Jose Mourinho expects to be hired as Chelsea coach by the end of the week, confirming widespread speculation that he's set to return to the London club.

"I can't speak as Chelsea's coach because I am not it yet,'' Mourinho told Spanish television program Punto Pelota.

"(But) I will go to London and between Monday and the end of the week I will be the new coach of Chelsea.''

Mourinho coached Chelsea from 2004-08. He will replace interim coach Rafa Benitez at the London club.

Jumping the gun

Mourinho's reunion with Chelsea has been expected for weeks, and the English Premier League's official website mistakenly published a story on Sunday with the headline "Jose Mourinho makes Chelsea return,'' saying a deal had been completed. The league later withdrew the story and apologised to Chelsea.

The 50-year-old Portuguese manager leaves Madrid after three seasons in which he won one Copa del Rey and one Spanish league, but brought home no major titles this season.

Madrid club president Florentino Perez freed Mourinho from the remaining three years on his contract after the team suffered their first loss in 14 years to crosstown rival Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey final. Madrid had already been eliminated from the semi-finals of the Champions League for a third straight campaign under Mourinho, and they never challenged Barcelona for the Spanish league crown.

His final campaign at Madrid was marked by internal strife between Mourinho and his players, including his unpopular benching of captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Mourinho said he is returning to his old club because he was happy there.

I hope to be Chelsea's new coach. I would like to be it because I was happy in London and I feel that the people there love me. Life is beautiful and short, and in life you have to seek out what you think is best for you.

Jose Mourinho,

"I hope to be Chelsea's new coach,'' he said.

"I would like to be it because I was happy in London and I feel that the people there love me. Life is beautiful and short, and in life you have to seek out what you think is best for you.''

Under Mourinho, Chelsea won the English league in 2005 and 2006 and the FA Cup in 2007.

Divided opinion

Mourinho was Madrid's longest-serving coach for a decade, but he left its fan base sharply divided. He was jeered by large sections of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd in his last game on Saturday, while his most die-hard fans cheered him on to the very end.

His legacy in Spain will likely be split as well. As Perez recognised even in their parting, Mourinho made Madrid a perennial contender in the Champions League again after it struggled for years to reach the final rounds.

On the other hand, Mourinho's abrasive tactics led to unseemly squabbles both inside and outside the club. His infamous eye-poke of then Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova during a melee between the teams' players will go down as his most outlandish antic.

Popular with fans and media alike in England - in stark contrast to his many fraught relationships in Spain - Mourinho appears to have repaired his relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to make a return to Stamford Bridge.

And despite his combative and oversized personality, Mourinho is one of football's most successful coaches.

After winning both the Portuguese league and Champions League with Porto in 2004, Mourinho introduced himself as the "Special One'' on being hired by Abramovich at Chelsea. He didn't disappoint when he brought Chelsea its first league title in 50 years in 2005.

He left in Chelsea in September 2007 and joined Inter in June 2008. He guided Inter to two Serie A titles, two Italian Cups, and his second Champions League title in 2010 before taking over Madrid.

Source: AP