I know this is a little late but I wanted the hype to die down a little bit. It’s not a fluff topic and it’s not going to go away no matter how many madridistas throw themselves under the Jose Mourinho bus and plead with him to stay after the end of this season. It’s almost decided that he’ll win the league. Barcelona might win the individual battles but they’ll lose the war. It’s a war of attrition and their best players, other than Lionel Messi, are out or have been injured for significant portions of the season. Get ready for the honor guard sometime in May. The Champions League is another story because it is as much a matter of luck and especially the luck of the draw as the head to head match-ups but other than Barcelona, Real Madrid have few real challengers. It’s a game between champs and there are only two real challengers. In England, Arsenal is down as is Chelsea. Milan isn’t built for the Champions League in Italy and Inter Milan are fragile under Claudio Ranieri. There is a very good chance that if Barcelona can be bested between this round and the final, that Jose’s Real Madrid can finally get that 10th European Cup. With either that or even just a League title in Spain, Mourinho is every bit prepared to skip out of Dodge and return to the friendly confines of the English media and the cold and rainy terrain that suits him best. The question is where?
Manchester United: the most talked about option is the Reds. Sir Alex Ferguson is getting on in years and he has more than hinted at retirement over the last decade, but it is highly doubtful that Jose will walk the sidelines at Old Trafford and the main opponent I think will be Sir Alex himself. Despite similarities in the way that both handle their squads and how they both dominate the English media, their football has nothing in common. The obvious choice is to bring in someone with a connection to Fergie’s squads, maybe an ex-player or an assistant, but unless they drag him out by the bootstraps, Sir Alex will be intimately involved with nominating his successor and it may come from somewhere other than the British Isles.
Chelsea: I know that Chelsea fans would be ecstatic and his former players themselves would welcome the return of the Special One to Stamford Bridge, but Jose Mourinho is no fool. The squad is old and stagnant. It will take more than an influx of Russian cash to re-energize the squad. Thomas Wolfe said it best. You can’t go home again. Chelsea just doesn’t fit the profile of a club with money and on the cusp of greatness that Jose requires.
Liverpool: not a chance. (You can also throw out Spurs as well for financial reasons). First of all the supporters would linch the owners before any deals would ever come through. Even if Kenny Dalgleish leaves his post or is fired, the American owners would hire someone with a more pronounced ability to work under financial constraints. Considering how their American owners generally operate they don’t believe in high-profile superstar managers. I think they would a guy like Martin O’Neill here if he weren’t so duly deputized by Sunderland or an Andre Vilas-Boas might have been better served here than under the scrutiny of his former boss’s squad.
Manchester City: this is the obvious answer. Jose loves to buy talent and the Middle Easter owners have more than any club owners in the world and yet I don’t think Jose will make the obvious choice. He’s not Rafa Benitez. He won’t follow Roberto Mancini again. Plus, the squad is too big. Jose likes a smaller squad that he can mold in his own image and their squad is too unwieldy and has too much baggage. I think Mancini stays and just continues retooling. If he’s fired I think this is where Rafa Benitez finally reappears.
Arsenal: I’m most likely wrong and all of you can rip me to shreds but give me a second and hear me out. I know how you feel about Mourinho. I still have a special place in my heart for the Untouchables of 2003-2004 and Arsene Wenger is one of my favorite managers of all time, but his time at Arsenal is coming to an end. A return to boring, boring Arsenal might not be what you all clamor for but it might be necessary. Pragmatism is what Jose offers and he loves England and especially London. He might get carte-blanche from the new chairman and he’ll at least bring a more concerted effort to win trophies. More than that I think the squad is perfect for what Jose brings to the table. They have talent, a boatload of attacking talent, and they have a few gaps to fill on defense. It might be a perfect fit if Arsenal fans give themselves a broader definition as to what constitutes Arsenal football.
I could be wrong. Most likely I am, but who knows, I’m probably not that far from the truth. Jose is leaving, where do you think he’s heading?