Sunday 22 April 2018

Jose Mourinho planning for life as Manchester United manager

United have not denied reports that talks have been held with representatives of Mourinho. Photo: PA
United have not denied reports that talks have been held with representatives of Mourinho. Photo: PA

Matt Law​

Jose Mourinho is convinced that the Manchester United job is his if the club sack Louis van Gaal at the end of the season.

The former Chelsea manager is understood to have told friends that he expects to resume work in the summer at Old Trafford.

United have not denied reports that talks have been held with representatives of Mourinho (right), and the Portuguese has already started to plan how he would shape the club's squad and identify transfer targets.

No deal has yet been agreed and United have also been linked with Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino, Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone and Juventus' Massimiliano Allegri.

However, a well-placed source said: "Mourinho's going to Manchester United. It's a done deal. Chelsea is the only big job up for grabs."

Mourinho is desperate to stay in England and sees United as the perfect place to resume his career after being sacked by Chelsea in December.

He will relish the chance to go head-to-head with Pep Guardiola, who will take over at Manchester City, and the arrival of the Spaniard to the Premier League has put pressure on United to respond.

Mourinho and Guardiola were fierce rivals in Spain when they managed Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, and the prospect of the pair locking horns again is hugely appealing to the Premier League and its global audience.

Doubts remain within the corridors of power at Old Trafford over Mourinho's combative approach and his style of football, but the need to win and to try to stop City and Guardiola dominating English and European football appears to be outweighing the traditionalist views.

Van Gaal has become angry at the constant speculation over his job that United have done little to attempt to stop and the suggestions that Mourinho has already been lined up to succeed him.

United are six points behind fourth-placed City in the Premier League table and Van Gaal is unlikely to survive should the club miss out on Champions League qualification next season, having failed to get out of the group stages this term.

The arrival of Mourinho would place a question mark over the future of United assistant manager Ryan Giggs (right), who may well look to start his full managerial career elsewhere.

Mourinho would want to take his Portuguese No 2, Rui Faria, with him to United.

A United move for Mourinho would leave the way clear for Chelsea to attempt to bring Allegri to England, with Simeone believed to favour remaining at Atletico and planning a bid to take Diego Costa back to Spain.

Allegri has been learning English in anticipation of an eventual move to the Premier League and is seen by some inside Stamford Bridge as the kind of calming influence the club need after Mourinho.

Allegri's style has been compared to that of his Italian compatriot Carlo Ancelotti, who won a Premier League and FA Cup double at Chelsea and remains hugely popular at the club.

Juventus general manager Beppe Marotta has questioned why Allegri would want to move to Chelsea, but a mentor of the 48-year-old believes he will move.

Giovanni Galeone, who managed Allegri at Pescara, said: "I think Max will go to Chelsea and will do very well. Allegri is doing incredible things, even if the club failed to buy the players he requested last summer, from Mario Gotze to Isco.

"He will leave Italy and I see him going to England because the deal Roman Abramovich has offered is really fantastic.

"As one of the five best coaches in the world, he has to leave Juventus. It makes no sense for him to stay in Italy."

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will firmly reject any approach from United or Chelsea for Pochettino, who still has three-and-a-half years remaining on his contract.

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