Thursday 12 December 2019

Jose Mourinho should forget Man United and tell FA he wants England job

The deposed 'Special One' needs a spell away from the coal-face of club football, and revitalising England is the perfect challenge for his ego

Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Luke Edwards

As Jose Mourinho ponders his next move, a ridiculously highly decorated, out-of-work manager waiting for the right club to approach him, he should instead be making it known to the Football Association that he wants to become the next England manager.

Mourinho is ready to move into international management, even if he does not realise it yet.

There is no guarantee England will be looking for a new manager, but equally it is far from certain the one club job he would like more than any other - Manchester United - will be available either, regardless of how bad things seem to have become under Louis van Gaal.

Mourinho is in no rush and has made it clear, both privately and publically, that he wants to stay in this country. However, he does not need to remain in the Premier League. He could become the new figurehead of English football, if the FA do not renew Roy Hodgson’s contract after the European Championships.

The Portuguese’s pride may whisper things to the contrary in his ear, but Mourinho needs to come out of the club football cauldron. He was badly burnt at Chelsea. International football is the ideal way for him to soothe his wounds and the England job is one of the biggest around. That should satisfy his ego, his love of the spotlight and the constant need to be tested.

Mourinho felt the heat at Stamford Bridge and, for the first time in his career, he melted. Things went wrong, and even he possibly does not fully understand the reasons why. Whatever qualities turned him into the most successful club manager on the planet were impotent to arrest arguably the most spectacular decline ever seen in a title-winning side in this country.

The time is right for a new sort of challenge and after losing the plot in such humiliating and bewildering fashion at Stamford Bridge, the 52-year-old needs to consider a new type of role.

For the first time since he became a manager, 16 years ago, Mourinho will benefit from the lack of day-to-day pressure that comes with a club job.

The intermittent contact with his players would be refreshing, after so many years of solving day-to-day problems and soothing the egos of multi-millionaires. It will reinvigorate him, just as it has another highly successful club manager, the Republic of Ireland’s Martin O’Neill, who failed in his last Premier League job at Sunderland,

Should Mourinho bring tournament success to England, which has made serial underachievement its trademark, his status as one of the finest managers to have graced the European game will be assured. As a club manager, he divides opinion, as England’s he could be adored.

Jose Mourinho, former manager of Chelsea watches on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Middlesbrough at The Amex Stadium in Brighton.

If Mourinho still needs persuading, someone should suggest to him that it is what his mentor, Sir Bobby Robson, would have wanted.

Robson nurtured Mourinho, the translator who became a scout, a coach and a must trusted lieutenant. It is not widely known, but Robson would have loved Mourinho to succeed him as Newcastle United manager.

Indeed, he would have done his utmost to persuade the then, not-so-famous Porto boss to take the reins at St James’ Park when he stepped down, if he had not been so unceremoniously dumped just four games into the season by Newcastle in 2004, just months after leading them to three successive top-five finishes.

Mourinho went on to win the Champions League at Porto that season and the rest is now part of the Special One's glittering history. But if Mourinho searches his soul, he will hear Robson’s voice urging him to follow in his footsteps as England manager.

Mourinho says he loves English football, but the biggest thing he can give the game in this country is a successful national team.

It is something we have lacked, with the odd brief exception, since Robson stood down 26 years ago to return to club management with PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona and, of course, Newcastle.

That should remind his former pupil that a move into international management does not mean the end of his club career. It can be a sabbatical. International management will be a new chapter in his story, but not the final one.

Mourinho may well covet the throne at Manchester United and there is every chance the men in suits at Old Trafford, including Sir Alex Ferguson and chief executive Ed Woodward, are contemplating asking him to replace van Gaal at the end of the season. There will be other clubs thinking the same.

But there could be an even more rewarding vacancy on offer to him in July. The FA have, very sensibly given the World Cup debacle two years ago, refused to offer Hodgson a new contract, despite his impressive qualifying campaign.

They want to see how England fare against the best in Europe, rather than just the also-rans, before making a decision.

Mourinho does not need to rush back to work. He can bide his time, safe in the knowledge that his CV will make him irresistible at some point.

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