Why Chelsea should not appoint Mourinho
Published: 30.04.13 / Written by: David Gold
Every day Jose Mourinho moves closer to the Real Madrid exit door.
Nothing is official of course but the Portuguese seems set for the exit door at the Bernabeu sooner rather than later. And so with each day he moves closer to a potential return to Chelsea.
Yet Chelsea should think very carefully about appointing Mourinho. When Mourinho was at Chelsea, he was hugely successful of course, but it came at a monstrous price. He sullied the club’s name with his rants to the press, and he built up the reputations of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. His legacy is a divided club. One torn between the past and future. Mourinho created an incredible cult of personality at the club, revered as he is to this very day.
This is as much the problem as anything else. The cult of Mourinho needs to be abolished and fast. It expresses itself in the devotion the fans have towards his best disciples, Lampard, Drogba and of course Terry. Their slavish love for these figures is as blind as it is damaging. Football fans are notoriously tribal, but the Chelsea faithful have become attached to these figures because they are the club’s history. For a club with not much of a past or history of success, they are defined mostly by the recent past and what these players have done for them.
Sure, they have brought success with them but they have also made Chelsea into the arch enemy’s of football’s soul. Football is meant to be a game accessible to all – Chelsea started the inflation of the game’s finances with their relentless and extravagant spending on transfers and wages. They then adopted Mourinho and his anti-football tactics. This is a club whose big European rival of recent years is Barcelona. They were thrilled to knock them out back in 2005 in an exciting tie secured in the second leg at Stamford Bridge. But they clashed the year after, in 2006, and a certain Leo Messi came to dominate the game against them and rip the team to shreds. The fans booed Messi, Mourinho publicly attacked him afterwards. Declaring antipathy towards Messi is a surefire way to declare yourselves as opponents of the beautiful game.
But it was not just Messi of course, it was Barcelona. Chelsea were beaten by them in bitter circumstances in 2009 and then got their revenge in 2012 on the way to winning the trophy themselves. But they have become to Barcelona what the Joker is to Batman. Arch enemies. Opposites. And Barcelona better than anyone have epitomised the spirit of football with their wonderful attacking play and glorious football.
Do Chelsea go back to that? Do they want to bring back Mourinho, who has a strange obsession with Barcelona and a desire to destroy their way of playing? They shouldn’t. Roman Abramovich is known to want his team to emulate Barcelona – that’s why he so vigorously pursued Pep Guardiola.
So Chelsea fans should be careful what they wish for. Going for Mourinho would cast them as football’s enemy again and continue their role as the anti-Barcelona. Instead they should embrace Barcelona’s superior football philosophy. The problem is that Chelsea have built their identity on everything that is wrong with football and implacable opposition to Barcelona and total football. To go back to that would be a grave, grave error.