Not as special now, but Jose was missed

It was the love affair that never ended. He left. They mourned, falling briefly into the arms of others.  Now he is back. It’s Jose Mourinho and Chelsea fans, it’s Mills and Boon, and it’s a special relationship that could spell trouble for others.

Many will be cynical about Mourinho’s return. Never go back, they say. Try saying that to Jupp Heynckes, who rescued Bayern Munich’s season on his return as an interim and then led them to a historic treble during his third spell in charge. It can work. The Godfather Part II was the best of the series.

Mourinho and Chelsea Mark II will need work, though. It will need money and patience. When Mourinho first blew into England like a hurricane in Armani, Chelsea had incredible financial muscle, almost unique in English football.

Now there is Manchester City, who will be a revitalised force under Manuel Pellegrini and the pipeline of oil money.

Manchester United have Wilfried Zaha and David Moyes will be given more funds to remould the team. Arsenal should have a fit Jack Wilshere and may at last get round to buying top quality. Spurs and Liverpool have good, hungry young managers.

Mourinho  won’t catch people out like in 2004. Managers will want to prove themselves against him, from  former proteges like Andre Villas Boas, Brendan Rodgers and Steve Clarke to old foes like Moyes, Pellegrini and Arsene Wenger.

His return is a gold-dusted joy for those who run the Premier League. Any sporting soap-opera that boasts a cast including such characters as Mourinho and Ian Holloway is worth watching, and listening to. Better football is played in the Bundesliga and La Liga but no league can rival England’s elite division for drama.

Mourinho returns a slightly chastened figure, less cocksure than the Portuguese peacock who first strutted into the Bridge, fresh from his Champions League trophy success at Porto and charming everyone.

The memory of his  antics and  on-field disappointments last season at Real Madrid mean his reputation as the go-to guarantor of silverware has been harmed.

English football will be less tolerant of his mind games and jousts with officials. He has history with Premier League referees. He has had issues with Roman Abramovich. He needs to balance the Chelsea hierarchy’s desire for more nimble, Latin-style movement against his love of pace and power.

He has to measure the extent of John Terry’s decline, setting a bruised body against the defender’s undoubted leadership and positional strengths. He has to decide where David Luiz fits into his tactical framework. Fernando Torres’ days are  numbered but will Mourinho gamble on Romelu Lukaku? Andre Schurrle is expected to join from Bayer Leverkusen. Where does he fit?

So many questions. Mourinho has a record of finding answers. He will  have an instant impact, galvanising a club that won a trophy under  Rafael Benitez but seemed at odds with itself. His  ‘‘I am one of you’’ message to fans via Chelsea TV was  clever,  tapping into all that terrace angst towards Benitez.  Mourinho deserves to be welcomed back.   He will make Chelsea a genuine threat in the title race, arguably favourites. He will  find  English football  less forgiving this time. But it is good to see him back.

Telegraph, London

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