In the hours following Brazil's friendly with Russia at Stamford Bridge, the media were puzzled by a significant no-show. Jose Mourinho was a guest of the Brazilian FA, but no TV cameras had picked him up and there were no reported sightings of the Special One.
A few days later, however, pictures taken by a fan emerged showing the Portuguese coach disguised with a hood, apparently sitting high in the stands among the fans.
It's safe to say that Mourinho's most recent return to Stamford Bridge was much more low-key than the next one is expected to be.
Despite being under contract with Real Madrid until 2016, his time in Spain looks set to be cut short. After the record-breaking La Liga season of 2011-12, Mourinho has delivered a disappointingly uncompetitive domestic campaign this time around.
He has been jeered and whistled at the Bernabeu on several occasions, and irked fans and club president Florentino Perez by defiantly dropping Iker Casillas, just days after he was voted into the FIFPro World XI for the fifth consecutive season.
If he fails to progress in the Champions League, he leaves. If he achieves Madrid's much-sought-after La Decima (10th European Cup), he leaves with his work done, much like he did after winning it for Internazionale.
After the exceptionally unpopular appointment of "interim" manager Rafa Benitez, most Chelsea fans would welcome the return of the Special One. In association with Roman Abramovich's millions, he heralded the most successful period in the club's history. With a 67 percent win rate, he was the most successful Blues manager (that win rate has since been equalled by Avram Grant and bettered by 2009 stop-gap solution manager Guus Hiddink).
With Mou's return, the angst of Chelsea fans would be satiated, and the Portuguese coach would get to live his dream of once again being a domestic adversary of Sir Alex Ferguson—the man he is tipped to one day supersede at the Theatre of Dreams.
Former Real Madrid star Esteban Granero, however, was recently quoted inferring that Mourinho should snub a deal with Chelsea. His motivations for this statement aren't entirely clear, but in many ways, he is right.
Firstly, one has to question the motivation behind working for an oligarch who publicly parted with Mourinho in September 2007, immediately following a 1-1 Champions League draw with Rosenborg. The exit "by mutual consent" was apparently sparked by a 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa a few weeks previously, and Abramovich's apparent insistence that Mou fielded under-performing striker Andriy Shevchenko.
The 2007-08 season may have been Chelsea's first in four years without a trophy, but with the groundwork Mourinho laid, they missed out on the Premier League title by just two points and reached their first European Cup Final.
Abramovich has since worked on repairing the rift with £2 million Ferrari gifts, but is Mourinho wise to consider working for a man who so ruthlessly dismissed him?
Working for the same club more than once is not uncommon or particularly undignified—Jupp Heynckes seems to have made a career out of it—but the Chelsea managerial chalice could be considered poisonous.
Including caretakers Ray Wilkins and Guus Hiddink, 10 managers have served under Abramovich in 12 seasons. That is an embarrassingly high turnover and indicative of the kind of fickleness that isn't desirable in an employer.
The managerial revolving door may suit Mourinho, as he hasn't spent any more than three seasons at any single club. Yet the essence of Mourinho is to have success and quickly move on. It's no secret that Mou would like to win a Champions League with an English side, but why risk re-treading his own footsteps to risk tainting the brilliant legacy he left at the club?
He won six trophies. He had an undefeated home record. He was adored.
Perhaps a similar analogy would be the career of Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher. The German retired in 2006, with seven Championship titles and a reputation as one of the all-time greats. In 2009, he came back to racing but achieved very little success before retiring again after three more seasons. He should have bowed out on a high. Paul Weller broke up his band The Jam at the height of their fame. That's the way to close a chapter on a period of your career.
For the same reason, he may wish to refrain from "fluttering his eyelashes" at Internazionale.
If Mourinho wanted to return to England, he would have the pick of the litter. Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool would all probably love to have him. In a few years time, the door at Manchester United might open for him.
Some might say the Chelsea return is about picking up where he left off, or simply returning to an environment that he loved. But he will surely be better off picking up a fresh challenge. Or better still, if he doesn't win it this year and politics allow it, perhaps he should listen to Esteban Granero's advice and stay in the Spanish capital until he has delivered the big one: La Decima.
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