Fate and football have always seemed to be familiar bedfellows, and the two almost conspired once again to give Chelsea's new manager a sense of deja vu. Jose Mourinho's first spell in charge of the Blues began with an opening-day fixture against Manchester United in August 2004 when Eidur Gudjohnsen's strike gave the Portuguese a famous 1-0 win and marked the initial step towards Chelsea's first league title for half a century. Nine years on and Chelsea will once again play the Red Devils in August, though this time it will be on the road and in the second fixture of the campaign.
As the anticipation increases around Chelsea after the appointment of their latest - albeit familiar - manager, the anticipated excitement on the pitch is more than matched by the potential intrigue away from it. Internal political manoeuvres and schism-inducing power struggles have been some of the hallmarks of Roman Abramovich's eventful decade in control of the club, and despite protestations to the contrary there is no certainty that the situation will be markedly different upon Jose Mourinho's return to the club.
Now that the I's have been dotted and the T's crossed on Jose Mourinho's re-appointment as Chelsea manager, the transfer rumour mill has whirred fully into action. Whenever a transfer window opens, Chelsea are one of the prime suspects upon which to pin endless amount of speculation and conjecture. The history of Roman Abramovich's largesse in the ten years that he has owned the club has more or less legitimised the fanciful stories that have populated the digital and traditional media in that time.
The return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge has been heralded as the first move to ignite another period of domestic dominance for Chelsea. Whilst competing on multiple fronts and continuing to successfully challenge for honours, the Blues have been off the pace in the Premier League in each of the last three seasons, with last term's sixth-placed finish their lowest since 2002. Despite victory on the grandest of stages in Munich last May, Roman Abramovich wasn't happy. The team might have won club football's biggest prize, the Champions League, but they weren't playing pretty football and manager Roberto Di Matteo was soon out the door, with Rafa Benitez failing to win the fans over during his time as interim coach.
The conference room at Stamford Bridge was packed with more than 250 journalists from the worlds of television, newspaper and online by the time Jose Mourinho sauntered back in to the Premier League limelight on Monday. It was an impressive number considering the large amount of negative articles written by many of those same journalists about the Portuguese in the days since his re-instatement as Chelsea manager was confirmed last week. Some have have suggested that his return to West London was a backward step or, at the very least, a sideways one.
The body of the 2012-13 season might still be warm but the nascent stirrings of the next campaign have already begun. The scramble to reinforce the playing squads of Europe's elite is well underway. With significant deals for exorbitant sums having already been concluded, all the signs are pointing to this summer being a seller’s market when it comes to trading players. AS Monaco have led the way by raiding Porto for midfielders Joao Moutinho - a former Chelsea target - and James Rodriguez, though the real feather in their tax-exempt cap has been the capture of Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid.
The homecoming of Jose Mourinho has grabbed the headlines and ensnared the hearts of Chelsea fans. The promise of gold-plated sound-bites has got the nation's journalists salivating at the prospect of his weekly press conferences while Blues supporters are similarly relishing the possibility of a return to the top of the domestic game. However, in the midst of all the hyperbole, there is very important job for Mourinho to do. With the make-up of his technical staff already in place -- an intelligent mixture of incumbent coaches and his own travelling circus of Portuguese tacticians -- the task of analysing his squad and making the necessary additions and omissions will be the first item on his agenda.
So the waiting is over. Jose Mourinho has signed a four-year deal worth a reported GBP;40 million to become the next Chelsea manager and returns to the place where he enjoyed so much success. It had been the worst kept secret in football, with Mourinho's assistant at Real Madrid Aitor Karanka speaking openly to the press on the subject and even the official website of the Premier League prematurely announcing the manager's return to Stamford Bridge 24 hours before the news was eventually confirmed by Chelsea's chief executive Ron Gourlay.
Chelsea's 2012/13 season was a rollercoaster ride that was both exhilarating and excruciating in equal measure. Acrimony and anger were as commonplace as ecstasy and entertainment as Chelsea veered back and forth from the sublime to the ridiculous with all manner of off-field controversies commanding as many headlines as events on the pitch. There were 69 competitive fixtures in all -- here is part two of eight matches that shaped this crazy campaign. Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea, February 27, 2013, FA Cup Chelsea returned to the north east three and a half weeks after their defeat to Newcastle to face Championship side Middlesbrough.
Chelsea's 2012/13 season was a rollercoaster ride that was both exhilarating and excruciating in equal measure. Acrimony and anger were as commonplace as ecstasy and entertainment as Chelsea veered back and forth from the sublime to the ridiculous with all manner of off-field controversies commanding as many headlines as events on the pitch. There were 69 competitive fixtures in all, here is part one of eight matches that shaped this crazy campaign. Tottenham 2-4 Chelsea – 20th October 2012 – Premier League The 4-1 demolition at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup aside, Chelsea had begun the season in fine fettle.
After the kind of season that Chelsea have just experienced, it would usually be the time to sit back, relax and breathe deeply knowing that there are three months of rest and recuperation until the madness starts all over again. Except this year. Instead, the nervous anticipation and biting of nails has continued into the close season as supporters and players alike wait to officially find out the name of Rafael Benitez's successor in the managerial hot seat. Not that the name will be a surprise, more that nobody will quite believe it until they see the man in question hoist the blue flag over his head or see an official club photograph of him signing his contract alongside chief executive Ron Gourlay.
After a week full of emotion, Chelsea signed off their 2012-13 campaign with a flourish in their 2-1 home win over Everton on Sunday. With Frank Lampard scoring the goals that places him alone at the summit of Chelsea's all-time scoring list and Branislav Ivanovic securing the club a second major European trophy in two years, the team could have been forgiven for being off the boil in the 70th game of a ludicrously exhausting season. Instead, there was energy, desire and more than a little creativity as Chelsea made sure of the third-place finish that they so utterly deserved.