Mourinho's Next Step: Internazionale, Valencia, Tottenham... or even England?

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho's problem, as he considers what to do next, is that most of the clubs whose stature match his own are happy enough with the manager they already employ. Real Madrid, who courted Mourinho last season, have only just appointed Bernd Schuster, their former playmaker who has started La Liga with a trio of wins. Similarly Claudio Ranieri, the man Mourinho replaced at Stamford Bridge, has begun his reign at Juventus with successive wins. Carlo Ancelotti's Milan are the Champions League holders while Roberto Mancini's Internazionale won Serie A last season.

However, Inter have started poorly this time, at home and in Europe, and last season's success was achieved in a season when rivals were either absent, like Juventus, or handicapped by points deductions. Schuster, meanwhile, indicated this week that he is unhappy with interference from Predrag Mijatovic, the club's sporting director, and a Mourinho fan. Should Schuster keep winning it will be Mijatovic who goes. If he does not, Real may move for Mourinho, though it should be remembered that they sacked Fabio Capello, despite winning La Liga, for much the same reason Mourinho left Chelsea. The team lacked style.

Another possibility is Barcelona. Having won both La Liga and the Champions League in 2006 they went without a trophy last season and Frank Rijkaard is known to be unsure about his future. Mourinho is not, however, popular at the Nou Camp .

There would be no shortage of interested second-tier clubs such as Tottenham or Valencia. Spurs may be a step down but Mourinho would not have to uproot his family from London, where he and they like living, and it would offer the chance to put one over Abramovich. So would replacing the unpopular Quique Sanchez Flores at Valencia for they are Chelsea's Champions League opponents. The prospect of returning to Chelsea on 11 December, being acclaimed by the fans then stealing the points, would certainly appeal.

In Portugal there is a talk of a romantic return to Vitoria Setubal, his hometown club. But Setubal are not even a big club by Portuguese standards. Any return to Portugal would be a retrograde step, unless it was to coach the national team. Luiz Felipe Scolari is expected to move on after Euro 2008 – or before if Portugal fail to qualify. Mourinho may feel he is too young for such a post. Unless the England job suddenly became available.

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