Roman Abramovich's chances of convincing José Mourinho to relieve him from the repercussions of serial managerial sackings are dependent on Chelsea's owner ceding control of soccer matters to the Portuguese coach. According to close friends, Mourinho is seriously considering a proposal to return to Stamford Bridge this summer, yet wants to do so only if key powers are restored to the manager.
Chelsea's transfer policy and significant aspects of team selection -- including the deployment of £50 million record signing Fernando Torres -- have been driven by Abramovich in recent seasons, greatly contributing to the difficulties faced by Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto di Matteo. Though trophies have been won under the structure -- Di Matteo guiding the club to a Champions League and FA Cup double a mere three months after being promoted to "interim first team coach" -- all three have complained of the restrictions places upon them by the Russian billionaire.
Mourinho, who plans to leave Real Madrid this summer partly because the club he made Spanish champions has regularly usurped his authority on football decisions, left Chelsea in 2007 for similar reasons. While retaining a strong emotional tie to a club he led to back-to-back Premier League titles and three more major trophies, he is not prepared to compromise his managerial principles to achieve the return.
The structure of Chelsea's squad, the signing and selection of players, and the team's tactics are all fundamental. Abramovich moved to reconcile his relationship with Mourinho a few months after dismissing him by gifting him a limited edition Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. The pair has remained in regular contact since. "José knows very well the guy, and the guy knows very well José," a close friend told SI.com. "Both know exactly what they want."
Though the necessity of appointing a strong, successful coach at Stamford Bridge has been underlined by Rafael Benitez's struggles with the Premier League and the vocal discontent of the home support, Mourinho will wait to make a final decision on his next club. Paris Saint-Germain remains a strong contender for his signature with his family members already preparing to base themselves in London for the beginning of the next academic year. Mourinho's daughter has enrolled in a fine arts school in the capital, and his son is also keen to continue his education away from Spain.
For now the 50-year-old's focus is on Real Madrid. Last week, his tactics helped Madrid to a 3-1 Camp Nou victory over Barcelona that took them to the final of the Copa del Rey followed by a 2-1 home victory over the same opponents with a weakened side. On Tuesday, they eliminated Manchester United from the Champions League at Old Trafford to reach the quarterfinals of a competition that has been Madrid's priority all season and which Mourinho has already won with two different clubs.
Mourinho's position at the summit of world football is to be recognized by his hometown later this month. The coastal city of Setubal is to open a museum exhibition including many of Mourinho's personal mementoes belongings on March 25. There are also plans to name a street, square or public park to recognize the coach's "extraordinary role in international sport."
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