Decrypting the José Mourinho rumour machine

March 27, 2016 Tags: , Opinion 15 comments
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So it’s going to be José. If reports emanating from Spain this week are believed the deal for Mourinho to join Manchester United this summer is done bar the ink on the contract. Diego Torres of El País claims that the Portuguese is certain to join the club having already signed a “pre-contract.”

According to Torres, the former-Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Porto manager will be due around £15 million in compensation if he is not appointed by 1 June – £5 million if he has not joined by 1 May; a further £10 million awaits a month later.

This kind of arrangement is a strange phenomenon in English football – a rumour that many take with a pinch of salt – although one that United may have entered into previously. David De Gea was rumoured to be owed compensation by Real Madrid if he was not signed by the end of last summer’s transfer window. Cristiano Ronaldo supposedly signed something similar with the Spanish club when he was still at Old Trafford.

The fact the reports come from Spain offers some credibility. After all, Real Madrid has strong connections to El País, and may be motivated to place the story considering Los Merengues’ interest in potentially bringing Mourinho back to the Bernabeu next season.

Still, on the face of it, this is a bizarre move by Ed Woodward, and perhaps another great piece of business by Mourinho’s agent, the super-powered Jorge Mendes. The latter seemingly holds a strong power over Woodward, or at least retains a good friendship.

The pre-contract, should it exist, has seemingly helped pave the way for negotiations with Mourinho to begin. If further reports are anything to go by – despite being reported in The Sun – the Portuguese’s £20 million-a-year salary will eclipse that earned by Pep Guardiola across town at Manchester City. Woodward 1-0 Abu Dhabi.

The best reason to believe this week’s speculation? Gianluca Di Marzio reported definitively that Mourinho will be United’s next manager. Di Marzio has proven, in recent times, to be the most accurate and reliable source of transfer news on the planet. As far as taking tabloid rumours seriously goes, this is the best material available.

Yet, a wider question is raised by the week of speculation: if the payment clause is in place, what exactly motivated Woodward and United to risk paying Mourinho lavish amounts, simply not to hire him? After all, Mourinho clearly wants the United job above all, while the Portuguese is unlikely to secure a better offer elsewhere. Mourinho at United is a deal that should suits both parties.

"Gianluca Di Marzio reported definitively that Mourinho will be the United’s manager. Di Marzio has proven, in recent times, to be the most accurate and reliable source of transfer news."

The promise of Madrid might be a partial answer, although it is not an entirely logical observation. After all, Mourinho has a fractured relationship with club’s hierarchy, players and fans, including captain Sergio Ramos. It is a scenario that makes a return difficult, even if el presidente Florentino Pérez does have a change of heart and tries to bring his former manager back. As ever at Madrid, it really comes down to want Perez wants.

Alternatively, Woodward may have been hoodwinked by Mendes yet again. In purely hypothetical terms, Woodward may well be waiting until the club cannot make the Champions League to fire Louis van Gaal, executing a clause in the Dutchman’s contract that enables a payout cheaper than the £10 the club would otherwise owe. It is a strategy that United used to brutal effect with David Moyes.

United’s league position and points tally make this a problematic scenario though, with the Reds a point behind Manchester City with eight games to go. There are four league games in April – United host Everton, travel to Tottenham Hotspur, and then play Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford to finish the month.

In other words, it is more than likely that Van Gaal’s side will not be eliminated from Champions League contention before the first ‘Mourinho clause’ is triggered. Indeed, it might require a December-like disaster including four defeats for Van Gaal to be fired before April is out. And the Reds have a good record against the clubs inside the top 10, while Villa and Palace’s form is such that even this United side will feel confident of picking up points.

The foregone conclusion is that Mourinho is coming this summer – and despite Woodward’s continued incompetence Atlético Madrid’s Andrea Berta, another Mendes client, will likely join him in Manchester. Yet, the wisdom of promising Mourinho money based on his arrival date continues to raise eyebrows, although it is not surprising.

