This is my main Sunday Mirror column today:
Jose Mourinho, the Edith Piaf of football, doesn’t do regret.
But, in a rare reflective moment, he will acknowledge a failure to follow his instincts.
He ignored an inner voice telling him to appoint Frank Lampard as Chelsea captain.
He put it to a players’ vote, because he recognised the political dynamics of the dressing room.
The rest is history, a club defined by the bristling aggression and self-destructive certainties of John Terry.
He sees himself as a Chelsea manager in the making.
The role would represent a natural extension of his influence
Roman Abramovich, the orphan who became a billionaire in post-Communist chaos, identifies with the relentlessness of Terry’s ambition.
But, as he conducts the usual beauty pageant in the aftermath of an ugly defeat, he might be missing a trick.
If impatience, intrigue and innuendo continue to determine Chelsea’s future, everything, and nothing, will change.
Abramovich’s managers will continue to be multi-millionaire serfs, air-brushed from history with Stalinist ruthlessness.
Carlo Ancelotti won the Double without altering the culture of the club or the nature of the job.
It is no co-incidence that institutions like Liverpool and Manchester United have greater substance. They are scoured by sacrifice, shaped by men who have a taste for the game’s strange cocktail of cynicism and idealism.
Chelsea need to nurture a leader who is more than the extension of an Oligarch’s ego.
Terry’s the Regimental Sergeant Major who barks orders, bestows tough love and throws his body on the line.
Lampard is the Sandhurst type, a more strategic thinker. He’s emotionally intelligent, deceptively ruthless.
It’s time to give him the chance to become Chelsea’s answer to Kenny Dalglish.
He was 34, Lampard’s age when his current contract expires, when he became player-manager at Liverpool.
Dalglish had the strength of character and sense of purpose to cope with seismic shifts in attitudes post-Heysel.
Bob Paisley was the perfect mentor, wise and sufficiently secure in his own skin to pass over any opportunity to claim credit.
Guus Hiddink is ideally suited to play the same role for Lampard, assuming he can be lured from the twilight world of Turkish football.
At the start of the season, Lampard talked about his determination to burst the football bubble.
He feared the restrictions of his reputation, if he stayed in the game.
Alternative challenges in the property business appealed.
Like many footballers of a certain age, he found long-term injury offered a strange respite. It gave him time to think, reassess principles and priorities.
A move into management made sudden sense.
It is in his DNA.
Father Frank flourished on West Ham’s coaching staff.
Uncle Harry is Fabio Capello’s heir apparent.
Young Frank has always been a shrewd lobbyist, though we have disagreed, loudly, on the rationality of football’s rewards.
He is an object lesson to every aspiring pro each time he trains.
He speaks intelligently on a range of issues, attaches himself to appropriate causes.
He increasingly looks and sounds like a manager in waiting.
The problem is obvious.
Terry, his brother in arms, would resent any marginalisation. He defines himself by the authority he is able to wield, the example he sets so self-consciously. He is surprisingly sensitive to his public image.
He sees the reclamation of the England armband as a turning point, a chance to rebrand.
The pair are football’s Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.
That relationship was fractured beyond repair by a common cause and a shared ambition.
It was the classic contest between a bull and a matador.
The bull usually ends up on a plate with chips on the side.