An exclusive excerpt from issue 05
José Mourinho’s Chelsea will win the 2014/15 Premier League title on Sunday with a win over Crystal Palace.
The addition to the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet will come as no surprise; Mourinho’s track record of success—from England to Italy to Spain, and back to England again—is one of the greatest in Europe. But this season, and this term with Chelsea, despite the inevitable champagne toasts and London parade in the weeks to come, was a bit different. In issue 05, Oliver Kay explores how Mourinho, armed with not only a transfer budget but grey hair and reading glasses, has been forced to adapt—and fight back—in his second marriage to Chelsea.
Read an excerpt below:
Antagonism and strife, internal and external, have followed the “special one” throughout his career. The return to Chelsea put him in another highly political environment, trying to satisfy Abramovich’s long list of demands: major success (Champions League and Premier League), attractive football, regeneration of an aging squad, and throughout it all, total respect, publicly and privately, for the Stamford Bridge hierarchy. The new structure (Michael Emenalo as technical director, Abramovich’s trusted aide Marina Granovskaia overseeing transfer and contract negotiations) would have to be respected in a way it was not when Avram Grant and Frank Arnesen offered input in Mourinho’s previous tenure. The demand was not just for trophies but to stay competitive while trying to lower the average age of the squad, phase out some of the old guard, and integrate many of the young attacking talents who had been signed by Emenalo over the previous few years.
Clearly, the approach that had served Mourinho so well would have to be modified. He had to change—not only for the sake of this second marriage with Chelsea but also perhaps for the sake of his long-term prospects in a sport where all-powerful managers and coaches are becoming a thing of the past.
The Mourinho who stood before us at Stamford Bridge in June 2013 still exuded self-belief, of course, but his stock was not as high as his glittering trophy collection had previously suggested. He obviously knew that Guardiola had been everyone’s first choice that year, including Chelsea’s. If turning 50 can prompt a man to contemplate his future with a different perspective, then for Mourinho, who had reached that milestone at a time of unprecedented rejection, that need for self-examination was clear. He needed to modify his approach, but without extinguishing the fire that rages within.