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A special request for the Special One

During his time at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho was arrogant, petulant, childish, prone to speaking untruths and occasionally graceless.

He spent tens of millions of Roman Abramovich's pounds but failed to reach the Champions League final, something his successor, Avram Grant, has achieved in his first season thanks to Wednesday's semifinal second-leg victory over Liverpool.

But despite his character flaws, Mourinho is still arguably soccer's greatest character, and the game misses him immeasurably.

As the Portuguese manager approaches 226 days out of the sport, it is becoming increasingly apparent that his departure created a personality vacuum that needs to be filled. However, there is only one Mourinho and the only way to plug that gap is for the man himself to return to a dugout somewhere.

I have had enough of tired old clichs and clumsy, predictable moans about refereeing decisions.

I am sick and tired of complaints in dullard tones about injuries and the reciting of a list of imagined misfortunes.

I don't care if Mourinho goes to Inter Milan, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester City or the Columbus Crew (no offense Sigi Schmid). I just want him back.

I want to hear his hilarious press conferences when he talks about everything from bird flu to parking busses to omelettes and eggs.

I want to hear about him getting involved in all sorts of bizarre episodes, like when he was arrested by U.K. police after running away from cops who came to his house and tried to take away his family's Yorkshire Terrier on a suspected quarantine violation.

I want to see him waving and gesticulating, winding up opponents and parading his gigantic ego on a weekly basis.

The good news is that Mourinho seems to be gearing up for a return to soccer. For the past seven months he has remained largely out of the spotlight, preferring to spend time with the family and his Chelsea payoff.

But now, he is on something of a campaign trail, conducting interviews and making sure his face is about. For certain, he will be at the forefront on the favorites list for any major vacant managerial role this summer, as his reputation and pedigree begets.

Soccer at its highest level is a tough and ruthless business. Results on the field dramatically affect the finances of those involved and the lives of the fans.

Mourinho realized as well as anyone the importance of his role, but he never ceased to entertain, whether his words were intended for comedy purposes or to get into the minds of his opponents.

Grant, a subdued and serious man, will never be labeled as a great entertainer. Despite leading his team back into the Premiership title hunt, he has never been fully accepted by Chelsea supporters, who refuse to sing or chant his name. He sank to his knees following Wednesday's semifinal win but was not engulfed by his players in the way Mourinho would have.

While he was in charge in west London, opposing fans loved to hate Mourinho. Yet the public clamored for him to be installed as England boss when Steve McClaren was kicked out was fervent.

And now, he is remembered fondly by most. Even supporters of hated rivals such as Arsenal, Tottenham and Fulham wish for the return of the man with the nerve to call himself the "Special One" and the style to pull it off.

The Setanta video puppet and comedy songs are not enough any more.

Come back Jose, all is forgiven.