Happy days are here again. Never mind that throughout the entire decidedly low-key hour of his re-unveiling at Stamford Bridge José Mourinho – sober-suited, wary, familiarly insolent – was more Mr Cunningham than The Fonz. And never mind that despite José himself mentioning the word "happy" 22 times – mainly through what were either gritted teeth or simply the whirring, clanking levers inside that fine-boned jaw attempting once again to rearrange themselves into a smile after the horrors of Madrid – he didn't actually look happy at any stage.
The point is, everybody here is happy. In particular José himself, sitting at the head of the table like a disappointed dad grimly insisting that everybody, everybody in this family, is going to get on from now on.
He just didn't actually look it - although no doubt that will come and there was enough here in his exploratory jabs and nips at his fellow Premier League managers to suggest the season will deliver the required adversarial drama. Plus of course even for José, who during the working season employs the press conference as a kind of pre-emptive artillery barrage, this must have seemed a strangely hollow, massively important event, a muscular and mob-handed furore that was in effect entirely pointless given Mourinho has no match to prepare for, no plan in place, hasn't met his players and isn't likely to tell you about it anyway, even if he had. "My enemies read tomorrow's newspapers," he said at one point (his enemies are, of course, disastrously Old Media).
In the event this was simply a chance to come and see José in the act of being José. Plus, of course, to marvel at the mini-phenomenon of the unveiling itself, not so much an unveiling here as an unveilingist, an unveilingissimo. You could tell it was important because Chelsea's dedicated unveiling room had been vastly expanded for the occasion and was basically unrecognisable from that cramped and frowsy half-suite in which Rafael Benítez had been hastily dumped on the doorstep like a parcel left for the neighbours. It was at the far end of this low-ceilinged amphitheatre, past the cookie stalls and coffee points, the triple-layered TV cameras, that José's plinth had been installed for an occasion limited to just 250 very special invited guests.
It had all started promisingly enough. Mourinho looked familiarly well-groomed and lithe entering stage left to a massed whirr of photo flashes. Gone was the frazzled bouffant, the shell suit, the sense of something slightly ragged and unbound. Neatly coutured, hair razored into a squash-playing junior executive buzz cut, this was a pointedly revivified Mourinho. He did the greatest hits too, up to a point. "I am … the happy one," he announced, to a hormonal tremor around the room, getting his headline soundbite in roughly five seconds into what would become a rather gruelling hour.
Indeed, after these early gains Mourinho remained pretty much stuck in wise, plausible, divorced-dad mode. His previous departure was "a sad moment … It was difficult for both of us … I need a special family, which I have," he said at one point, and it was a shock to realise he was talking about his actual family now, not the Chelsea physio or the barman in the Spackman lounge. And as the questions swirled on, flitting about the usual wider themes of personality and eras and general issues of José-ness, it was tempting to wonder how this really is all going to end.
Beforehand it had been tempting to see the re-enthroning of José 2.0 as similar to the moment in a soap opera when a once popular character is dredged up from the bottom of some fictional canal to make an ill-fated ratings-boosting return.
The Premier League has had a scratchy kind of feel to it of late, illuminated only by departures, and Mourinho's A-list silhouette has been grasped at hungrily by those with an interest above all in the obfuscating operetta. And yet, somehow watching Mourinho drone on, looking by the end rather small and fuzzy, a vulnerable, meerkat-ish figure, it was hard not to wonder a little.
Who wants all this, really? It feels, at times, as though the football media – and indeed the fans: somebody out there is reading this stuff – have become stuck within a rather damaging cycle of entropic and peripheral inanity. At Stamford Bridge, as the endless minutes crawled by and the basic irreducible fact of José's incredible happiness was ever more sombrely sketched out – you wondered why he hadn't just come out and sung a song about it, or leapt up on his plinth and danced like nobody was watching – there was a terrible dawning fear that perhaps this would never end, that English football, which is essentially an ongoing conversation about José Mourinho spiced with the occasional distraction of some actual matches, had found here an inescapable moment of stasis, a screen-freezing overload of pure José excitement.
And, really, what could he say here? Last time round Mourinho was lucky at Chelsea, inheriting a burgeoning spine that required only Didier Drogba – a candidate for signing of the decade – to be winched into place at its head. Here there was again an encouraging nod to the armature of an excellent team already in place, to the fact that nobody – not even "John", as he is referred to here – is indispensable. And to the fact that there are some key textural decisions to be made about the basic question of where the real heart of Mourinho 2.0 is going to locate itself.
There are no answers to any of this now. But as Mourinho loped off at the end of a day where the unveiling was the story, where the scale of the fuss was really the scale of the fuss, it was just about possible to glimpse the outline of the wider, and far more interesting, story to come.