Surely just a matter of time before the apparent heir becomes king at Old Trafford

Football
FanCast columnist
Alec
Fenn
feels that when Fergie does decide
to call it a day then the Utd board should look no further than Jose Mourinho.

A match made in heaven
often conjures up images of strawberries and cream, salt and vinegar or even
fish and chips. But surely there can be no greater match than Jose
Mourinho and Manchester United. When Sir Alex Ferguson eventually leaves
Old Trafford, it can be no ordinary man that replaces the most successful
manager in British football history.

It will take charisma and
style, somebody sophisticated and suave and an ego and a swagger capable of
nurturing 75,000 supporters off the Alex Ferguson drug that has made Manchester
United an addiction to so many for the past 20 years. Numerous suspects
have been mentioned, the likes of Arsene Wenger and Fabio Capello, or domestic
candidates such as David Moyes or Martin O'Neill. Yet there appears to be
something in the air that will eventually guide Mourinho to the Old Trafford
hot seat.

When an unknown Portuguese
upstart came dancing down the touchline at the Theatre of Dreams five years
ago, English football cannot have imagined what had just struck them. The
‘Special One' had arrived and with him an ego large enough to swell the largest
of footballing stadia. But the man from Setubal was not without
substance. Behind the arrogance and confidence was a CV that would be the
envy of the vast majority of the world's football managers, past and
present.

After successful spells at
both Benfica and Leiria it was Porto where Mourinho would make his name.
After winning the Portuguese championship, domestic cup and Uefa Cup in the
2002-2003 season, he then followed up this remarkable feat with success deemed
impossible in the modern game.

Winning the Champions
League with the richest clubs in the top leagues in Europe is of the utmost
difficulty, but to win it with a side on a pauper's budget competing in one of
the weakest leagues in Europe is a near impossibility. But in utilising
the talent available and instilling the confidence and steel in players such as
Deco, Ricardo Carvalho and making the most of the scarce resources available,
Mourinho was able to mastermind an incredible achievement, defeating Manchester
United and Lyon en route to the final and paving his way to Stamford Bridge.

Of course there are those
who claim Mourinho's style is too bland, too conservative to win over the
United faithful, fed a diet of fast-flowing attacking football. But
despite those who point to his fondness of dynamic physical players, a la
Makelele and Essien, Mourinho was also responsible for recruiting the cavalier
talents of Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba and Damien Duff. The statistics
certainly don't lie, though, in winning the Premier League title in the
2005/2006 season Mourinho's Chelsea amassed a massive 91 points, scoring 72
goals in the process, the same as Sir Alex Ferguson's ‘cavalier' side that
boasted the creative talents of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

Over a managerial career
spanning more than 20 years, nobody has stood toe-to-toe with the Manchester
United gaffer, until Mourinho. In 12 games against the special one, the
Scot has the unenviable record of just one win and having secured back -to –
back Premiership titles at Chelsea the Portuguese certainly has the match of
his potential predecessor. He also boasts an incredible unbeaten sequence
of 111 undefeated home games spanning more than 7 years and three different
clubs, something unrivalled by any other manager in the world.

As
Mourinho gazed out of a director's box at the grandeur and splendour that is
Old Trafford in a recent scouting mission, you could see it in his eyes, a man
that thrives in the spotlight and who craves the biggest stage in the
world. There can be no bigger stage than Manchester United; it is surely
just a matter of time before the apparent heir to the throne becomes king at
Old Trafford.