Saturday 24 February 2018

Mourinho eyes Premier League return with Real exit on cards

Chris Bascombe

Jose Mourinho is edging closer to a return to English football after refusing to deny a claim that he will leave Real Madrid this summer.

The Premier League's top managers may feel less comfortable in their positions after the Spanish daily 'Marca' – widely regarded as the mouthpiece of Bernabeu president Florentino Perez – announced Mourinho would sever his ties with Real in June.

Manchester City's Roberto Mancini and Chelsea's interim coach Rafael Benitez may feel vulnerable, although the timing of the announcement – coinciding with a lavish tribute from Alex Ferguson in a TV documentary shown last night – ensures Old Trafford is a potential destination.

Mourinho (right) has made no secret of his desire to return to England. Only the managers whose job security is threatened by his availability will not welcome the possibility of him reigniting his love affair with the Premier League.

'Marca' was emphatic in its assertion that Mourinho is to leave Madrid, suggesting "the decision has already been taken". It stated on the English translation on its own website: "Relations between the Portuguese manager and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez have broken down completely, and are now practically non-existent. That's the way things are. Mourinho will negotiate his departure from the club in June 2013."

The report went on to say Perez had claimed "Mourinho is cutting his own throat" because of his constant demands for more support in his rows with UEFA and the Spanish FA. These spats have accompanied a deterioration in Madrid's domestic performances, with the Spanish title-holders 11 points adrift of Barcelona.

Mourinho was quizzed on the report of his imminent departure ahead of Madrid's Champions League tie with Ajax tonight. "I am not going to speak about this. Speak to the one who has written the story," he said.

Asked if there was any truth in suggestions his relationship with Perez had broken down, he said: "Ask him. I don't have to say when I spoke with the president. I don't suppose the president will say anything either. We have a very good relationship. But I am not going to try and add to this situation. There is no story."

Coincidentally, a documentary paying tribute to Mourinho was aired on TV last night, during which Ferguson discussed the possibility of 'The Special One' succeeding him at Old Trafford. He said: "He can manage anywhere, absolutely."

Mourinho also responded to Ferguson's comments. "Friends always speak well of each other. His succession isn't near," he said. "It should be in 10 years or so. He is getting better and better. He is stronger all the time. Why should he retire?"

Clearly, only a handful of English clubs could lure a manager of Mourinho's stature. Chelsea would seem possible given they are without a permanent appointment, although he left in 2007 after his relationship with Roman Abramovich soured.

The Portuguese also seemed to marvel at Manchester City's failure in Europe when he engineered their downfall a fortnight ago.

It would seem, at this stage, he has more interest in the City job than the Premier League champions have in him, but his shadow may still irk Mancini.

Mourinho succeeded the City coach at Inter Milan before guiding the Italians to Champions League victory and there did not appear to be much love lost between the men during their recent encounters.

Mourinho suggested it was "not normal" for a side such as City to go out in the group stages in the Champions League and added: "If it was Real Madrid out, the press would not let me return to Madrid."

Having reiterated numerous times his intention to return to England, Mourinho says he has an unfulfilled ambition to win the Champions League with a Premier League side.

"For sure, for sure," he told ITV4. "In my whole career everything was perfect, the only thing I didn't and I hope I can do it one day is to win a Champions League with an English club."

There is now the alluring prospect of both Mourinho and his La Liga nemesis Pep Guardiola going head to head in the Premier League next season. They are likely to be under consideration for the same jobs between now and the summer, both at the top of just about every boardroom's wish list. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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