José Mourinho on Thursday agreed to a £12 million payoff as compensation for his dramatic departure from Chelsea, but he is already planning his return to football. Mourinho told The Times he is waiting by the phone and hopes to get back to work as soon as possible.
Tottenham Hotspur have already privately declared their interest in a man who won six trophies during three unforgettable years at Stamford Bridge, although it is unlikely that the Portuguese would accept an offer to stay in London at White Hart Lane. “I’m going to enjoy my life, I’m going to wait for the telephone calls,” Mourinho said. “I want to work.”
He later released a statement that read: “I am very proud of my work at Chelsea. I want to thank all Chelsea supporters for what I believe is a never-ending love story. I wish great success to the club.”
[“From a professional and personal point of view, I’m feeling great,” he said on Friday in an interview with Portuguese state broadcaster RTP, according to an AP report. “I’m glad to have left. I’m glad to have left.”]
Chelsea acted swiftly to move on from the controversy surrounding Mourinho’s exit — along with the bulk of his coaching staff — by announcing Avram Grant as his replacement on a full-time basis. It is understood that they are also considering offering Jamie Redknapp a coaching position.
The club is conscious of the need to regain some goodwill from fans angered by Mourinho’s departure and believe that Redknapp, the former England midfield player, would bring some glamour and Premier League experience. But it may take more than that to appease those who gathered outside Stamford Bridge last night to register their protest at the departure of the “Special One”.
Chelsea’s main problem will be rebuilding the confidence of players who are shocked and saddened by the treatment of Mourinho and Grant has much work to do to win over a sceptical dressing-room.
As the 52-year-old has not held a club job for five years and never managed a team outside Israel, such doubts over his suitability are understandable. However, having been on £1 million a year, he will enjoy a healthy salary increase in his new role, though he will have to go into his first match, against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, without Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, who were ruled out on Thursday.
Mourinho was given an emotional send-off after his final visit to the training ground early on Thursday. Lampard and Drogba were moved to tears when it came to saying goodbye.
Not all of Chelsea’s squad will be sad to see him go, however, with Andriy Shevchenko understood to be positively delighted and Joe Cole experiencing an element of relief.