It’s something that has been gently and quietly whispered amongst some fans of Chelsea FC, mooted by those who are interested in a wider debate and pondered by the few that question but do not dare to appear publicly treacherous or mutinous. Can Jose Mourinho make Chelsea beautiful?
This six part series will examine Jose Mourinho’s history as one of the most successful coaches of the modern era; intertwine, analyse and chart the Chelsea revolution under owner Roman Abramovich; and explore the answer to the question: Can Jose Mourinho coach a team to be beautiful? To read part one, click here.
Whilst Jose Mourinho was in Italy breaking records and winning titles, Chelsea fans struggled to deal with the loss of such an iconic figure.
In the wake of Mourinho’s departure, Avram Grant, the recently appointed Director of Football, had been given the task of the steering the ship. His lack of UEFA recognised coaching qualifications did nothing to increase his standing with the players or supporters.
Given the negativity surrounding Chelsea and the continued speculation about Grants’ long term future, he was surprisingly issued with a four year contract in December 2007. Despite opposition from fan groups he rallied to get Chelsea to the League Cup final (a 2-1 extra time loss to Tottenham), finished second in the league to Manchester United, and reached the 2008 UEFA Champions League final after beating Liverpool 4-3 on aggregate. In a rain soaked final in Moscow, a John Terry slip when taking the decisive 5th penalty denied Chelsea a first ever win in the competition.
Following Grants sacking just four days after the Final, Chelsea were now on the lookout for another manager. The objective this time was clear; win and win playing well.
Ex-Portugal and Brazil world cup winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was recruited and given the task of turning Chelsea into winners again, but to do so with style. Deco was signed from Barcelona for £8 million and scored on his debut against FA Cup holders Portsmouth. The season started brightly but the team soon faded in the winter months. Similar to the previous season, rumours were coming from the camp complaining about the lack of intensity in training and ‘Big Phil’s’ style of management.
On February 9th 2009 the club dismissed Scolari due to “concerns about recent results.” Guus Hiddink became the fourth man in charge in less than two years and led Chelsea to an FA Cup triumph over Everton, and the infamous semi-final of the Champions league against Barcelona.
Despite the fans calling for Guus Hidink to extend his tenure as boss he showed he was a man of his word and returned to the Russian FA to continue as their Head Coach.
Given how close Chelsea FC had come to winning the Champions League in 2008 and 2009, the pursuit of Carlo Ancelotti had all the hallmarks of a being a solid appointment. A winner as a player with Milan and Roma, he had gone on to coach AC Milan to Serie A titles as well as two Champions League wins in 2003 and 2007.
Ancelotti was a successful and popular appointment. After the era of Jose Mourinho and his siege mentality, the Italians’ calm approach to press conferences and friendly demeanour made the public warm to Chelsea. He immediately made a winning start beating Manchester United in the 2009 Community Shield.
Despite the loss to Mourinho’s Inter Milan in the Champions league knockout phase, Ancelotti secured Chelsea’s first ever League and Cup double. In doing so Chelsea broke the Premier League goal scoring record by hitting an incredible 103 goals in just 38 games. They secured the title on the final day with an 8-0 thumping of Wigan at Stamford Bridge. The Ancelotti brand of football was open and free flowing, with the team scoring plenty of goals in the process.
The only thing missing now for Chelsea and owner Roman Abramovich was the Champions League.
In Part III we take a look at Jose Mourinho’s adventures in charge of the world’s biggest club; Real Madrid.
Main Photo: BARNSLEY, UNITED KINGDOM – MARCH 08: Michael Ballack of Chelsea appeals during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 6th Round match between Barnsley and Chelsea at Oakwell on March 8, 2008 in Barnsley, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)