Should Chelsea be worried? Never go back? A closer look

Jose Mourinho’s long-awaited return to Chelsea flies in the face of all logic – be it in football or in personal relationships, the general rule for life is never to go back to an ex. Mourinho’s new four-year contract is an extraordinary commitment, one that many suspect will not last the duration, but the intention is clear – things will be different this time, they promise! Let’s have a look at some managers that tried to re-create the old magic.

Kevin Keegan – The curly-haired Messiah returned to Newcastle with a much greyer head for a second spell in January 2008. His return was a similarly populist move by a board eager to please fans – After Allardyce’s sacking, this was Mike Ashley’s first managerial appointment, and he sought to push all the right buttons by bringing back the fans’ knight in shining armour.

Eight games without a win proved a bumpy re-introduction to life on Tyneside, but a rousing end to the campaign secured safety, and had fans dreaming of a reprisal of the mid-90s glory years. Instead, what they got was a reprisal of the tears, with a September fall-out and ensuing resignation reviving memories of Keegan’s questionable mental state when the going got tough. Keegan was eventually to win his case for constructive dismissal, and his successors contrived to take a competitive squad to relegation, but the history books will remember his return as a failure.

Kenny Dalglish – Some Liverpool fans will have taken great pleasure at the fall of their one-time rivals from Tyneside, but their owners made the same mistakes, bringing Dalglish back. His own role was initially due to be a temporary one, after the departure of Roy Hodgson, but fan pressure led to his return being made permanent.

If you ignore league form, King Kenny’s full season in charge was a rip-roaring success, with Liverpool winning the League Cup and reaching the final of the FA Cup. However, eighth place in the league, and the worst home record for 50 years proved unsatisfactory for the owners, and Dalglish’s second spell came to an end with two years left on his contract.

Walter Smith – His return to Rangers was one of the main examples of a successful re-uniting. Seven straight titles between 1991 and 1998 were obviously going to be impossible to top, but a further three titles in four years cemented his legacy as one of Rangers’ greatest ever managers.

While the naysayers may argue that the Scottish league is hardly the best barometer for such things, it is clear that some managerial returns can be worthwhile.

Tony Pulis – As the dust settles on his sacking from Stoke, it is easy to forget that their most successful years in decades were borne out of a second spell for Pulis. The ultimate promotion to the Premier League came early into this return, which perhaps suggests that it is best not to do too well first time around – the old trick of lowering expectations. Of course, it is also easy to forget that many did not want Pulis back, for the same reason as his departure was not exactly mourned..

Undoubtedly though, Pulis made his second term worthwhile. Will Mourinho do the same?