Jose Mourinho's next job: Man United, Real Madrid, PSG, Roma, Portugal?
Pep Guardiola may be the most sought-after coach in world football but Jose Mourinho isn't far behind him. After leaving Chelsea last week, Mourinho has been linked with a host of top jobs. Here, we look at who is the best fit for him.
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Louis van Gaal's tenure at Old Trafford is less than secure, with sources telling ESPN FC that Mourinho has been in contact with United over a possible vacancy in the near future. And if some reports are to be believed then Van Gaal has just a few games to save his job after failing to instil his possession-based philosophy at the club, boring the fans to tears in the process.
Mourinho could have replaced Sir Alex Ferguson following the Scot's retirement back in 2013 but he opted to return to Chelsea instead as United appointed David Moyes. However, Mourinho has always considered United a "big club" and a position that he would be interested in taking at some point in his career. Now seems to be that time, as United look to fix two poor appointments since Fergie's departure.
The one caveat would be the situation surrounding Ryan Giggs. United view him as a future manager, but would he be happy to remain as assistant under Mourinho once Van Gaal has been let go? United fans want to "attack, attack, attack" and Jose can certainly do that, but he usually prefers to park a bus or two and focus on defence first. For that reason, he may not be the long-term solution, though could perform an important role in stabilising the floundering club, which is without a win in the past six matches.
Chances: Mourinho's first choice, but United may try and rival Manchester City for Pep Guardiola first if they choose to sack Van Gaal.
With reports suggesting that Rafael Benitez's future is under consideration at Madrid, a return to the Bernabeu could be a possibility for Mourinho during the winter break. Fans have been unhappy with recent Madrid performances and bizarrely jeered their own team in the 10-2 destruction of nine-man Rayo Vallecano at the weekend.
While the players must shoulder responsibility for their failure to take command of La Liga this season (they sit third, two points behind leaders Barcelona having played a game more), Benitez's tactics and working relationship with his Galacticos is under the spotlight. Mourinho would welcome a return to one of the biggest clubs in world football, but will be wary of the task that awaits him. Having fallen out with Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos during his last season at the club, a recent Marca poll revealed that 52 percent of fans don't want to see the Portuguese return.
Having experienced first-hand what effect a poisonous dressing room can have on a club, Mourinho may think twice about what Madrid has to offer him. At this stage of his career, he may not want to try another comeback following his ill-fated second spell at Chelsea and if there is to be a change at the Bernabeu then it's likely to mean club legend Zinedine Zidane given a chance to shine.
Chances: Real Madrid need to change the atmosphere at the club and Mourinho's return would not help that. He would be foolish to go back.
A new challenge in France would virtually guarantee Mourinho another title on different soil, something he is keen to achieve having already won in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain. PSG would offer him the cash to buy pretty much whoever he wants, while also allowing him to work with high quality players like Angel Di Maria, Edison Cavani and Thiago Silva. A reunion with David Luiz (who he sold to PSG from Chelsea for £50 million in 2014) would be headline-grabbing, but the French club seem to be the best fit for Mourinho's style of play.
Success in the Champions League is key for a club trying to establish themselves as major players in Europe and although coach Laurent Blanc has brought great success to the French capital, including the last three league titles, if they fail to reach the final this season, there may be an opening this summer.
Chances: PSG won't sack Blanc immediately to get Mourinho but a summer move could be in offing.
A return to Italy would be an interesting decision, having found great success with Inter Milan as he led them to the Treble in 2010. Serie A's title race this season is one of the most interesting in recent years, but Mourinho might see Roma as a step down -- they haven't won the league since 2001 -- and is perhaps not yet willing to do so at this stage of his career.
Currently in fifth place (four points off leaders Inter), Roma have struggled this season and crashed out of the Coppa Italia to Serie B side Spezia last week. As a result, the future of coach Rudi Garcia is up for discussion -- indeed, reports suggested that Mourinho had dinner with Roma owner James Palotta recently -- but his strong bond with Inter suggests that he would reject any chance to return to Italy.
Chances: Unlikely. It's a step down in quality and a club which he does not hold in as high regard as Inter.
"I would love to be the national team coach one day. I think the Portuguese people are waiting for that to happen," Mourinho said back in 2013. It is clear that the Portugal job is one on his list. However, it may be too early for him. Having almost taken the England job in 2007-08 before Fabio Capello was appointed, Mourinho has a desire to coach a national team, but has said he would never take it if it was a part-time role while juggling a club commitment.
Right now, the Portuguese has his eyes fixed on more success in domestic football and Portugal are not looking to make a change before Euro 2016. Yet current coach Fernando Santos will be under pressure to qualify from a group containing Austria, Hungary and Iceland, and anything less than a semifinal appearance could see a change made in the summer. Mourinho could be the man to get them over the final hurdle required to finally win a major trophy, but it probably won't be for a while.
Chances: In the future? Very high, but not right now. Don't be surprised if Mourinho is in charge for the 2018 World Cup, though.
David Beckham's plans to create a new Major League Soccer team in Miami are gathering pace and the former England captain has already targeted Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But every club needs a manager and Beckham is clearly a big fan of Mourinho. Asked about the Portuguese after his exit from Chelsea, Beckham said: "I hope he comes back quickly because the English public love him, the fans love seeing him on the sidelines and they love his character, so it is a shame to see him leave."
So perhaps a move to America isn't in the offing right now, but if Beckham's dreams become a reality then Mourinho would surely relish the challenge of managing in MLS.
Chances: Zero, given there's not actually a team to go to right now, but a move to America is likely at some point during his career.
Jon is a senior editor of ESPN FC, based in London.