2004 to 2007 & 2013 to 2015
When Jose Mourinho was unveiled at Stamford Bridge on 2 June 2004 he was the most successful manager Chelsea had ever appointed. Still only 41, the Portuguese had won the European Cup, UEFA Cup and domestic league title in his homeland.
It was not only his track record that suggested the club had landed someone special. ‘We have top players,’ he announced at the media conference, ‘and, sorry if I’m arrogant, but we now have a top manager.’ Smart, thorough, eloquent and witty, Mourinho wowed the media with the kind of confidence, insight and preparation that would be hallmarks of his management.
His much-vaunted ‘methodology’ – rooted in an holistic, scientific approach to training, tactical flexibility, defensive awareness, and players allowing him inside their heads – proved sensationally successful, beginning with a 1-0 win in his first game at home to Manchester United.
A shrewd tactical shift from 4-diamond-2 to 4-3-3 turbo-charged the team and, with wingers Damien Duff and Arjen Robben to the fore, Chelsea hit top spot in November and never let up. With Frank Lampard’s two goals at Bolton the Blues won the title for the first time in 50 years, ultimately with a remarkable Premier League record tally of 95 points and just 15 goals conceded. While players and supporters danced around the Reebok, Mourinho calmly called his wife to tell her the score. Winning was quite normal – and the Portuguese had already made his new team winners in the League Cup, too.
Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea for a second spell at the helm in 2013 as already our most successful manager, and he left in December 2015 not only with our gratitude but with that record further enhanced.It was in 2014/15, his second season back after successful spells in Italy and Spain in charge of Inter Milan and Real Madrid, that his Chelsea side won silverware to add to the two league championships, two League Cups and one FA Cup we had collected between 2004 and 2007 – the first Mourinho years.
The Blues lost just three matches over the course of that campaign, one of which at West Bromwich Albion coming when we had already been crowned champions.
The team showed incredible levels of consistency, and the first part of the season will be remembered for the quality of our attacking play, with new signings Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa flourishing.
During the second half of the campaign when injuries and suspensions threatened to bite we defended well as a unit and secured a number of wins by a one-goal margin, with the victories away at QPR and at home to Manchester United standing out, before Eden Hazard netted the only goal of the game against Crystal Palace to secure the title.
Two months earlier we had won the first trophy of the second Mourinho reign - the Capital One Cup – courtesy of a 2-0 victory over London rivals Tottenham at Wembley. For the Portuguese, it was the third time he had won the trophy, following triumphs over Liverpool and Arsenal in 2005 and 2007 respectively.
His first campaign back at the club, 2013/14, was one which ultimately ended trophy-less, but the team went close both domestically and in Europe.
For his first game back in charge, at home to Hull City, the Portuguese was given a rapturous welcome by the Stamford Bridge faithful, and goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard made sure it was a winning start.
The 4-3-3 formation which had been the hallmark of his first spell made way for a 4-2-3-1, and one defeat in our opening nine Premier League matches set us on the right path for a title challenge.
Our record in the biggest games was fantastic, with the Blues taking six points off both Manchester City and Liverpool, and four off Manchester United and Arsenal. The Gunners and Tottenham were beaten 6-0 and 4-0 respectively on their visits to the Bridge, but disappointing results against the teams we were expected to beat, particularly Sunderland and Norwich towards the end of the campaign, meant we finished third.
In Europe, Mourinho led us to the last four of the Champions League for the third time as Chelsea manager.Demba Ba had scored a late winner in a dramatic quarter-final victory over Paris Saint-Germain as we overturned a 3-1 first-leg deficit, prompting the manager to run along the touchline in celebration, but after securing a 0-0 draw away from home against Atletico Madrid in the semi-final first leg, we were beaten 3-1 back at the Bridge.
Having finished the following season as champions, however, the defence of our title in 2015/16 began in disappointing fashion. After losing seven of our opening 14 Premier League matches, consecutive defeats against newly-promoted Bournemouth and Leicester City in December left us in 16th place in the table and the decision was made to part company with Mourinho.