So the season of Goodwill didn’t last long at Stamford Bridge with the parting of ways between Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. Whether it was straight after their club Christmas meal as reported, I am certainly not privy to, but the after taste must remain bitter in the mouth of ‘The Special One’, for he done what many wouldn’t, returned to his old employers after being relieved of his duties a few years ago.
The players have undoubtedly let Jose down, but he in turn has also let them down by using words that wouldn’t have gone too well in the dressing room, such as ‘betrayed’.
So what next for Jose ? a sabbatical (and wait for the Portugal job), Madrid, Manchester or elsewhere?
Jose Mourinho has never experienced such a downturn during his managerial reign, but he is unquestionably one of the top managers in world football and regaining that status is something he will be desperate to prove once again.
Of course, we mustn’t forget that at present, there are no managerial vacancies in Madrid or Manchester, but either of those cities is likely to be his destination some time soon. With pressure always mounting for any manager at Real Madrid, he may wish to return to clear up the ‘mess’ that his old adversary Rafa Benitez could leave behind (which I’m sure he would enjoy).
Then there is the hot-seat at Old Trafford which although is not yet vacant, Louis van Gaal would do well to remain there without winning silverware this season.
Mourinho has previously spoke about building a dynasty, not too dissimilar to one that his good friend Sir Alex Ferguson built, but of course his detractors will argue that he only remains at any club he has managed no more than three years. I’m firmly of the belief that he would love nothing more than to try to emulate ‘The Boss’ (something which can be almost impossible) and stay at United for much longer than three years.
Then there is the argument that his teams are usually negative, don’t play attractive football and are frankly boring to watch. Last season, with Fabregas and Hazard pulling the strings, Diego Costa almost unplayable at times, he showed the glimpses of the type of football he wanted to bring to The Bridge, whilst being fully aware of the style of football his teams have played.
His outspoken mannerism is something that would irk most board members, but maybe this particular experience, and how he fell from grace so dramatically, might just put him in good stead for the future.
Of course he has to learn, but one cannot forget how he can impact positively too, just ask his former players, in particular those that weren’t world beaters, such as Paolo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Diego Milito. Jose Mourinho’s ability to instil belief in his players cannot be underestimated, despite the goings on this season at Stamford Bridge, the impact he had on most of the Inter Milan team is also testament to this, where even seasoned pro’s were impressed by his ability to get the best out of them, ala Marco Matterazi.
The ability to bring in youth team players and to give them an opportunity is one area that he has rarely succeeded and one which is of paramount importance to a club like Manchester United, steeped with a great tradition of giving youth a chance, and to be accepted by the Old Trafford faithful he would need to show just how much he cares about this topic.
For all of his misdemeanours, be it with journalists, his players, opposition managers, Jose has the hunger and desire to be a winner, has proven his ability (albeit for only a few years at a time) in Portugal where he took Porto to Champions League glory, in England with Chelsea, In Italy with Inter Milan winning an historic treble and winning La Liga with Real Madrid. What he hasn’t yet proven is his ability to get up when being knocked down so ferociously, which still remains to be seen of course.
Whilst he doesn’t play the attractive football that Pep Guardiola gets his teams playing, and whilst he doesn’t have the gentlemanly conduct of Carlo Ancelotti, this latest episode in his career should be the wake up call he needs to change certain elements to his managerial duties and responsibilities.
When Sir Alex Ferguson announced he was to retire, it appeared all too frequently that Mourinho flirted with the idea of being the next manager. Time and again he paid glowing tribute to Sir Alex, the fans at Old Trafford, the atmosphere and what a special club United is. United missed the boat, as Mourinho ended up at Chelsea, with Guardiola going to Bayern Munich, and Ancelotti also unavailable, with the Red Devils ending up with David Moyes as manager – concluding in an inevitable divorce.
It might seem absurd to many United fans to have ‘The Special One’ at the helm, as he would want to be at he centre of attention, playing anti-football, having board room wrangles (which may actually be a good thing in this scenario), but this could yet be an option that shouldn’t be ignored. Mourinho’s love for England would make him want to prove his doubters wrong in this country. Pep Guardiola may feel that United haven’t shown no urgency in attempting to make him theirs, coupled with the fact that he has allies across Manchester at The Eastlands. That could pave the way for Carlo Ancelotti to take charge at The Allianz Arena, and United the decision to stick or twist with van Gaal, as they wouldn’t want to pass by an opportunity to have a world class manager replace van Gaal.
Maybe like the maverick Eric Cantona once found himself yearning for love and affection in football, Jose Mourinho too is looking for a place to call home in football, and Old Trafford could just be the place he is longing for.