Chelsea players would welcome back Jose Mourinho as manager Chelsea squad eager to resume previous winning form Move would depend on healing Roman Abramovich rift Dominic Fifield The Guardian, Tuesday 7 April Senior Chelsea players would welcome the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge in the summer should the club fail to retain the services of their temporary coach Guus Hiddink beyond the end of the season. Mourinho is expected to leave Internazionale after a year in Italy, most likely with a Serie A title to his name but having failed to his primary objective of bring the European Cup to San Siro following elimination at the hands of Manchester United. The Portuguese privately craves a return to the Premier League, having seen his glittering reign at Stamford Bridge terminated abruptly in September 2007 after the high-profile fracture of his relationship with the club's owner, Roman Abramovich. He has made no secret of his admiration for the club since, with that mutual respect mirrored among the playing staff. The squad with whom he worked at Chelsea remains largely intact and, according to a source within the dressing room, *influential members of the team would favour his re-appointment in the hope that the self-styled "Special One" can emulate the success that brought two Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup to the London club and established him as the most successful manager in their history. There is an acceptance that his return would require Abramovich swallowing his pride, the Russian having grown weary of Mourinho's abrasive, outspoken manner and frequent brushes with controversy during his previous time at Stamford Bridge, which amounted to a little over three seasons. Yet Chelsea have not won a trophy since he departed although they retain faint hope in the Premier League this term and realistic aspirations in the FA Cup and Champions League and are set to be searching for a fourth manager in 20 months after Hiddink's brief tenure comes to an end in May. The Dutchman was hired in February to replace Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose seven-month spell at the club was curtailed with the Chelsea hierarchy alarmed by the team's stuttering form and fearful of a finish outside the top four which would jeopardise their long-term project. Hiddink was duly asked to combine his duties with the Russia national side and his impact has been immediate. He has won seven of his nine games in charge and faces Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals tomorrow at Anfield. However, according to the source, Abramovich has made it clear to senior players that it would be "politically difficult" to prise him from the Russian federation on a full-time basis, a stance that Hiddink, too, has consistently maintained since assuming the reins. Russia won their recent World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein, the first games they have played since the head coach took up dual duties, but still trail Germany by four points albeit with a game in hand in Group Four. That leaves them with five further qualifiers to be played with double-headers in September and October, when Germany are due in Moscow, and a potential play-off in November to determine whether they reach South Africa. Should they fail in that task then Hiddink may secure release from the remainder of his contract, though it seems unlikely that he will be permitted or, perhaps more critically, would wish to combine duties potentially for the first four months of next season. There remains the possibility of Hiddink assuming a senior role at Stamford Bridge at some point in the future and he could yet play a significant part in appointing his successor. His compatriot Frank Rijkaard, currently on sabbatical since his departure from Barcelona, is available and keen to be considered. Yet Mourinho, popular among supporters and players alike, would represent an intriguing alternative. The Portuguese has taken Internazionale nine points clear at the top of Serie A, though that achievement has been tarnished by their exit from the Champions League in the first knock-out phase. The 46-year-old has endured a troubled relationship with his fellow managers, referees and the media in Italy and feels he has not been embraced with the same warmth afforded to him during his time in England. That has added to his desire to return to the Premier League and he has been strongly linked with Manchester City should Mark Hughes be removed at the end of the season. Yet it is understood that he would be reluctant to take up the position at Eastlands, despite the potential of unlimited funds being at the manager's disposal courtesy of the club's owners, the Abu Dhabi United group.