6:00pm Wednesday 21st August 2013
Stamford Bridge was packed to the rafters – and it’s not only the fans who are acclaiming the return of the Special One.
I am sitting high in the stand watching a great man receive total adolation from the blue hordes.
But at pitch level, there are a squad of highly-talented, massively-paid professionals, who, almost certainly, are as glad to see Jose Mourinho back as any football fan.
I have played under 17 managers, including Glenn Hoddle, Gianluca Vialli and Tony Pulis – but, oh, what would I have given to be one of Jose’s disciples.
I have been a fan of Mourinho since he first entered the Premier League and my admiration never wavered when he left.
Most of my managers came at the right time for me in my career. With Mourinho, he always came at the right time for the player regardless of their age.
I have worked under bosses who bullied youngsters, dismissed senior players and had zero man-management skills. A few even ticked all three boxes.
By contrast, Mourinho will encourage youngsters, embrace senior footballers and certainly knows how to manage people.
The bond between him and his players, wherever he has been, is a rarity in my view.
Players not only want to play for him, but seem desperate to want to repay him by winning.
Rarely have I heard of footballers shedding tears for a manager when he leaves.
In fact, I never did until it happened with Mourinho.
After he left Chelsea and Inter Milan it is said some players wept for him – and even Jose himself had a quiet sob.
I find that fascinating and endearing, especially when football is an environment where emotions for a departing teammate or members of staff are virtually non-existent as they usually change so often.
It’s rare that you hear of any ex-players having digs at him, even those who weren’t flavour of the month and didn’t play regularly.
I am not including the Real Madrid squad, taking into account media reports that it appears some had hidden agendas.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not seeing this through Blue-tinted glasses, it’s the footballer in me, not just the Mourinho fan.
I look at the great Sir Alex Ferguson, and, yes, I am curious as to what it would have been like to be in one of his dressing rooms and see him at work.
But there is just something different with Mourinho – something that makes me wish I was one of ‘his’ players and part of his group.
I would love to sample being in his team and experience the special bond he has with his players – whether it be pre or post match.
Or even to be able to pick his brains on football, tactics and opposition. I would love to embrace his knowledge to improve me and make me a better player.
Those are the sorts of things that as a footballer and Mourinho-lover I would have been thrilled to experience.
Sadly, it’s too late for me, it isn’t going to happen. But a man can dream I suppose.
All I can say, is welcome home, Jose, the game needs you.
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