness and success. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be like that.”

It’s not the only time he has spoken of the Blues lovingly, either. “Of course, my English connection is Chelsea, that’s the way I see things, as a Chelsea man after two periods of Chelsea and six years,” he said 12 months prior once more. He also praised the club while at Tottenham too.

“I’ve been at big, big clubs with very good conditions,” he said. “Chelsea, very good conditions, United the same, Madrid, the same, Inter the same.”

He was also asked over the summer about the possibility of a third stint at SW6. “I don’t talk to friends, comrades, journalists,” Mourinho replied. “If a few months ago our CEO [Pietro] Berardi said he was sure I would stay, that is his interpretation.

“If this time Mr. Zazzaroni [a journalist] said what he said is an interpretation of him, I’m not talking to anyone. The situation is clear, from a contractual point of view I still have one year on my contract.

“Football is football, sometimes contracts aren’t the most important thing. All good, all calm, the next one is always the most important game.”

In his own tongue-in-cheek way the former Spurs and Manchester United boss also passed comment on Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in 2021: “I don’t think it’s very difficult to coach at Chelsea because I was champion three times, Carlo Ancelotti was champion, Antonio Conte was champion.

“It cannot be very, very difficult because we won titles there. Chelsea always have great players and great squads and good coaches are happy to work with these clubs and with players who give you a very good opportunity to be successful and win titles.”

When appointed at Tottenham in 2019 he was more coy. Asked if he was considered as ‘Mr Chelsea’ to fans he replied: “No, I think they have to see me as Mr Inter, Mr Real Madrid, Mr Porto, I think they have to see me as Mr Club, which means that every club I go to as I used to say in a funny way, I arrive, I wear the pyjamas of the club and I even sleep with the pyjamas.”

He added: “I’m not Chelsea, I’m not Manchester United and I’m not Real Madrid, I’m not Inter. I am all of them and I give everything to all of them and that’s what I’m going to do here, give absolutely everything I have.”

Mourinho was also quizzed on saying that he loved Chelsea too much to manage Tottenham, answering, “That was before I was sacked! That’s modern football.” He finished: “I can be really happy here, make people happy and there’s not a bigger, let’s say fan than me in the world who wants Spurs to win and be successful. Maybe the same as me, but not more than me. So Chelsea is the past, a great past, two periods, two periods with titles. But it’s the past.”

For Mauricio Pochettino, things aren’t coming so easily, and that is part of a bigger malaise in the past two years. He is under fire with supporters having so far failed to take advantage of a promising squad stacked with talented players. However, whereas Chelsea managers in the past have been granted squads that have been there and done it, collected the medal and lifted the trophies, there is practically none of the same experience in the current group.

Although understands he is not under immediate pressure or in threat of losing his job, there is a disconnect between fans and the those in power. That won’t save him from matchgoers at Stamford Bridge in the long-run even if it does temper reaction somewhat to performances and results this season. But it does make the lure of Mourinho much harder to shake off.

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