Friday 30 September 2016

Jose Mourinho stands by as work behind the scenes earns Van Gaal United reprieve

Mark Ogden

Published 22/12/2015 | 02:30

Manchester United's owners are aware of Jose Mourinho's desire to return to management at Old Trafford, but remain determined to give Louis van Gaal the opportunity to save his job over the Christmas period.

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Mourinho, who has contacted Swansea City since his dismissal from Chelsea last Thursday to support the candidacy of Portuguese compatriot Jose Morais for the managerial vacancy at the Liberty Stadium, has made it clear publicly that he is ready to work again as quickly as possible following his departure from Stamford Bridge last week.

Hierarchy

United's hierarchy have also been given a private indication of Mourinho's interest in succeeding Van Gaal at Old Trafford should the Dutchman lose his job.

However, with the 64-year-old and his players dining together for their Christmas lunch at Carrington yesterday, there remains a sense of business as usual ahead of the trip to Stoke City on St Stephen's Day, which may yet decide the manager's fate.

While senior figures at the club are aware of tensions within the dressing-room and a growing lack of faith among the squad in Van Gaal's methods, the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach has yet to be cut adrift by the Glazers and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

Work done by Van Gaal behind the scenes since succeeding David Moyes as manager in July 2014 is regarded as a success story by Woodward and the Glazers and, despite crashing out of the Champions League during a run of three successive defeats, it is his overall contribution at the club that is now earning him a stay of execution - at least for the moment.

However, a further defeat against either Stoke on Saturday or at home to Chelsea next Monday would see any lingering support evaporate and leave the Glazers and Woodward contemplating the merits of Mourinho as a successor.

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While Ryan Giggs would be in place to take temporary charge in the event of Van Gaal leaving, should the Welshman be prepared to manage on an interim basis, Mourinho would be considered as a proven, top-level successor.

Despite Mourinho's blue-chip track record, notwithstanding his disastrous last season at Chelsea, the Glazers are still to be convinced by the former Porto, Internazionale and Real Madrid coach's suitability for the United job.

The club's determination to remain one that is rooted in youth development jars with Mourinho's heavy focus on the first-team squad at all of his previous clubs.

Mourinho's tendency to clash with authority, notably the English FA and match officials, is another issue which has prompted discomfort at United, most notably with director and former player Bobby Charlton citing that as a negative factor when asked about Mourinho's credentials as a potential successor to Alex Ferguson three years ago.

But with United travelling to Stoke having won just three of their last 13 games in all competitions, there is an acceptance that Van Gaal is running out of chances to turn the tide and that Mourinho, who worked alongside Van Gaal at Barcelona, would offer a ready-made solution to any potential vacancy.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has spent recent days attempting to help Morais land the Swansea job.

The former Chelsea manager is understood to have contacted Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins to back the credentials of Morais, who was part of his backroom staff at Stamford Bridge.

Having sacked Garry Monk two weeks ago, Jenkins has failed to tempt Giggs into discussing the vacancy and remains keen to lure former Athletic Bilbao and Marseilles coach Marcelo Bielsa to the club.

Morais, who worked alongside Mourinho at Inter, Real and Chelsea, has not managed since a brief spell in charge of Saudi Arabian outfit Al Shabab in 2014. (© Independent News Service)

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