During his Monday afternoon media conference at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho outlined some of his initial thoughts on the plans for the team.
It is nine years on since he first arrived on the English football scene and although there is some familiarity in the Chelsea and the Premier League to which he returns, plenty is different as he is quick to acknowledge.
The club enjoyed knockout cup victories between 1997 and 2000 but when Mourinho came in 2004 we still had to learn how to win leagues – but that soon changed.
‘Chelsea needed that last push in the direction of trophies and success,’ he recalled today when asked about restoring the present team as genuine title challengers.
‘There was a new owner and big investment and the average age of the players was perfect for that jump of quality. We did it well by winning and by probably, even after my departure, having that base that stayed in the club and helped them to reach more success in the future.
‘If that happens I am more than happy as the job of the manager is not only to be focused on what you do when you are here but also on what you do for the legacy for the future.
‘This time I arrive and victories and silverware is nothing new in the club. Since I left it has won the Premier League again and the Champions League, and more FA Cups and it is a moment for a completely different approach – not by losing my nature which is the nature of the club too, trying to win – but I think we are all prepared for a different era and a different profile of team.
‘Of course there are still a few boys from my time before and it is always good to see these people that gave absolutely everything to me when I was here, but it is important to say that there is no privilege for them – but they know that already because they know my nature. They don’t have an advantage over the other people.
‘After that there is a group of boys that Chelsea did very well in the past years to get, with great quality, potential and a great future. I will be happy to work with them and try to improve them.
‘Then after that, every club, especially a club like us, has the ambition to add a couple of new players to give some different qualities and to increase the competition in the squad, but I think the most important part of the job at the moment is around the improvement of the boys with big potential. I think I have the conditions to do that and I am more than happy to help.’
The manager wants to start working with the squad, even the players he knew previously, before making major decisions. Time changes people he said and watching Chelsea on TV at least 20 times a season is not enough to form opinions.
‘The first thing is not to arrive here and say to Mr Abramovich and members of the board that I need a lot of money with a lot of zeros to change half of the team,’ he emphasised.
‘I have to start by knowing the players, being fair with them, giving them a chance and not committing injustices. A couple of new signings is normal and current practice for any club, but the main objective is to know them and improve what we have.’
Mourinho stressed that stability at Chelsea is best for both him at this stage in his career and for educating the 20-to-25-year-old players he holds in high regard. He returns to a club with fantastic structure, better in all different areas than before he reported.
‘The older players – Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech – they have great quality in football terms and also great quality to feel they are very important for the balance and the development of the younger players,’ he added.
He was asked by a Belgian reporter about the immediate future for two players who have been out on loan, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.
‘First of all I want to meet them and it’s fair the players are the first to know about their futures from the manager and club, not by the media. I’m not just speaking in relation to Kevin or Romelu, but generally. I had the chance to speak with some of the players, others I didn’t. I need to meet them, feel and make a decision which is best for me as a manager, for the players and for Chelsea.
‘But Chelsea invested a lot in the players and it’s my job to extract the best out of that investment. Both of them are ready to come and be part of my squad.’
Of course it is not only Chelsea that has changed while Mourinho has been in Italy and Spain, the competition has too and only Arsene Wenger remains in place in the Premier League from 2007.
‘I’m a bit disappointed that I’m back and when I go to Old Trafford Sir Alex is not there as a manager, but I think David [Moyes] has the conditions and experience and protection from the club to do his job and do it well.
‘I am happy he [Wenger] is there, of course I am. If he is there it is because he wants to be and the club and the fans and players want him to be there, and if they stick together it is fantastic. By not winning a major trophy in the last years shows even better how connected they are and it is a great example for a football club so I am more than happy.
‘Brendan [Rodgers], Steve [Clarke] and Andre [Villas-Boas] aren’t boys anymore,’ he said of former Chelsea staff turned Premier League bosses.
‘I won’t be playing against them, Chelsea will be playing against Liverpool, Tottenham and West Brom, but I’m more than happy to play in the same league as they are and I’m more than happy to wish them all the best. I look forward to what the Premier League is. In the last three years I was in a two-horse race and now I’ve moved to a league where you lose more times, you lose more points and the competition is more open.
‘When I arrived in 2004 Arsenal were the power and were a fantastic team, and after that it was us and Man United trying to go there.
‘Now the picture is different. Man U are the champions, Man City were before them and when I was here first time they were not able to do that. And you have Arsenal and Tottenham coming up and Liverpool in the second season with Brendan will be there.
‘So for everybody the competition starts by trying to finish top four, and then top three because it is better than top four, and then to try to be champions, and we will try.’