Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG or Manchester United - Where Will Mourinho Go Next?
With José Mourinho strongly rumoured to be leaving Real Madrid at the end of the season, there will be a number of clubs desperate to secure the services of the Special One as soon as possible. His record speaks for itself: any chairman knows that signing "The Special One" is as good as guaranteeing the title for his side. While it is not by any means impossible that Mourinho will stay at the Bernabéu, it is worth noting that several of Europe’s biggest sides will have managerial vacancies come July 2013. He is certain to be strongly linked with each of them and will likely receive more than one offer of a job – but which will he choose?
Pros: The fans still idolise Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, and every time Roman Abramovich dispenses with a manager they vocalise their wish for his swift return. To say Rafa Benítez’s interim tenure looks unlikely to be extended is putting it as politely as possible. In short, the job will be offered to all and sundry at the end of the 2012-13 season. For Mourinho, the chance to add a Champions League title to those he has already won withChelsea must be unbelievably tempting. With the squad loaded with attacking talent and transfer funds still very much available, Mourinho would surely not reject a return out of principle alone.
Cons: With a more prestigious job likely to be offered by at least one Manchester club, Mourinho would probably see a return to Chelsea as a step backwards. Not only is there little new to achieve for him at Stamford Bridge, he has already run afoul of Abramovich’s flights of fancy once and may well see the oligarch’s offer and pass on it. Perhaps the biggest ‘con’ of all is that Abramovich has his heart set on Pep Guardiola: setting his sights on Guardiola’s flair-filled brand of gung-ho attacking play only to go back to Mourinho’s relatively dour style must be unthinkable.
Likelihood: While it would certainly be a romantic move, it must be one considered improbable at best.
Pros: Mourinho has close links with PSG’s owners, the Qatar Investment Authority, and has recently refused to rule out a move to the French capital. For him, it would a step into the unknown and another opportunity to succeed in a new league. While Ligue Un may lag behind its rivals now, it is a league fast improving and with PSG’s financial might, Mourinho could conceivably be the perfect figurehead for the club’s inevitable assault on the Champions League. This is a job with supportive owners and little pressure – the perfect tonic following his experience at the Bernabéu.
Cons: Despite their monumental wealth, PSG remain relatively small-fry in the hierarchy of European football. Even if they were to win Ligue Un this season, they would likely find themselves drawn into a tough Champions League group and the possibility for subsequent embarrassment is simply too great for Mourinho to consider spending time on the Parisian project just yet.
Likelihood: With bigger clubs able to offer immediate success, the chances of Mourinho choosing Paris as his next destination are low. While there is plenty of reason to believe that Mourinho will one day be named PSG’s manager, this prospect is a distant one indeed.
Pros: Mourinho has unfinished business in Serie A. While he won five trophies during his two years with Milan’s city rivals Internazionale, he certainly did not win over the people of Italy. To that end, the opportunity to take over from the beleaguered Massimiliano Allegri and restore Milan to their former glories may be the perfect project. Owner Silvio Berlusconi has talked up the chances of Mourinho coming to the San Siro and would doubtless invest heavily in the event of his arrival. Success with the Rossoneri would be the perfect answer to the critics who have so vociferously attacked him for so long.
Cons: Simply put, Milan in their current state are beneath Mourinho. The squad is bloated and full of deadwood, and Silvio Berlusconi’s on-going legal troubles make it hard to predict just how much investment will be permitted in the event of Mourinho taking the reins. While Mourinho would certainly relish the technical and tactical challenge posed by Serie A – he has described it as the hardest title to win on more than one occasion – he will not look forward to resuming his running battle with the Italian press.
Likelihood: Unless Berlusconi is cleared or Milan are sold to a benevolent billionaire, this is pretty much a non-starter.
Pros: When it comes to following the greatest managerial act that there has ever been, there is only one personality big enough to step into the job without being overawed. Mourinho’s name has been on Manchester United fans’ lips from the moment he victoriously ran down the Old Trafford touchline in 2004, and with Sir Alex Ferguson once again rumoured to be on the verge of retirement, the timing could not be better. Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to return to England, and offered the chance to succeed the man he calls ‘The Boss’, he would accept without batting an eyelid.
Cons: The financial situation at Old Trafford is a topic of constant and heated debate, and no-one is quite sure just how much money is available to the United boss. With Mourinho likely to demand significant funds with which to fashion some semblance of a midfield, it presents a significant hurdle which must be overcome if he is to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson. Other than that, the only worry for Manchester United fans is that he may have accepted another job before the one at United comes up.
Likelihood: Definitely the most likely destination for The Special One – but only if Ferguson retires. Whether or not Fergie will finally call it a day at the end of the season is anyone’s guess.
Pros: This is the kind of job in which Mourinho specialises. Presented with a blank chequebook, he would likely repeat the trick he has so famously performed at Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid and mould a disparate group of superstars into a cohesive unit operating with military precision. Importantly, his prospective bosses at Manchester City – Sheikh Mansour and Khaldoon Al Mubarak – are the antithesis of his former superior at Chelsea, Roman Abramovich. Where the Russian is hasty and sacked Mourinho having become unhappy for largely aesthetic reasons, the Arabs have proved themselves to be calm, considered planners. Friction between manager and owners would be minimal unless results were disastrous.
Cons: Having recently appointed Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain as C.E.O. and Director of Football respectively, Manchester City have made no secret of the fact that they would prefer Pep Guardiola to succeed Roberto Mancini, should he depart any time soon. Whether Mourinho would happily work in such a structure remains to be seen. Additionally, Mourinho has made no secret of his preference for short spells in each of his jobs. It seems unlikely that an owner as sensible as Sheikh Mansour would knowingly appoint a manager so unconcerned with the future.
Likelihood: If this was Mourinho’s only route back into the Premier League, he would take it. If Ferguson stays on at OId Trafford and Mancini fails in his defence of the title, do not be surprised to see Mourinho succeed the Italian for a second time.
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