Jose Mourinho is targeting Manchester United as his next managerial job, The Independent has learned, and intermediaries have already taken the first steps in trying to make it happen.
Chelsea sacked the 52-year-old on Thursday, but it is felt that could finally open the way for the Portuguese to get the post that many feel he has long coveted, especially given the ongoing dissatisfaction at Old Trafford with Louis van Gaal.
Sources close to Mourinho say he has already received job offers for the start of next season, but his representatives have also reached out to United because it is the role he has coveted above all others, especially since it became clear that his second spell at Chelsea was coming to an end.
The issue of whether he would be a suitable candidate for the job has long caused debate at Old Trafford, and some key United officials wanted Mourinho to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson when the Scot retired in 2013. Mourinho was open to the possibility, but United decided to appoint David Moyes, and Mourinho returned to Chelsea.
There is currently doubt at the top level of Manchester United about the direction of the side under Van Gaal, however, despite the backing he received from club officials in newspapers on the eve of the Wolfsburg away match in the Champions League. It is understood that 3-2 defeat is one of a number of factors – including ongoing player disenchantment – causing the Old Trafford hierarchy to reassess plans for the future under Van Gaal. Some at the club are insistent they go all out for Pep Guardiola to come in this summer, although there is an acceptance Manchester City are leading that race.
Jose Mourinho's season in quotes
Jose Mourinho's season in quotes
1/10 On the Eva Carneiro row
'You have to understand the game even if you’re a kit man, a doctor or a secretary on the bench'
2/10 On the Eva Carniero row (ii)
'I was unhappy with my medical staff. They were impulsive and naive'
3/10 After 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace
'We didn't deserve to lose. But Palace gave us a very difficult game. The result should be a draw, which would still be bad for us. We did enough not to lose'
4/10 After 3-1 defeat at Everton
'I am not feeling pressure. The results are the worst in my career. They are not adapted to my quality, my status, but I am coping well with the situation. I am the man for the job. I don't think there is better man who could come and do my job'
5/10 After 3-1 home defeat to Southampton
'When we are at the top I understand that there is quite a big pleasure in putting us down but when you are down I think you need to be a bit honest and to make clear that the referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea”. "I repeat, if the FA want to punish me, they can punish me, they don't punish other managers, they punish me - it's not a problem for me. But I want to repeat because I think my players deserve it, I think our fans deserve it and I am a Chelsea fan too. I want to say it again: referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea'
6/10 To referee Jon Moss, a comment that got him sent to the stands at West Ham
'Wenger is right about you… you are f****** weak'
7/10 After being fined £50,000 for his comments about officials being 'scared' to award Chelsea decisions
'I'm happy I don't have an electronic tag'
8/10 Refusing to answer any questions after Chelsea are beating 3-1 by Liverpool
'I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I'm so sorry. I have nothing to say'
9/10 After Glenn Murray's offside goal gave Bournemouth a famous win
'In the moment when our opponent were thinking just about defending a clean sheet they cross the halfway line for the first time and scored. If it was offside it is another episode that goes against us, but I did not'
10/10 After defeat to Leicester City on Monday
'One of my best qualities is to read the game for my players and I feel like my work was betrayed'
If that happens, Mourinho would almost represent an ideal option in terms of his profile. It would also end criticisms that United have somehow missed out on three of the biggest managers in the world – Mourinho, Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp – in the two and a half years since Ferguson retired.
On the Portuguese’s side, there has been some discussion over whether Mourinho could do with taking a sabbatical, and a period of taking stock after the scale of the decline at Chelsea.
His representatives are all aware of his long-standing desire for the United job, however, and the situation would be aided by the strong relationship between the Old Trafford executive vice chairman Ed Woodward and Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes. The latter has already started sounding out potential employers for Mourinho.
The Independent reported in October that contact had been made between Mourinho’s camp and Paris Saint-Germain and Internazionale.
During his time in charge of Chelsea, Mourinho is understood to have become angry with the response of the players to their alarming slump in form – but also was hugely frustrated with the structure of the club. He privately expressed that their round-table transfer policy was inhibiting, despite public attempts at a united front.
Nevertheless, Mourinho returned to Chelsea’s Cobham training base today to say goodbye to his players, while his lawyers finalised severance terms with the club. The owner, Roman Abramovich, was also in attendance today, watching the players train. He spoke with Michael Emenalo, the Chelsea technical director as well as certain first-team members including Branislav Ivanovic, the long-serving defender.
Meanwhile, Chelsea were speaking to Guus Hiddink tonight about the Dutchman taking temporary charge of the team. However, it is believed that Chelsea coaches Steve Holland and Eddie Newton will be taking charge of the team for tomorrow's home Premier League match against Sunderland.
The Chelsea captain John Terry joined Cesc Fabregas as the only two players to go public about Mourinho’s dismissal. Terry said that Mourinho’s exit was a “sad, sad day” on Instagram. “Going to miss you boss,” Terry wrote. “The very best I have ever worked with, unbelievable memories together. Thank you doesn’t seem enough.”