- Rewind to 2004
'The Special One' arrives at Chelsea
The worst kept secret in football was revealed on Monday when it was confirmed that Jose Mourinho will return to Chelsea and the Premier League. When the Portuguese first arrived to Stamford Bridge though, he made quite an impression.
Roman Abramovich became the owner of Chelsea when he purchased the club in 2003, and the Russian had winning trophies firmly on his mind. However, with over £100 million spent on new players such as Hernan Crespo, Damien Duff and Juan Sebastian Veron, the trophy cabinet come the end of his first season was empty and did not go according to plan.
A new era at the Bridge equated to a new man required at the helm, so it was goodbye to Claudio Ranieri and hello to Jose Mourinho - the person Abramovich believed to be the one to bring success to West London and prove his expensive project worthwhile.
Mourinho had won the Champions League with FC Porto after they defeated Monaco in the final, and he departed the scene of the club's celebrations on the pitch early by taking off his winners' medal and heading straight down the tunnel.
There were reports long before Porto's European triumph that Mourinho had already put pen to paper at Chelsea, and the muted celebration was a sure sign that he was heading to the Premier League and the Blues.
It was a surprise not to see Mourinho enjoy his remarkable success given how ecstatically he celebrated, charging down the touchline, at Old Trafford against Manchester United, when Porto overcame the Red Devils in the last-16 of the competition.
Six trophies in over two-and-a-half years at Porto were enough for Abramovich to court Mourinho, and in June 2004 the Chelsea owner landed his man.
Jose's Chelsea roll of honour
- Premier League - 2004/05, 2005/06
- FA Cup - 2006/07
- League Cup - 2004/05, 2006/07
- Community Shield - 2005
And so, the time came to unveil Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. But rather than undergoing his press conference on the cautious side, Mourinho instead made a lasting impression at the advent of his Chelsea tenure.
"To give my best, to improve things and to create the football team in relation to my image and my football philosophy," was what Mourinho said on his plans at his new club.
Ranieri was liked by the Chelsea fans, but not so by Abramovich, who ruthlessly dismissed the popular Italian despite the Blues finishing second to the Arsenal "Invincibles" in the Premier League and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Abramovich craved trophies so regardless of the solid season Chelsea had it was not enough to keep Ranieri, who left with a parting shot at Mourinho, in charge for a fifth campaign.
Mourinho spoke of his predecessor in his press conference, and hit back at Ranieri's claims he could not survive as a Premier League manager.
"I heard that and I suggest if one of you is Mr Ranieri's friend or has his number you should call him and explain to him that for a team to win the European Cup it has to beat many teams from many countries," Mourinho said.
"I did not win the cup playing against 20 Portuguese teams. I played and beat a team from his own country, Italy, from your country and the one he was working in, England."
Many were keen to know what kind of man would be in the dugout at Chelsea. Many witnessed a glimpse of Mourinho's character from his antics at Old Trafford, but the snappy answers went a long way to conveying why he would turn out to be someone the fans would quickly adore.
A journalist posed the question: "What are your ambitions for the coming season?" to which Mourinho replied: "The biggest ambition I have is to win the first Premiership match on August 14."
Naturally, he was pressed on his other ambitions for the season, and everyone got an insight into who Abramovich had hired - especially those in the conference with the pleasure of a front row seat.
"The second ambition is to win the second Premiership match on August 21 and we will keep going like this."
Mourinho inherited a squad who were expected to dominate. Certainly with a significant amount of money spent on recruitments the requirements were high, and it would be down to the Portuguese to deliver and fill the silverware cupboard. No trophies almost certainly meant an early dismissal - and Ranieri being proven right.
"We have top players and, sorry if I'm arrogant, we have a top manager," Mourinho went on to say. "Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one."
'The Special One'. A tag which has stayed with Mourinho since day one when the words flew out of his mouth, and now everyone began to realise what kind of person Abramovich had taken on to control his Championship Manager-like side.
Following his blockbuster of a press conference, Mourinho applied pressure on himself to be successful and justify why Abramovich was paying him just over £4 million a year.