Monday 22 January 2018

Jose calling the shots in Manchester United deal

Mourinho demanding early access to squad and reassurance about the chain of command

Will Jose Mourinho be at Manchester United next season?
Will Jose Mourinho be at Manchester United next season?
It was reported yesterday that Mourinho has endorsed the signings of 18-year-old Portugal international Renato Sanches and Everton’s John Stones. Photo: Getty

Sam Wallace

Manchester United have finally made their opening move to appoint Jose Mourinho in the last three days, and the next week will be critical if they are to install him as Louis van Gaal's successor at the end of the season.

Mourinho, sacked on December 17 by Chelsea, wants the job, but he has made it clear that he will not take it unless the terms are to his satisfaction. His two key requirements are that the club demonstrate to him that there is stability at the top and a clear structure of command - which is what he feels he was not afforded at Chelsea in his third season.

The 53-year-old also wants to begin his job as soon as this season ends, without negotiations hanging over into the post-season. He wants a clean break from the past and, most importantly, the chance to go into the club, to analyse his squad over the maximum amount of time, to recommend signings and be ready for when the players come back in late July to begin working with the squad.

Louis van Gaal says he will remain at Manchester United next season

Van Gaal has one year left on his contract and has deferred any questions over his future to the United board. The two men are friends from their time working together at Barcelona but there are no concerns on Mourinho's part about taking Van Gaal's job. Mourinho was assistant to the late Bobby Robson at Barcelona and the speed with which the Englishman was removed in 1997, and Van Gaal installed, demonstrated to the junior man that friendships and professional opportunities were strictly separate.

Mourinho has used his time away from football to fulfil many of the commercial commitments that are impossible to accommodate when he is working as a manager. This past week he has been in Europe filming an advertisement directed by a leading Hollywood name for a new global brand he is endorsing. The commercial will air during Euro 2016.

Mourinho's contractual talks will be led by Jorge Mendes, the agent who has been with him throughout his 16-year managerial career. His commercial deals are overseen by American company CAA, which has helped position him as one of the most marketable figures in sport.

Although Old Trafford is the obvious destination for Mourinho, he goes into talks this week with other options if agreement cannot be reached with Ed Woodward, United's chief executive. Mourinho has not ruled out the possibility of taking over at Paris St-Germain, although everything he has said in the past has pointed to him staying in the Premier League, which he feels offers the greatest test of a manager.

He has maintained his promise, made in the statement issued on his behalf by CAA after his sacking by Chelsea in December, that he would not "attend high-profile games" in order to "discourage speculation about his future".

He feels he has acted honourably at all times and has not fuelled any of the growing speculation around his future, or around United.

United have left it late to make an approach, having not wanted any potential move to undermine Van Gaal while he still has a chance of qualifying for the Champions League and winning the FA Cup final.

Were talks with Mourinho to be successful, it is anticipated that they would be concluded within the next two weeks and that an announcement would be made at the end of the season.

It was reported yesterday that Mourinho has endorsed the signings of 18-year-old Portugal international Renato Sanches and Everton's John Stones. Other major questions, such as the future of Van Gaal's assistant, Ryan Giggs, who also served under David Moyes, remain unresolved and will be part of further discussions.

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