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London – When Manchester United eventually begin the search for Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor, it will be impossible to ignore the appeal of one outstanding candidate.
Jose Mourinho, the trophy-hunting manager in charge of Real Madrid, is a money-making machine for Los Blancos.
Since his arrival at Real Madrid in 2010 after winning the European Cup with Inter Milan, the Spanish club’s commercial revenues have gone through the roof.
Real’s income from shirt sponsorship, kit deals and other commerical contracts were £123million a year when he joined and increased to £151.4m by 2012. When their new kit deal with shirt suppliers adidas, which has been extended until 2019-20, kicks in next season, along with a new sponsor on the front, there will be another significant jump.
United, the third biggest club in Europe, have been making huge strides in this area in the same period, but without the main man it is impossible to catch Real.
Commercial revenue at United last season totalled £117m a year, but even with the new shirt deal with American firm Chevrolet in 2014-15 they will still be a long way behind the Bernabeu brand.
Everybody wants a piece of the most wanted manager in world football after Real’s dramatic Champions League win at Old Trafford on Tuesday. His commercial appeal is an added attraction.
With the exception of Pep Guardiola, who will coach Bayern Munich next season, there is no other manager in the game who can provide premium commercial benefits. That aspect will have already been noted right at the very top, particularly by United’s new incoming chief executive Ed Woodward.
He is a Glazer man, promoted into a role overseeing the day-to-day operations at Old Trafford and working alongside Ferguson to help facilitate transfers. One day he will be asked to nominate the manager’s successor.
Despite the reservations of Sir Bobby Charlton, an influential voice in the boardroom, Mourinho is made for United. He has been in the court of Ferguson over the past few days and was careful with his words throughout his stay in Manchester.
Mourinho spent most of the time in deference to United’s manager, calling him ‘the best’ on a number of occasions. He has given the impression that he has become entranced by Ferguson, turning him into a mythical figure.
The Portuguese coach insisted before the first leg in the Bernabeu last month that it would be “impossible” to manage United because he did not believe Ferguson will ever retire. “He will go on for another 20 years and I will not be managing when I am 70,” claimed Mourinho.
During his mandatory Uefa press conference on Monday he had changed his mind. “As long as God gives me my health, I will be a coach,” was Mourinho’s response to a question about the recent passing of his 50th birthday.
On Tuesday he spent 45 minutes with Ferguson in the manager’s office at Old Trafford as the players warmed up. There, Mourinho revealed, they were relaxed and chatty in each other’s company as they shared anecdotes before the biggest match of the season.
After Real had snatched a 2-1 win, Ferguson’s mood had soured, but Mourinho remained on message. He even said the best team had lost, adding: “We didn’t play well and we didn’t deserve to win.”
He defended Ferguson’s decision to drop Wayne Rooney and said: “Sir Alex has won the right for every decision to be correct and never have a question mark against them. He is the best. He is the top.”
They are firm friends, strengthening their relationship when they took tea at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester before Real played City in the Champions League last November.
It was there that they surely aired their mutual dislike of Chelsea’s interim manager Rafa Benitez. A few days later, Ferguson attacked Benitez for claiming the Club World Cup as a personal achievement after winning it with Mourinho’s Inter team in 2010.
The love-in continued when Ferguson admitted in an ITV4 documentary that Mourinho has what it takes to become manager of United.
Despite his ambition to win the Champions League with Real and create history by becoming the first coach to lift it in three different counties, Mourinho is still expected to leave at the end of the season. “After Madrid, my next job will be in England,” he claimed last month.
It might, just might, be at Manchester United. – Daily Mail