Jose Mourinho fell out with a lot of people while in charge of Real Madrid, but president Florentino Perez was not one of them.
By the time the Portuguese left the Santiago Bernabeu in 2013, his relationship with key players in the dressing room was in tatters.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Pepe and Sergio Ramos had fallen out with the coach, who believed they were scheming against him.
But president Perez believed in Mourinho and even though he left by mutual consent, the Madrid chief would have liked him to stay beyond his third year.
And every time he has appointed a manager since, Mourinho has not been far from his mind. Perez has never hidden his desire to bring back the current Manchester United manager.
Of the dressing room heavyweights he upset, only Ramos remains, one stopping block against recent stories that Madrid are considering hiring Mourinho again in the summer.
Although Santiago Solari was handed a three-year contract in November there is talk that Madrid will let the Argentine see the season through and then find a proper replacement in the summer – Mourinho.
Given his tenure in the Spanish capital ended in acrimony, it may seem surprising to some that Mourinho may resurface, especially after a largely disappointing spell in charge of Manchester United, where it appears he is losing another dressing room.
No longer is he the uniting force behind the scenes that creates an ‘us against the world’ struggle which his players respond to. Now Mourinho just seems to battle directly with them, an approach which unsurprisingly has borne little fruit.
Mourinho is no longer successful, no longer admired, no longer the quietly confident and cheekily arrogant coach that impressed at Porto, Chelsea and Inter.
Why would Madrid want him back? Perez is his main advocate, but what is driving the Madrid president towards a man who nearly ripped the club apart half a decade ago?
Madrid have rarely looked as good domestically as they did in the 2011-12 season when they won 32 out of 38 games, losing just twice and scoring a record 100 points.
Mourinho put the cat among the pigeons and even if his time battling with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona contributed to his own downfall, his loss of grace and what class he had, Perez noted that he had a coach who knew how to spar with what is still widely considered the best club side ever.
While the Barca-Madrid rivalry was overheated in that era, Perez would prefer that to the current state of play which has the Catalans dominating Los Blancos domestically.
Real Madrid have still been successful in Europe, winning three consecutive Champions League trophies, but they have been fortunate not to meet Barcelona in that time in the competition.
With Guardiola long gone and the calm, unthreatening Valverde at the helm of Barcelona, Mourinho would be less likely to set the two clubs at all-out war if he returned.
Perez will also look at the league table and see that there is not a single outstanding side in the division. Although Solari has enjoyed a decent start, if an experienced world-class coach was in charge of Madrid maybe they would be able to muscle their way to the front of the pack.
Other coaches turned Madrid down in the summer and Perez had to turn to Julen Lopetegui, who was not one of his top choices for the position. Unlike the former Spain coach, who suffered a brief and calamitous reign this year, Mourinho is a known quantity.
Parts of Real Madrid’s fan base would welcome him back with open arms – after all, Mourinho won the Premier League title when he returned to Chelsea in the 2014-15 season – although other supporters still remember the trouble he caused in the Spanish capital.
If Perez does hire Mourinho again he knows by now that the Portuguese will not be at the Bernabeu for a long time, but there is likely to be some good times along the way.
However, without the president’s rose-tinted glasses, bringing back Mourinho could easily do more harm than good.
It is hard to imagine him reconciling with captain Ramos and a Mourinho comeback might end up forcing the Spaniard to look for a new home in the United States or another lucrative spot.
In addition,El Pais say that former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois verbally expressed his dismay at the idea of Mourinho or Antonio Conte coming to the club.
Furthermore, Real Madrid players tend to work better with less prescriptive coaches like Zindine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti, rather than strict managers like Rafa Benitez and Lopetegui. Mourinho would fall firmly in the latter category and under intense media scrutiny, the situation could soon turn problematic.
On paper Mourinho would be a surprising and negative appointment for Real Madrid, but the halcyon days and scraps with Barca appeal to president Perez, who wants to see his team regain ground in the eternal battle with their arch-rivals.