With Jose Mourinho set to arrive at Stamford Bridge any day now, I thought it would be interesting to talk to supporters of some of Chelsea's closest competition in the Premier League to see what they made of the return of the Special One. Would they be quaking in their collective boots? Would they laugh Mourinho off as a has-been? Let's find out!
Kevin McCauley -- Cartilage Free Captain (Tottenham Hotspur)
As a fan of the league in general, I'm thrilled about Mourinho's return. Manchester United has coasted on the strength of their managerial advantage for a while, and now the tables have turned. However, as a Tottenham fan, I'm less than thrilled for my team's prospects going forward. We were legitimately in competition with Chelsea for a couple of seasons because of their tumultuous managerial situation, but I expect them to finish comfortably above us with Mourinho at the helm.
Gene Um -- The Busby Babe (Manchester United)
From my (and a Manchester United supporting) perspective, the departure of on an institution that is Sir Alex Ferguson followed by the leap in faith hire of David Moyes -- undoubtedly a good manager, but one that has no experience in managing a 'big club' -- is a concern. This is further compounded by one of our primary domestic rivals for the title about to be hiring perhaps the best non-retired manager in Jose Mourinho.
To be fair, any successor -- whether that be Moyes, Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, or... Paulo Di Canio -- would be a downgrade from Ferguson due to the unique and immense influence he had at Old Trafford. For the past few seasons, I haven't fancied Chelsea's chances in the title race due to what I perceived to important weaknesses over a 38-match grind: the mercurial striker predicament, the lack of a #6 or #8 type of central-midfielder that could control games in key moments, and instability in the managerial role. With the likely hiring of Mourinho, the latter will be solved (for at least two seasons or so) while the other issues will likely be addressed because of the Special One's likely-to-be keen assessment of the Chelsea squad.
To sum it all up simply, I'd be pretty surprised if Chelsea weren't able to make at least a ten-point improvement on their point total from this season due to the likely appointment of Mourinho. Manuel Pellegrini won't make Manchester City any worse next season (I presume) so I envision a three-club race for the title with the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, and Liverpool being another tier down. Though it's obviously going to be the fault of the English press if Luis Suarez leaves and Liverpool finishes like 7th or 8th in the table again.
Ed -- Liverpool Offside (Liverpool)
It's hard for Liverpool to consider themselves bitter rivals with a Jose Mourinho Chelsea side heading into next season, especially given the fact that Brendan Rodgers is on cordial/friendly terms with Mourinho. It'd be much better if Liverpool had a squad that could give Chelsea a run for their money over the course of a season, but that's just not reality right now. Liverpool are building, and I think in a year or two they'll be able to challenge on a more consistent basis as long as they hold on to the promise that's there. I feel like the fun of dealing with Mourinho is to be had when things matter, and the club just aren't quite there yet. Of course, I hope Rodgers and Liverpool completely and utterly humiliate him at every possible opportunity for the time being, and then when it matters either domestically or in Europe they do it again. And that nobody gets poked in the eye. And that whoever replaces him isn't quite as smug. Or annoyingly successful.
Danny Pugsley -- Bitter and Blue (Manchester City)
As one of the two teams that has created somewhat of a duopoly the past two seasons (I think it is clear that City and United have opened up a gap between the chasing pack) the first thoughts are is that about to be affected? However, there may be a far wider impact here.
When Mourinho first came to Chelsea it appeared a great fit for a team clearly on the rise and set to challenge with a couple of additions and a manager to get them over the hump. Now, he arrives at a slightly different position. Chelsea are in somewhat of a transitory state, with some talented players emerging but old (and light) at a few other positions. As well as trying to overhaul United and City (themselves with new managers and questions of course) you do potentially have Arsenal, Tottenham and even Liverpool set to improve, which means that far from a clear top two/three that was in place during his previous tenure you could have a far close top five or top six next season, which could make the games between the sides even more crucial.
Ted Harwood -- The Short Fuse (Arsenal)
From an Arsenal perpsective, the return of Jose Mourinho feels like less of a concern than other things at the moment. While it is true that Mourinho at Chelsea probably means that Arsenal's competitor becomes stronger, and that itself is a worry, the more pressing concerns for the Gunners are internal. While Mourinho was at Chelsea the first time around, Arsenal were never really in the hunt, so the rivalry isn't as strong as it is, say, for Manchester United or Liverpool fans. All that being said, though, a rival strengthening is always a bit of a concern, even if it is Chelsea, and Chelsea always seem to strengthen. Mourinho's tweaking of Arsene Wenger with regard to the latter's "voyeuristic" attitude towards Chelsea's finances the first time around feels like ancient history at this point. We'll see what happens as the summer rolls along, but right now, I'd venture to say that most Arsenal fans sort of shrug and say "so Chelsea get stronger? That's about expected", and turn their eyes back to the goings-on at the Emirates.
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I have to admit I was hoping for more panic than that. But they'll see. They'll all see! Bwahahahahahahahahaaa.