Jose Mourinho
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. Reuters

The old adage remains true: Never go back. Just ask Kevin Keegan. But for Jose Mourinho, a man seldom interested in observing the principles of football management, the clamour for his return to Chelsea could prove overwhelming.

That is certainly the view of former Blues defender turned ITV pundit Andy Townsend, who believes the 'Special One' is the only manager who can help Chelsea compete with Manchester United and Manchester City at the head of the Premier League table.

Five managers have cycled through Stamford Bridge since Mourinho left in 2007. Luminaries as vaunted as World Cup winner Luiz Scolari, six-time Dutch league winner Guus Hiddink, and two-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti all found it impossible to sate the desires of Chelsea's trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich.

And Townsend, who spent three years at Chelsea in the early '90s, insists the only salve for the club's ongoing managerial conundrum is to fight tooth-and-claw to bring Mourinho back from Spain at the end of the season.

"There is one man for this now, one person who can match Fergie's strategic genius and Manchester City's spending power," Townsend is quoted in the Daily Mail.

"Chelsea need their swagger back. They need Jose Mourinho - their Dark Lord - prowling the touchline and orchestrating the play, loving the players back to form. They need the return of the Special One."

Mourinho left Chelsea in 2007 by "mutual consent" following a series of disagreements with Abramovich, particularly over the club's purchase of Andriy Shevchenko. But Townsend insists past differences will be easily put aside, should the current Real Madrid manager express an interest in the returning.

"He will need to repair his relationship with Roman Abramovich," Townsend added. "But he can make it up to him with a trophy. Or two. There is no better cure for this group of players, who seem to lack direction and focus.

"Chelsea would have to wait until the end of the season for the Real Madrid whirlwind. They will have to swallow pride and stand by for more mischief and mayhem.

"But this is the man who once stormed into the shower and told a naked Frank Lampard he was the best midfielder in the world (and then watched his goals win titles and medals).

"He is an empire-building, master man-manager and a winner who will demand money to construct a new Chelsea. He can do it, though. And Manchester knows it. Go on Roman, you know you want to."