It seems certain that Jose Mourinho will return to Stamford Bridge this summer. Reports are flying in thick and fast, from his wage demands of £12 million a year (per the Metro) to his desire to bring Cristiano Ronaldo with him (per The Guardian), and the love affair between the British press and Mourinho has begun again in earnest.
The Chelsea fans are also desperate to see the return of the manager who won back-to-back Premier League titles, as well as two League Cups and the FA Cup, in his three full seasons at the club. What remains unclear is how the current players would respond to the reappointment of the man who built the squad they are slowly replacing.
Mourinho took charge of Chelsea when the club was undergoing a monumental transition. The Blues had won their first trophy for 27 years in 1997 and were gaining momentum; however, in 2003 there was still much uncertainty about the future of the club both on and off the pitch.
The arrival of Roman Abramovich relieved the financial crisis, but in terms of the status of key squad members, Chelsea are in a very similar position at the moment. The difference is that this time the process of rebuilding has already begun, most notably with the additions of David Luiz and the Three Amigos as the foundation for the future.
It is highly unlikely that Fernando Torres will still be a Chelsea player at the start of the 2013-14 season, a factor which will allow a real tactician to experiment with an elite squad of exceptional potential. A change to the 4-2-3-1 formation that Chelsea have stuck to so rigidly this season will breathe new life into the squad, with variations on a 4-3-3 holding the most promise.
Mourinho won the Champions League with Inter Milan using a 4-2-1-3 formation, a tactic that the current Chelsea squad would fit into perfectly.
If the rumours about Ronaldo turn out to be right, he would join Eden Hazard and Juan Mata in the front three. However, in the likely event that it turns out to be part of the Mourinho media circus, Romelu Lukaku would work just as well. They would have support from Oscar just behind them, with the option to rotate David Luiz, John Obi Mikel, Nathan Ake and Ramires in the holding two.
Cesar Azpilicueta has exceeded expectations at right-back this season, and Ashley Cole's contract extension will see him alternate with Ryan Bertrand on the left.
Mourinho would need to solidify the centre of defence, but he had the same job to do when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge. He was successful then, as Chelsea kept a clean sheet in 63 percent of their Premier League-winning campaign of 2004-05, conceding 15 goals in the process. If he could produce a similar result should he return to the Blues, he would exceed even his own assessment of himself as "The Special One."