You just never know with Jose Mourinho.
Talk of replacing Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United has been going on for months. A six page missive is supposed to have been sent to Ed Woodward, while contacts have clearly been putting in a good word here and there and then public declarations of ignorance all keep Jose in the spotlight. It’s all good PR.
Mourinho is expected to take over from Louis van Gaal in the summer despite no official announcement being made as yet and an Old Trafford overhaul is likely to take place.
It seems almost a done deal for Mourinho to be packing his kit bag for Manchester, but if he isn’t, the Red Devils will have to shell out compensation for not appointing him – it’s claimed. If a deal isn’t done before May 1, United will have to pay Mourinho a staggering £5m. And if he’s still not signed by June 1, they will have to hand over another £10m.
So, is he really going there or is this all a ploy to keep the ‘Special One’ in the public awareness, or at least in front of the footballing community? Is this a camouflage for a detour to Spain, Italy or somewhere else in the Premier League?
Real Madrid had considered moving for Mourinho themselves and contacted Jorge Mendes about bringing him back. The timing wasn’t right, but whispers among the Madrid hierarchy make it seem as though it could be Zinedine Zidane out and Mourinho back in. That will surely upset players like Cristiano Ronaldo, whose relationship with the Portuguese mastermind is at its lowest ebb.
In his three years at the Bernabeu, Mourinho won La Liga: 2011–12, Copa del Rey: 2010–11 and the Supercopa de España: 2012. Following the 2013 Copa del Rey Final loss to Atlético Madrid on 17 May, Mourinho called the 2012–13 season “the worst of my career“. Three days later, Real president Florentino Pérez announced Mourinho would leave the club at the end of the season by mutual agreement, a year after signing a contract extension to 2016 and so it was back to Stamford Bridge.
Real could be a destination, but then so could another previous club, Inter. Current boss Roberto Mancini is not having the greatest of times and a number of alternatives have been mentioned. Mourinho?
In a two year spell which ended after winning the Champions League, he left Inter for Real saying,”if you don’t coach Real Madrid then you will always have a gap in your career.” At Inter, Mourinho won Serie A in 2008–09, 2009–10, Coppa Italia: 2009–10, Supercoppa Italiana: 2008 and the coveted UEFA Champions League: 2009–10.
Mourinho stirred the waters when he admitted “the best year of my career was at Inter. I won’t be their coach next year, but in future, why not? Eating with my President and Mrs Moratti, their children… it’s a fantastic sensation. I never disguised the fact the best year of my career was at Inter. Life is like that, but I always remained close to Massimo Moratti.” He continued the intrigue by adding: “But Inter have a project with Roberto Mancini and I hope it goes well. I don’t want to close the door for the future, as in football you never can tell, especially if you already had joy and a fantastic rapport with the club.” Keeping the door slightly ajar then, Jose? Clever.
Mourinho’s talents won’t have gone unnoticed in many leagues, while international set-ups may be glancing, too, but another emerged very recently, but is it mere speculation and idle gossip?
Arsenal. If it were true, you can almost imagine Piers Morgan’s fits of rage beginning.
If you look at the proposition compared to Manchester United, he would be almost definitely managing in the Champions League and not the Europa League. He would be under less pressure at The Emirates, the club would be under his control, as it is with Arsene Wenger, and Arsenal are more stable.
Jose also has a London home and knows two players very well – Petr Cech and Mesut Ozil. Equally, United may keep faith with Van Gaal for the final year of his contract should the club secure Champions League qualification. And they say Arsenal are now looking elsewhere for a manager after finally growing frustrated at the inability of Wenger to deliver a Premier League title.
The bad blood between Mourinho and Wenger makes Arsenal an unlikely fit, but Real, Inter and United are all very possible.
Unless there’s another team and Mourinho’s playing mind games?