During a recent press conference, Sir Alex Ferguson said that he thought it ‘likely’ that Jose Mourinho would return to the Premier League next season, and if it was with Chelsea, he was sure that he would make them title contenders again. Now of course, it may have been a bit of a pop at the current incumbent at Stamford Bridge, in that Rafa Benitez has hardly set the place alight. Barbed comments in the direction of Benitez from the Scot are not unknown, but it seemed to be more than that.
Ever since the appointment of Rafa Benitez was prefixed with the word ‘Interim’ it was pretty obvious that there’d be a new man in the Stamford Bridge hot seat; if we accept that it won’t be Benitez, that is. Well, despite the recent upturn in the performance of the squad, I think it’s more than somewhat likely that Benitez will be waved a not-so-fond farewell by the Blues’ fans come season end, and the search that is surely well under way by now, will come to fruition.
Recently, a story in Bild has been picked up by the ‘red tops’ in this country. It goes along the lines of the Mourinho deal being all tied up as soon as the season ends, and that along with the Portuguese manager, Radamel Falcao, the Colombian striker currently at Atletico Madrid, will be tagging along as well. Although it doesn’t state the move as a fact, the tone is along the lines of ‘almost certain’, which is probably as far as anyone can say before contracts are signed. On the subject of which, rumours abounded that ‘first option’ contracts had been agreed with both Mourinho and Falcao, but not by Chelsea.
The Falcao talk was that an option had been agreed with Manchester United to take the Colombian to Old Trafford should the club wish to complete the deal. Should that be the case, the chances of Ferguson then allowing the player to slip through his fingers and appear at Stamford Bridge are slight indeed. Getting the Colombian to Stamford Bridge would be a bonus for Chelsea fans, but the big prize is Mourinho.
The deal for the manager was supposedly agreed between Mourinho’s agent, the iconic Jorge Mendez, and French oil-rich club, PSG. After just coming up short against Barcelona in the Champions’ League, Mourinho was to move in and pick up the reins following his apparently imminent departure from Real Madrid. Now, this may or may not be true, but all seems to have gone quiet on that particular rumour of late. In the face of all of the Mourinho to Chelsea clammer, the French club have merely offered a noncommittal Gallic shrug. Is this the stance of a club that has no interest, or one that knows their own deal is done?
In either instance, the bookmakers appear to be more than a little convinced of who’ll be managing Chelsea next season. At the time of writing, Skybet has the Portuguese at an intimidating 1-7 on, with David Moyes at 7-1, Pellegrini and Jurgen Klopp at 20-1 and anybody else you care to name out with the also-rans at 33-1 and greater.
I’m happy to ‘fess up that as long-time Blues fan, probably like 99% of others of that ilk, the thought of having Jose back is the stuff of dreams – with or without Falcao. To keep potential massive disappointment away, it’s always useful to persist with doubting the rumours, and pour damp water on the speculation. As the days pass and the talk continues to grow, without denials from any quarter, it’s just getting to the stage where it’s difficult to keep hiding the hope under a cover of reasonable doubt. As someone once wisely said, you can stand the disappointment, it’s the hope that kills you. With this one now though, Chelsea fans are just starting to believe that it might be a done deal.