While Jose Mourinho was upbraiding reporters on Friday afternoon for “fishing for non-football news” – discussing his future rather than concentrating on this week’s Champions League semi-final against Borussia Dortmund – there came a confirmation. He admitted that it was unlikely that he would be at Real Madrid next season.
By Jason Burt
As usual, it came in coded fashion. He confirmed that he would not be able to give his annual talk to the coaches of Canillas – the youth team where his son plays – but stopped short of saying whether that would be because he would not be with Real or simply because he did not want to do it any more.
It is ever thus with Mourinho – a side-step here, a tease there – but it usually moves towards the same conclusion. It is why his powerful agent, Jorge Mendes, has made clear his client’s demands to Europe’s leading clubs.
Even if Real overcome Dortmund this week and win a 10th European crown at Wembley next month – possibly against Barcelona, who meet Bayern Munich in this week’s other semi-final – it is almost inconceivable that Mourinho will remain in his post. There have been too many controversies: complaints about the Real hierarchy, tension with the club’s Spanish players, the conflict surrounding transfers and a perceived bias against Cristiano Ronaldo – another of Mendes’s candidates – who may also leave this summer .
Chelsea, where Mourinho’s cause is championed by Marina Granovskaia, the PA to Roman Abramovich whose influence is far greater than that title would suggest, have been told that their former manager wants a £12 million-a-year salary, total control of transfers, ahead of the club’s technical director, Michael Emenalo, and, crucially, a ‘get-out’ should they fail to qualify for the Champions League this season. The demands have been rejected, for now at least.
But going into the Champions League matches this week – and Bayern Munich’s Jupp Heynckes is also leaving to make way for Pep Guardiola – it appears Mourinho’s future could have a trigger effect, leading to other changes which could leave Europe’s landscape with a very different appearance next season.
Mourinho has flirted with the Qatari-owned Paris St-Germain although, again depending on whom you believe, it is unclear whether the impetus is coming from the Portuguese or the club. PSG’s sporting director Leonardo has recently claimed current coach Carlo Ancelotti is “perfect” for the club and will stay put.
The attraction of PSG for Mourinho, beyond the money, is the chance to win the domestic league in a fifth European country and also to mount a serious challenge again to recapture the Champions League. It would also mean he could split his time between Paris and London, where his family may well base themselves and his daughter has enrolled in a fine arts school and ‘park’ himself for the right Premier League job. Ancelotti, for his part, has been touted as Mourinho’s replacement at Real, although he would not be the only candidate to be considered. Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas is also admired and would feature on a short-list when Mourinho goes.
Manchester City are also in the equation for possible change, with Roberto Mancini’s future under review this summer, having failed to accomplish his two top targets – retaining the Premier League title and progressing through the group stages of the Champions League. The Italian has also been damaged by the growing hostility towards him following a series of clashes with players.
City have a new team of chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain, who pointedly overlooked Mourinho when he was spoken to for the Barcelona job in 2008. The strongest recent link to the club at present is that of Ajax’s Frank de Boer, who is well-known to the Spaniards and fits their profile.
It does not end there. Inter Milan’s young coach Andrea Stramoccioni is also under mounting pressure – inevitably a campaign has started to bring back Mourinho – while the representatives of Juventus’s Antonio Conte have suggested he may be interested in finding another club. Then there is Monaco, who spoke to Mancini last summer. They are another ambitious club who are coached by Claudio Ranieri, the man replaced by Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004.
As ever in European football, all roads seem to lead to Jose.
Jose Mourinho is likely to leave. Andre Villas-Boas and Carlo Ancelotti are targets.
Mourinho is a target to replace Ancelotti.
Mourinho is pushing hard for a return but Malaga’s Manuel Pellegrini is favourite.
Roberto Mancini is under review. Ajax’s Frank de Boer is a good fit.
Andrea Stramaccioni’s job is on the line.
Antonio Conte is in demand, having been linked with Chelsea and Manchester City and is hoping to retain the Italian title this season.