This week, there have been plenty of tabloid reports stating that Jose Mourinho's return to Chelsea is likely, but conditional on three conditions: Being paid £12m per year, re-signing Frank Lampard, and Chelsea earning another year of Champions League football. I have my doubts about these supposed demands, really, so let's take a look.
The first, the salary of £12m p/a, is actually not that insane. It sounds like a lot, given that it's presented in an annual format, rather than the weekly one we're used to in football, but it's really not for a manager of his talents. For reference, Andre Villas-Boas was reportedly on a little less than half of that, and Rafa Benitez around £3m* for their times at Chelsea. Obviously, £230,000 p/w is still a lot, but it's not exactly astronomical, considering it's either a small raise or a small pay cut, depending on who you ask. Simply put, Mourinho's an in-demand manager, and possibly the best there is. You have to pay up for a guy like that if you want him.
[h/t to the wonderful @sidcelery]
The second, that Frank Lampard must be re-signed, is pretty tenuous. Frank's situation is very hard to read at the moment. He's out of contract at the end of the season, and might be offered a new contract anyway. It's a pretty standard media claim in that it's easily-forgotten if it's ultimately incorrect, but will be shouted from the rooftops if it's correct. Jose Mourinho isn't stupid. If he would really let the move get hung up something so seemingly-insignificant, it's a sign he never wanted to come in the first place.
Speaking of which, the third point, about Champions League football, also seems a bit tenuous to me. On a purely logical basis, it makes sense. Jose wants to manage a top club, and top club play in the Champions League. There is plenty of sense in it. After all, Jose wouldn't go to PSG if they fell out of the Champions League places. Chelsea is different, though. You can't really say that he would demand Frank be re-signed -- which is more of an emotional act than a strictly-logical one -- then say that something like the Champions League would stop him.
It's been widely-reported that Jose feels a sense of "unfinished business" with Chelsea, and it hard to see any reason why he wouldn't. He still maintains close relationships with many of the players at Chelsea, and when Didier Drogba says something, it's probably true. That's why his return to Chelsea probably doesn't hinge on the Champions League. I'm sure missing out would make his desire to return that much greater. He seems like the sort of guy who would enjoy the narrative of "rescuing 'his' team" from danger.
All that said, it's just my feeling that none of it would stop him, but I'm not exactly the only one. Take for example the following Tweets by well-respected German football journalist extraordinaire Raphael Honigstein:
Mourinho to Chelsea buzz getting louder. two very different people with CFC connections insist "it's a done deal"— raphael honigstein (@honigstein) April 8, 2013
one source an agent, the other a commercial partner of the club— raphael honigstein (@honigstein) April 8, 2013
It's got to the point where actual, legitimate, serious journalists are reporting it. It's probably time to start believing it. It also makes the idea of Jose having a list of "demands" for returning that much more spurious. It creates an air of tension they can report on. With the race for fourth place set to go down to the final day, there'll be reports like "Chelsea's Mourinho Dream Hangs in the Balance!" For both those seemingly-speculative reports about demands and high-profile journalists like Honigstein claiming "it's a done deal" to be true, Roman and the board must have agreed to the salary, the new contract for Lampard, and the professional knee-capping of both Spurs and Arsenal.
That seems unlikely to me. I mean, come on! Do you know how expensive professional hitmen are? We simply can't afford that in the FFP era. Oh, and before I forget, the MOUCON level is still at 2, but we're now on the verge of MOUCON 1! Exciting times, folks! : )