Woodward’s record when it comes to running the football side of the club is patch. In time this episode may be added to the list of non-commercial calamities that Woodward has overseen in the past three years – especially if he does not get the Mourinho deal done in time to save the club from further public embarrassment.


Subterranean Steve - March 27, 2016 Reply

When I started reading the article I thought that next Friday had come early and Olaf was in the building. If there is any truth in this story then Ed Wudwud has really excelled himself. To say that Mourinho is in a strong win-win situation is an understatement. What a circus.

On the slight chance that this story is leakage from a parallel universe and there is still some sanity in this world, I offer some thoughts and questions.

Twenty five years as a player and coach in the first team has given Ryan Giggs the chance of a quite unique insight at United – he’s the ultimate football club insider. If he doesn’t know how things ought to be done at United, what works what fails, then nobody does. He has a wealth of experience observing Ferguson, Moyes and van Gaal in action.

Forget the “he needs to go away and learn his trade elsewhere” notion. What good has that done the likes of Bruce, Hughes, Robson, Solskjaer, Keane and Ince? They have all been sacked from lesser jobs and will never manage United. Moyes spent fifteen years as a manager, mainly at Everton. Did that prepare him sufficiently for the United job?

Does being an assistant coach under van Gaal automatically weaken Giggs’ position? Why should it? Van Gaal is an arrogant control freak and he alone is responsible for the mess caused under his stewardship, no-one else.

Which is better for United? A rookie manager with long-term aspirations, a living part of the Club’s history and tradition and with Sir Alex’s private number, or another galactico managerial import parachuted in at great expense for a three year stint? In Mourinho’s case, a man sacked by Chelsea under troubling circumstances and who has no record of a commitment to youth.

What of Giggs, the man? Does he have the character for the top job? Is he a leader and a motivator? Has he an astute footballing brain? Gary Neville has always looked like potential manager material, but Giggsy? Supremely gifted footballers rarely make top managers – the great Johann Cruyff was an exception. Most top managers were only good/very good players but had other attributes. Perhaps Giggs does have the skills and is adopting a softly-softly approach whilst van Gaal is occupying the hot seat.

Giggs as manager is something of an unknown, but is giving him the job really any greater risk than bringing in yet another outsider at great expense?

Adam Joseph - March 28, 2016 Reply

think you’ve really answered your own question as to why he shouldn’t be the manager with your whole response.

Ally2016 - March 28, 2016 Reply

“In Mourinho’s case, a man sacked by Chelsea”

In fact, in Mourinho’s case, a man that has won 22 trophies including 2 CLs against Giggs’s nil. You must be a relative or a friend or a fanatic supporter of Giggs to write such a nonsensical drivel. According to your logic, Giggs is not responsible for the previous disastrous years at which he was employed by United. The question that this notion brings up is this: What has Giggs learnt then if he is not part of the most appalling management set-up United has ever seen? Let me tell you something: The sooner Giggs and his clueless boss are out, the better! This is a vies shared by the majority of uNITED SUPPORTERS.

devilinthisguy - March 28, 2016 Reply

15million incase we don’t hire him? Funny thing is no guarantee Mourinho be any better. LVG was successful b4 United as well. Moyes was having a decent run in Everton before United. So we already tried bringing a high profile manager and that hasn’t worked out. JM doesn’t guarantee trophies not at United anyways.

Kevin - March 28, 2016 Reply

We had better not start examining personal values if Giggs is the choice. He’s failed that test.

dozer - March 28, 2016 Reply

Sort out the forum pls. Seems dead.

Redzebs - March 28, 2016 Reply

Yeah I tweeted the boys, Paul says that’s Ed’s department, one picture of Moyes put up in a third new part to the forum and the whole thing blows up 😂

Eric - March 28, 2016 Reply

Mourinho might be unlikely to secure a better job elsewhere, but Woodward may be looking elsewhere.

