Despite a recent upturn in the Red Devils’ form, reports suggest former Chelsea FC manager José Mourinho is closing in on a deal to replace Dutchman Louis van Gaal in the Manchester United hotseat.
Manchester United currently lie five points off 4th-placed Arsenal FC in the Premier League table, but a couple of good results following the defeat to Southampton at Old Trafford has brought back some of the optimism of the Red Devils’ supporters.
Louis van Gaal’s future was, unsurprisingly, once again the topic of discussion after the defeat to the Saints, but executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has thus far no intent to replace the former Ajax manager. However, reports in Italy suggest that the situation could change in the near future, with three-time Premier League winning manager José Mourinho said to be close to agreeing a deal with Manchester United.
Sky Sports Italy reporter Alessandro Alciato revealed via his personal Twitter account that a deal was close between Mourinho and United, suggesting that the Portuguese could once again come face to face with his arch rival Pep Guardiola in a derby next season. Mourinho has, of course, faced the Spaniard in the past as Real Madrid manager, and the former FC Barcelona coach remains one of the select few high-profile managers who has a winning head-to-head record against the Portuguese.
@SkySport Mourinho-Manchester United: accordo vicinissimo. Che derby con il City di Guardiola!
— Alessandro Alciato (@AAlciato) February 3, 2016
Alciato did not provide further information about the deal, and as such, it is not clear whether United will wait for the summer to bring Mourinho in or whether they could consider changing managers before the season ends if their top-four spot looks in jeopardy.
Mourinho the obvious choice, but significant obstacle remains his controversial nature
With Manchester City making a statement of intent and signing Pep Guardiola to be their coach from the 2016-2017 season onwards, the balance of power in Manchester looks to be shifting to the blue half. José Mourinho is by far the best available manager in the world at the moment, but his controversial nature and style of football could be holding the Red Devils’ back.
FC Barcelona rejected the former Porto coach in favour of Guardiola for similar reasons in 2008, but the harsh reality for United is that a Guardiola-like fairytale story is extremely unlikely to recur. Although there is resistance within the Old Trafford hierarchy to Mourinho’s appointment, it is perhaps wiser for the Red Devils to gamble on a manager who can achieve success in the short term and bring glory days back to the club.