x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Marriage is more than a word for Jose Mourinho

As Chelsea fans celebrate the second "marriage" of Jose Mourinho and their club, Will Batchelor imagines how the conversation might turn once the honeymoon period is over.

Jose Mourinho has rejoined Chelsea as coach.
Jose Mourinho has rejoined Chelsea as coach.

"I asked the boss: 'Do you want me back?' and the boss asked me, 'Do you want to come back?' And in a couple of minutes, the decision was made. I think we are ready to marry again and be happy."

Jose Mourinho describes his re-appointment this week as Chelsea manager.

Scene. A hospitality suite at Stamford Bridge, strewn with confetti and streamers. A "Just Re-Married" banner hangs from a solitary pin while helium slowly hisses from a balloon bearing the slogan: "The Special Ones". Only two guests remain. They sit at the bar, collars loosened, each nursing a coffee. The bearded man speak firsts, in a heavy Russian accent.

Roman Ambramovich: Well, Jose, we did it. How does it feel to be back?

His companion pauses. Running a hand through salt-and-pepper hair, he purses his lips and stares into the middle distance. Eventually he responds.

Jose Mourinho: Fine.

RA: That's it? Just fine?

JM: What else do you want me to say?

RA: Well, if I have to tell you, it's hardly worth saying. But a thank you might be nice.

JM: Oh, I'm sorry. Thank you. Thank you so much for bringing me here to show me what a great time you had without me.

RA: What? I don't know wh...

JM: That Champions League replica trophy? Bit tacky to still have it on display like that after all this time.

RA: What? But we keep all our trophies on...

JM: Oh, I know you do. Don't think I hadn't noticed the three FA Cups, one Premier League trophy, one Community Shield and that sorry what is it called again the "Europa League trophy"?

RA: But your trophies are there, too.

JM: At the back. If you can see past the glare of old Jug Ears.

RA: Well, sorry, but perhaps if you had won me a Champions League...

JM: Oh, throw that one in my face again. Like I told you at the time: That referee had it in for me.

RA: Sorry, which referee?

JM: Whoever was in charge when we lost a match.

Both men are silent. Eventually, salt-and-pepper pipes up again.

JM: So, good party was it?

RA: Tonight? Yes, it was...

JM: Not tonight. Did you have a good party after Roberto gave you your precious Champions League?

RA: What? No! I mean, yes, we had a few drinks and some snacks, perhaps a little music and dancing, but it was hardly a party.

JM: In this room?

RA: Look, I can't remember. I mean, it was such a long...

JM: A long time ago, yes. And yet you still have the trophy on display. So, did you enjoy working with him?

RA: Who, Roberto?

JM: Oh, so you admit there was more than one since me?

RA: Well, yes, a few. But you have hardly been a shrinking violet.

JM: Two clubs I have managed, two in six years. Remind me again, how many managers have you had?

RA: I don't really keep a count of.....

JM: Eight. You've had eight managers since me: Avram, Felipe, Ray, Gus, Carlo, Andre, Roberto, Rafael.

RA: Well, technically, Rafa was actually an interim manager. And let's not pretend you have been waiting for me all this time. We all saw you making eyes at Manchester United.

JM: Oh, really? I'm surprised you noticed anything while running after Pep Guardiola like a lovesick puppy. And he took his tiki-taka elsewhere. So you came running back to me and my old, tired, highly successful brand of defensive football. Take a good look at me, old friend, because this - you and me - this is all we've got.

RA: Well, not all. There is Michael, too.

JM: Michael?

A smartly dressed Nigerian man enters the room, holding a coat, which he hands to the bearded man.

RA: Yes, Michael Emenalo, my technical director. You'll be working together. I am sure you'll get along like a house on fire.

The Russian smiles and leaves, with Michael in tow. Salt-and-pepper walks across to the helium balloon, now drifting at knee level, and stamps on it.