Ordinarily a manager should be allowed to bask a little after winning the Premier League. Since Jose Mourinho is neither ordinary nor liable to lie back on his laurels, the focus shifts to his future even as the title celebrations go on, the BBC reports.
For all the successes of this past season, the one ahead might yet be the defining period in Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea. Never has he stayed at a club for more than three full seasons. Never before has the third year been quite as successful as the ones that preceded it.
While a track record as good as Mourinho’s renders it all relative, the challenge is there just the same.
In 2006-07 his Chelsea side finished six points behind Manchester United in the league, even as they won both domestic cups; in 2012-13 his Real Madrid team ended 15 points off Barcelona in La Liga, with Borussia Dortmund ending his dreams of giving Real their 10th European crown with that crushing defeat in the Champions League semi-finals.
At 52 years old, Mourinho is now the same age as Sir Alex Ferguson when the Scot won the first of his 13 league titles with United back in 1993. He will need all of that youthfulness and vigor to deal with what lies ahead.
Forget for a moment the shadow of Ferguson. Mourinho’s achievements the first time around at Stamford Bridge provide their own harsh light.
He is already the only other manager to win consecutive top-flight titles in the past 30 years. To surpass the achievements of his first spell in west London he will have to win three in a row – and no-one but Ferguson has done that in almost 120 years of league football, not Herbert Chapman, Stan Cullis or Bob Paisley.
Mourinho, who rattled through six clubs in his first decade of management, is working hard to convince the doubters that he now wants to create such a dynasty.
His defining characteristics as a coach – relentless hard work, sensational man-management, an attention to critical detail on a par with Sir Dave Brailsford in cycling or Sir Clive Woodward in rugby union – make that both an alluringly novel challenge for him and within his capabilities.
But it is some target to tilt at. In the past six Premier League seasons no club has successfully defended the title.
And the challenges don’t end there – keeping happy an owner who has not only sacked him once but also got rid of the man who finally won him the Champions League he craved, keeping his own methods and tactics fresh when he is now establishment figure rather than iconoclastic outsider, keeping his own wanderlust and boredom at bay even as his predilection for making unnecessary enemies continues apace.
“He’s done all the other things – the Italian thing, the Madrid thing – and he’s too young for international football,” says Pat Nevin, former Chelsea winger and still close to those who run the club.
“That’s why he likes the idea of a dynasty. Manchester United as an option has gone away, Manchester City has slipped by too.”