Jose Mourinho is back in business.
The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss was forced into an 11-month sabbatical after being sacked by the latter.
Now he’s ready to turn stuttering Tottenham Hotspurs into the Premier League’s cat amongst the pigeons for the remainder of 2019/20 and beyond.
In recent months, Mourinho has returned to our screen as an expert in the Sky Sports studio, passing judgement on some of the biggest games of the season so far.
In an exclusive chat with RadioTimes.com, Sky Sports football presenter David Jones has lifted the lid on working with Mourinho in the weeks leading up to his top flight return.
Asked whether Mourinho was itching for a return to management, Jones revealed: “Oh, from day one – absolutely.
“I had lunch with Jose just before the start of the season because he wanted to know what we were about and I wanted to know where he was coming from and it was very clear that this is a guy who considers himself an elite manager who was purely on an enforced sabbatical.
“If truth be known, we probably had him for longer than we expected to because he was being linked with jobs from day one.
“What we were able to do on Sky was show the kind of personality and charisma he has that has drawn football clubs to him in the first place.
“What really impressed me was the detailed level of analysis, but beyond that, his ability to explain it in a simplified way that we could get, the viewers could get, and that footballers could get as well.”
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Away from the spotlight, away from the media glare, Jones is one of the few people to consistently work alongside Mourinho between management jobs, and he was quick to praise the new Spurs boss for getting stuck in with the Sky team.
Jones said: “We’re very professional when the red light is on when we have to deliver our analysis. Off-camera you see quite different aspects to personalities.
“When Mourinho joined us he was very much part of the gang, a barrel of fun. He’s very different to his on-screen persona.
“There was a slightly surreal moment when we were watching Liverpool v Man City.
“We’d done quite a heavyweight build-up, then we’ve got Roy Keane tearing up little bits of paper in the corner of the studio organising the sweepstake for us, and Jose’s trying to work out which scorelines have already gone so he can work out which scorelines he wants to pick.
“That kind of fun you have in any office or pub environment is the same we have in the studio.
“He always stressed that he wanted to be part of the team.
“I assured him I would treat him in the same way as everybody else. He sat with us, ate with us on the catering bus, he joined in that sweep with Roy Keane and everybody, he loved that camaraderie off-camera.
“But like everyone else at times I had to put him on the spot and in those moments that’s when we saw him at his best.”
Mourinho is quickly winning fans to his cause in north London following a pair of entertaining victories over West Ham and Olympiakos.
He was a shock appointment following the sudden departure of Mauricio Pochettino – just over five months since taking Spurs to the 2019 Champions League final.
Jones believes Mourinho will provide a terrific boost for the club in the short term, but fears he may hit a roadblock in the shape of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.
He said: “For me it’s a huge shock that he would choose Spurs and that Daniel Levy would choose him, knowing what strong forthright characters they both are.
“I think there will be a short-term jump, but I would think long term Jose’s going to find himself having the same problems with the squad and people out of contract as Pochettino did.
“It will be very interesting to see what happens when we get through to January, what kind of impact he’s going to have in terms of the rebuild.”
Jones will be fronting much of Sky Sports’ festive football coverage throughout December, with 46 games across the Premier League, Football League and Scottish Premiership to be aired in 33 days.
One of the showpiece matches will be Mourinho’s Tottenham hosting former protege Frank Lampard and his rampant, young Chelsea team.
It’s not one to miss, and Jones believes Mourinho will relish the chance to get one over Lampard.
“If Lampard’s able to go and win at Spurs, that would certainly show Jose! A test of The Humble One.
“Having said that, Jose would love nothing more than to go up against one of his proteges and put him in his place. That’s going to be fascinating.”
For a full round-up of festive fixtures, including Spurs v Chelsea, check out our comprehensive football at Christmas guide.