If Pocchetino wins the league with spurs and would come to united. I’d take Pocchetino over Mourinho. Maybe that’s worth £15 million to wait and find out?

Simon - March 28, 2016 Reply

Good article but I dispute the so called fractured relationships. Mourinho doesn’t have a fractured relationship with Real Madrid’s hierarchy. In fact he has kept in touch with Florentino Pérez all these years. They exchange messages all the time. As for the players it’s only a few of them (Casillas, Pepe, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos). The vast majority don’t have any problems with Mou. Everybody saw Ozil give an Arsenal shirt to Jose as a tribute to him. Allonso, Arbeloa Varane and many others say wonderful things about Mou. The fans are divided. There’s a huge section who still love Mourinho and the ones who disliked him have finally realized that in eight long years they only won La Liga with Jose. The only fractured relationship that may still remain is with the media which waged a huge campaign against him thanks to Casillas and his journalist girlfriend.

Seaniem - March 28, 2016 Reply

Good article. Think that Mourinho is the right choice at this time to stable the ship and get a winning competitive mentality back. No doubt he is not a long term solution but then what club now has a manager more than a few years. The world of football has changed and the attributes required are different. Knowing Manchester United are not that important to the strategy of the club which is to get United back at the top table of European football playing attractive football so that that the glazers can continue monetising the ‘brand’. I agree that for traditional fans like me the thought of Giggs managing United is great but that’s emotional and aspirational and the probability of success is more likely with someone else. Giggs personal life doesn’t come into it. It’s a complete irrelevance. LVG has been a disaster. Archaic rigid joyless buffoon. Even Moyes brought more enjoyable football and he didn’t spend 250m. The problem with United is that it is now reaping the seeds sown by the parsimonious transfer policy employed by the Glazers of which Ferguson and Gill was complicit. No value in the market indeed. What was left was an ageing team of a few superb footballers and a raft of average players. The average players were left after Rio, Vidic, Evra, RVP, Rooney, Fletcher, Scholes et al called it a day. Then of course we let Pogba go to bring Scholesy back out of retirement. Mmmm. Anyway we are where we are as a result of many factors. Transfer policy due to debt, buying of average players, bad managerial appointments, a faltering academy and a massive focus on commercialisation. This is the modern MUFC – suck it up.

Mawuli - March 28, 2016 Reply

We are used to the disappointment, at least for three seasons now. Giggs offers a continuation of a dieing tradition and a future worth experimenting. Why the rush now throwing out cash, team unity, youth and the future by hiring Mourinho?

Opti - March 28, 2016 Reply

Such pre-negotation contracts seem inane… and gives Mourinho way too much power to haggle a crazy salary. I hope and don’t believe this is true…

Pint vulgar - March 28, 2016 Reply

Maureen is / was an absolute ‘no brainer’ ,dont miss out again,talk about gift horses.

Busbybabe - March 28, 2016 Reply

If mourinho was manager united would play 4 6 0 and senior players out of position instead of giving teenagers a run in the team. The process of getting a team to be consistent takes roughly three years something SAF knew and which LVG adheres to. If LVG had been manager we would have kept Pogba as he would have played more often. The problem is consistency and that will be fixed. The future is great. Look beyond the circus. Football has changed. More clubs have money to buy players and coaches so the playing field is now more or less level. Giggs.will be a success as manager. A great day beckons when LVG hands over a group of youngsters who will play with a system that produces players who fit in. Finally to those who think the emergence of Borthwick Jackson and Rashford are fluke events the reason they are successful is that with a small squad like united currently have the younger players spend more time training with the first team so when they are called upon they are ready. None of the top four can rely on youth the way United can. That is the way of the club.

Rejaneesh-pillai - March 29, 2016 Reply

Mourinho is the one who is going to handhold MUFC to more glories after Fergie. There is no doubt that the special one is going to be a big hit at old Trafford. All those who are opposing him now will start praising him by next Christmas..

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