Old Trafford is the only stage big enough for Mourinho
You have got to hand it to José Mourinho. He will be otherwise engaged, running down his contract at Real Madrid, but his will be the name on everyone’s lips at the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium this weekend.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who shares Mourinho’s uncanny ability to get under the skin of his rivals, stirred the pot nicely by suggesting that the Special One had the strength of personality and ferocity of ambition to replace him as Manchester United manager.
The prospect will doubtlessly leave Roberto Mancini pining for the sanctuary of a darkened room. To say he doesn’t get on with Mourinho is an understatement of planetary proportions. The Manchester City manager recently accused Mourinho of touting himself around Europe, which is not that far from the truth, but the venom involved in the statement merely served to highlight Mancini’s vulnerability.
Of course, Mourinho doesn’t need to flood the job market with copies of his CV. Even the bad news, like yesterday’s story in Marca, Real’s favoured conduit for officially-approved conjecture, which suggested he would leave the Bernabeu at the end of the season, is good. We get the picture.
He’s available, and would be an upgrade on Mancini at the Etihad, where his ambition of winning the Champions League with an English club chimes with the corporate strategy set in Abu Dhabi. Mourinho has won 20 trophies in his 10-year managerial career, an average only Ferguson can match at the highest level.
Mourinho doesn’t come cheap – it has been estimated that he and his extended backroom staff cost Madrid more, collectively, than Cristiano Ronaldo – but he does offer vale for money.
Chelsea have yet adequately to replace him, and though inviting him to re-impose order on chaos at Stamford Bridge has a degree of logic, not to mention a delicious irony, Mourinho would be best advised to seek a bigger stage.
Where would he be best suited? I have to say United. They are a bigger club than City and despite the corporate leeching of the Glazer family, they have a history and a heritage unique in English football.
Those factors will also attract Pep Guardiola, who would be among familiar figures at City. Both Manchester clubs are in a position to offer a new manager a perfect platform. Coming to you soon, in the Premier League: Guardiola and Mourinho – the rematch.
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