So often, seen only in retrospect. Take Busby’s Manchester United: a 2-0 defeat in the San Siro against Inter in 1969, in a European Cup semi-final, is followed by many, many years of entirely unlooked-for disaster, mediocrity and decline. Another 2-0 defeat, this time for Leeds United in the 1975 European Cup Final, spelt the definitive end of the greatest club side of its generation, perhaps of any generation.
Was this Chelsea’s end-game?
Or had it already been signalled earlier, in Jose Mourinho’s ambivalent reaction immediately after the 2006 title decider against Manchester United?
That, of course, followed this…
and somehow, one felt, that the ground had shifted from underneath the Chelsea boss. Left to his own devices, in all likelihood, Mourinho would have brought unprecedented success to Chelsea whatever Wenger or Ferguson came up with. He wasn’t, not at all, and there are aspects to his behaviour after 2005-6 that one didn’t see prior to that, aspects that spoke of a fundamental change to the way Mourinho saw both his current world and his likely future.
I’m reminded of Tony Blair 1997 versus Tony Blair 2007 in these two photographs:
To be continued…