Two UEFA Champions League titles, one UEFA Cup, two Portuguese Primiera Liga championships, two FA Premier League titles, an FA Cup win against the Red Devils and two Serie A league titles.
This is an impressive résumé for a manager who recently lost his record of never being defeated in a league home game in just over nine years, spanning across four clubs and ending with his current side Real Madrid, who went down 1-0 to the ‘mighty’ Sporting Gijón on the 2nd of April.
This man is of course José Mourinho, the man who is constantly being linked in the ongoing saga and speculation surrounding Fergie’s replacement, a saga which was reignited again last week, despite Fergie marking 25 years at Manchester United this November and turning 70 the month after.
It is no secret that Mourinho has a great relationship and mutual respect with Fergie, but after recently speaking with Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Ferguson has said that the ‘Special One’ will have to wait for his chance to take the Man United job:
“José is a great friend of mine. We have spoken many times about his future and I understand his wish to return to England because here a coach has more freedom than in Spain.
“But it’s difficult for me to say when my position will be available. It will be my health that decides. I will continue until I no longer feel the energy that has always accompanied me.
“If I was told, ‘Alex, you are too old, we have decided to turn the page’, no problem. I have done my part here, with an absolutely fantastic career.”[i]
This supplies further evidence that Fergie may still remain our manager for a number of years, and even though we haven’t played at our best this season, we are still top of the table, in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and could knock out rivals Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday.
So what could the ‘Special One’ do for the club after Fergie leaves?
Many have argued that Mourinho could only be at the club for a few years, and although he may bring success in the short-term, I would hate to see us turn into a side like Chelsea who have a new manager nearly every season.
It is also said that Mourinho has discarded the youth set up in many of the clubs he has been at, relying upon a large transfer budget to bring in the ‘big guns’. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday back in March 2009, club legend Bobby Charlton said:
“I would hate for anyone to take this the wrong way but I don’t see him [Mourinho] here. He’s got a talent but maybe if he ever came here the philosophy of youth football might never be the same again.”[ii]
Losing Fergie would greatly affect the morale of not only the players but the whole club and us as fans, so stability would be the best solution, but who knows, maybe Mourinho would stay with the club for longer than any of his previous sides.
The 48 year-old has managed the top sides of Italy, Portugal, Spain and England, it is obvious to see he has no clear intention of moving to clubs in France, Germany or Holland if he wishes to move back to England like he has said, and he does not seem the type of manager that is currently willing to manage a national side, so maybe United are his calling?
Back in 2009, Rio Ferdinand told GQ magazine:
“There are very few people who could take over. If you’re talking about someone with the ego and personality to do it, then José Mourinho is the name that jumps out at you.”[ii]
Other possible candidates include ex-United players Laurent Blanc, Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce.
Blanc showed his managerial talents at Bordeaux, where he won the domestic double, as well as an impressive Champions League campaign; however he took on the France job last year and is contracted until 2012.
Hughes and Bruce have done well with the clubs they have managed, however with Hughes being the ex-City manager this may be a problem with some fans, and Bruce has not really had much experience managing a top side.
David Moyes, Carlos Queiroz and Martin O’Neill have also been linked, but would Moyes want to work with Rooney again? He has done well with Everton but taken them as far as he can. I don’t believe Queiroz and O’Neill are the right men for the job, although I would prefer O’Neill out of the three.
Whoever takes the Manchester United job has big shoes to fill, and personally I think Mourinho is the ideal candidate. With regards to Ferguson, the man will probably die at the side of the pitch, but only time will tell.
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[ii]Rio Ferdinand and Sir Bobby Charlton quotes – Ferdinand tips Mourinho as next Manchester United manager