Is Roman about to break the bank to bring back the Special One at Chelsea
22:16 GMT, 21 April 2012
Roman Abramovich is ready to pay
whatever it takes to get Jose Mourinho back at Chelsea after settling
his differences with the Real Madrid manager.
The Russian owner and Mourinho parted
on bad terms in 2007 but relations have improved to such an extent
since that wages of more than 9million a year – after tax – and a
compensation bill from Madrid of 25m would be sanctioned.
Special One: Jose Mourinho mastermided Real Madrid's victory at Barcelona on Saturday
A Chelsea source said: 'Such is Roman's determination to bring back Mourinho that he is prepared to top Jose's Madrid wages and pay compensation to buy out the remaining two years of his contract.'
Abramovich has conceded he needs a strong, experienced manager to take on the rebuilding job that is on the agenda for Chelsea this summer.
The political battles that were waged in Mourinho's first reign have been forgotten, with the task of clearing out some of the club's old guard the priority. Depending on the outcome of skipper John Terry's court hearing for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, up to half-a-dozen of the current first-team squad could be on their way out of Stamford Bridge.
Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard are vulnerable and there are also major doubts about Fernando Torres still being at the club at the start of next season.
Mourinho is Abramovich's first choice
to take care of that but France coach Laurent Blanc, Marseille manager
Didier Deschamps and Luciano Spalletti, in charge at Zenit St
Petersburg, are still in the frame in case the Real boss cannot be
persuaded to return.
Back in favour: Mourinho and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich
Stand-in manager Roberto di Matteo has also added himself to that
shortlist after doing a magnificent job of turning things around after
the difficult sixmonth reign of Andre Villas-Boas.
The Italian has taken Chelsea to the brink of the Champions League final as well as to the FA Cup final, restoring player morale along the way. But he is still a long way behind Mourinho in Abramovich's thinking.
Di Matteo admits he has been bowled over by the events which have taken place just 14 months after he was put on gardening leave at his previous club, West Bromwich Albion.
Going to Barcelona, as he does on
Tuesday, with a 1-0 lead in the second leg of a Champions League
semi-final, is not something he could have dreamed of back then. 'What
has happened has been very unexpected,' said Di Matteo. 'I was very
happy to come back and work as assistant to Andre.
'I haven't put much thought into who found who. I was here and I was
approached by the club, and was happy to help, so for whatever the
club's needs, I'm just trying to steer this group of players towards the
end of the season and trying to be successful.'
The big games are coming thick and fast as Chelsea, needing European
competition next season, face vital Premier League games to try to
finish in the top four.
Happy days: Frank Lampard (L) and Mourinho celebrate victory over Barcelona in 2005
team spirit, a major problem under Villas-Boas, has been the strength
behind the impressive results under Di Matteo. 'It has been pretty
intense from day one because, apart from one week, we've played every
three or four days,' he said.
'But that's the price of success when you manage to reach the final of the FA Cup and the semifinal of the Champions League so we're very pleased to be challenging ourselves in these competitions.
It's important the players know the responsibility they have to the club and the supporters, and to the players themselves.
'A footballer's career is very short and every season you have a chance to achieve something and every year you have to try your best to do that. You don't know when there is going to be another chance for you.'
Di Matteo also launched a passionate defence of Drogba, insisting that criticism of his dramatic falls during Wednesday's win against Barca was misplaced.
'Didier has a swollen knee because he got battered by the defenders,' said Di Matteo. 'He got kicked, pushed and shoved around. It certainly helps the team but I don't think it was a tactic. 'We expect everybody who is on the pitch to put their bodies on the line for the club, that's part of the team ethic.'