Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mourinho timing right for United?

The juicy topic that is "who will replace Fergie" seems to raise its head every few weeks; it was only a week ago that the United manager hinted he'd go after winning two more European trophies (that will be the Champions League, right?) - Cynics might well suggest on that basis he could be at the helm for a very long time, given his record in Europe - let us hope they are wrong.

Whether or not Fergie wins the Champions League again, logic and time surely dictate that he can stay on as manager for the most two more seasons; it will probably be one more season. If that turns out to be the case then United's power-brokers will no doubt be interested to learn that Jose Mourinho will become available in 2011. From the outside looking in, it seems his dalliance with Italian football will be a short one.

Chelsea's former manager continues to speak about his love of English football; by default Mourinho appears to be plotting a course back to his former stomping ground. However, if the Inter manager has any thoughts of taking over at Chelsea then he will be slightly disappointed to learn that Bruce Buck has gone on record stating in no uncertain terms that Mourinho will not be a Chelsea manager any time soon.

There appears to be a growing clamour among United supporters that Jose is the man to replace Fergie. Added to which, it is well documented that Fergie has been dropping hints that he likes Jose - could he be Fergie's heir apparent?

For their part, United fans should perhaps take a moment to consider Mourinho's record; while no one can question the man's tactical genius and his trophy haul, longevity and loyalty are words rarely used in connection with the Inter Milan manager. Mourinho is still in his first season in Italy, but already he has hinted about where his future lies and that talk fuels speculation.

Mourinho plays the media like a well used fiddle, he loves the limelight and the guessing games; he is the managerial equivalent of David Beckham - his life is one big soap opera - the saving grace is he isn't married to one of the Spice girls.

While Fergie and Mourinho get along famously they are in fact complete opposites; both have enjoyed huge success on the field, but there the comparisons end. When Fergie wins a trophy, the very next day he thinks about winning the next one for United; when Mourinho wins a trophy he talks a lot about a lot of things and as he shown he is not averse to dropping hints about moving on to his next challenge. For this reason as well as the baggage that comes with Jose, it came as no surprise to read that United legends, Bobby Charlton and Bryan Robson apparently have doubts about Jose Mourinho taking over from Fergie. United's decision makers will have also taken note of Bruce Buck's comments which appear to rule out any way back for Jose at Chelsea.

Part of Mourinho's appeal is his magnetic personality, his record as a manager speaks for itself, it is a powerful mix, it could be described as a seductive cocktail that players and media alike find hard to resist. However, given his near gypsy like propensity to up sticks and move his caravan on to the next challenge, you do wonder if football's stellar names will start to think twice and put their own careers first given Jose's seemingly ever rolling bandwagon.

When Mourinho left Chelsea, noises coming out of the Chelsea camp suggested that some players were less than happy about that parting of the ways because they'd agreed to sign new deals on the back of Jose Mourinho's commitment to the Blues cause - it was of course a mutual separation - but here again, there was a self-destruct element to this parting of the ways with many suggesting that Mourinho was himself the instigator.

Mourinho is currently is being linked to Manchester City, who despite their new found wealth, are increasingly becoming an even bigger laughing stock; in the space of a week the Citizens have been humiliated losing 3-1 twice - results which could well lead to Mark Hughes facing the sack.

In many ways Mourinho would be perfect for City; they are in no position to dictate terms, quite the reverse. I personally doubt money is a big motivation for Jose, but if it was, just imagine what sort of obscene deal he could secure and in all probability it would be ring-fenced with get-out-clauses galore should a big job be offered in the future.

Mourinho at City would in the eyes of their Arab owners be viewed as confirmation that the club has arrived. It wouldn't matter if Mourinho's tenure at Eastlands was short-lived because if the club actually won a trophy or two along the way with all the publicity that comes with it, it would be mission accomplished.

The Mourinho story so far makes for compelling reading and you do wonder how the next chapter will pan out; it could well be the case that Jose will have no choice but to accept what he might well describe as a "massive challenge" by taking a step down and control of the reins of a second-tier club like Manchester City. If Spurs could afford Jose's excesses where new signings are concerned, they would surely be in with a strong shout given his love of London.

For now and the foreseeable short-term future, the guessing games will continue.

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