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Should you ever go back? Find out why Mourinho’s return might be a mixed blessing

by Aidan Elder | June 5, 2013
Mourinho and Michael Ballack in the middle of one of their famous 'pout-offs'

Mourinho and Michael Ballack in the middle of one of their famous ‘pout-offs’

By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer

‘You should never go back’ is one cliché that’s been trotted out a lot this week as Jose Mourinho was confirmed as the latest Chelsea sacking waiting to happen. Like a relationship that didn’t seem so utterly hideous in retrospect or watching any Adam Sandler movie more than once, going back doesn’t always work out.

If you enjoyed success the first time around, anything else is just going to be a disappointment, isn’t it? With the Special One, we can’t be too sure and the mixed bag of results from these five managers who went back to previous jobs should explain why.

Don't over-react Fabio, in a few years you'll have to pretend Stephen Warnock could be part of a World Cup winning squad

Don’t over-react Fabio, in a few years you’ll have to pretend Stephen Warnock could be part of a World Cup winning squad

Fabio Capello

(Real Madrid 1996-97 & 2006-07)
Capello has basically built a career on going back to former employers. On top of playing for Milan, he had three separate stints as a manager and also managed Roma and Juventus after playing for them. Arguably His most notable return was at Real Madrid as he tried to turn a later generation of Galacticos into winners rather than expensive mannequins used mainly to sell jerseys.

First time around
His defensive style was ill-suited to the unrealistic expectations of the Real supports, but he still managed to win the La Liga title by combining the attacking threat of Roberto Carlos with the formidable strike force of Suker, Raul and Mijatovic.

When he went back
He won a league despite being highly unpopular and unsuited to the unrealistic expectations of the Real supporters.

Verdict: It was always going to be a hiding to nothing, but he still prospered in difficult circumstances.

'Hands up who's not sure why I agreed to come back'

‘Hands up who’s not sure why I agreed to come back’

Kevin Keegan

(Newcastle 1992-97 & 2008)
Score some goals for Newcastle and they’ll metaphorically fellate you for life. It doesn’t even really matter if those goals result in any actual silverware. Towards the end of his career, Keegan smacked a load of goals in for the Magpies and that was enough to get him the manager’s job almost a decade later despite having zero experience.

First time around
The early to mid 1990s were halcyon days for Newcastle. PJ and Duncan were riding high in the pop charts, Jimmy Nail was considered some sort of Geordie renaissance man and the football team were resurgent after Kevin Keegan guided them back into the top flight before using all his skill to manoeuvre the team into a position where they could throw away a league title. All in all, a very successful, enjoyable and tactically naïve first stint in charge.

When he went back
After the authoritarianism, rigid adherence to tactics and grievous bodily harm of the Big Sam era, Kevin Keegan was brought in to provide the antidote. Initially his ‘tactics are a kind of small sweet’ attitude was a breath of fresh air, but even living in Nottingham would seem nice if you’d spent most of your life in captivity. He left eight months later after reports that Mike Ashley wouldn’t finance the spending on high class players who could cover up Keegan’s tactical ineptitude.

Verdict: His first spell was a lot of fun and provided that hi-larious ‘I would love it’ rant so second time round was never going to live up to that.

The jacket went on to further success, starring alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst in awful sitcom, Goodnight Sweetheart

The jacket went on to further success, starring alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst in awful sitcom, Goodnight Sweetheart

Kenny Dalglish

(Liverpool 1985 – 1991 & 2011-12)
As a player, he was a Liverpool legend, amassing goals and a collection of medals that even Roy Race would consider to be too fanciful. Six league titles, three European Cups, four League Cups, two FA Cups – it would practically be illegal not to give him a chance at managing the club.

First time around
Despite having no experience, Dalglish maintained the high standards of the Paisley and Fagan eras. By cleverly getting his team to drink slightly less than the other drunkards that made up a lot of the 1980s English top flight teams, the Anfield club dominated domestic football in the late 80s. Sadly, the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster placed too much strain on Dalglish who worked tirelessly to provide comfort to the victims’ families.

When he went back
The goodwill towards King Kenny for his post-Hillsborough work and memories of the glory years meant that despite being out of management for over ten years, most fans he was worth a shot. After Roy Hodgson brought in Paul Konchesky, anything seems like a good idea in comparison. An encouraging start saw him get the job permanently. He won the league cup in that season, but it shows you how much people care about it that it couldn’t earn him another season in the role. And neither could an FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea.

Verdict: It was worth a shot and despite showing some promise, there wasn’t enough evidence of progress.

It really takes something special for Harry to be considered the eye candy in any picture, but this might just do it

It really takes something special for Harry to be considered the eye candy in any picture, but this might just do it


Harry Redknapp

(Portsmouth 2002-2004 & 2005-2008)
Harry’s reputation as a wheeler-dealer who could get results with a cheque-book and an owner who didn’t ask too many questions was established during his stint at West Ham. Moving to Portsmouth – a club with the vibrant support, rich history and slightly deluded sense of where they belong in the pecking order seemed like a similar challenge.

First time around
Redknapp was appointed to the always vague position of ‘Director of football’ at Fratton Park in 2001 and all that enjoying post-match finger-food and laughing at the owner’s not especially funny jokes paid off when he got the nod as manager in March 2002. He kept the club in the Championship (Division One in old money) that season and next season they went up to the Premier League as champions. He kept them up before an argument with Milan Mandaric over who was more of a ‘geezer’* resulted in his resignation towards the end of 2004.

*this may not be true. It may have been down to a difference of opinion over Harry’s assistant, Jim Smith

When he went back
Harry pissed off pretty much everyone on the south coast with his bed-hopping from Pompey to Southampton back to Pompey again. According to then Southampton chairman, Rupert Lowe, Redknapp saw Portsmouth as his ‘spiritual home’ – possibly because of the club’s shared fondness for dubious accounting practices. On the field, things went well with Redknapp getting them up the Premier League table and winning an FA Cup. We wouldn’t comment on the financial dealings off the pitch, but suffice to say, the club now count David Connolly as a marquee signing.

Verdict: The return was a resounding success. Providing he never wants to go for a drink in Southampton ever again.

Louis van Gaal's tie tries to calm down some El Clasico anger

Louis van Gaal’s tie tries to calm down some El Clasico anger

Louis van Gaal

(Barcelona 1997-2000 & 2002-03)
The Dutchman’s reputation was soaring thanks to a mega successful start to his managerial career at Ajax winning three league titles, one European Cup and a host of other titles you’d probably care about if you were Dutch. In 1997, he got the call to manage Barcelona.

First time around
Van Gaal enjoyed success with Barcelona, winning two La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey, but he didn’t get along with a lot of the players, notably Rivaldo who thought he was too good to have to do much running. He also didn’t like the media, feeling they made very little effort with their puns on his name. Oh well – you win some, you Louis some.

When he went back
This was just a really bad idea along the lines of getting Tulisa to organise your coke deal. He left after six months in charge with Barcelona being so far behind Real that they couldn’t even use their smug sense of superiority that occasionally masks their lack of results.

Verdict: He probably shouldn’t have gone back, but when Jason McAteer has pretty much knocked you out of World Cup qualification, you probably can’t help feeling things can only get better.

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