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.
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.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies