MANCHESTER - Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has promised not to stand in the way of long-time assistant Rui Faria should he pursue ambitions of becoming a manager in his own right.
United's bitter rivals Liverpool secured their place in the Champions League final on Wednesday after a turbulent week that saw Jurgen Klopp's assistant for the past 17 years, Zeljko Buvac, leave the club.
Buvac now leads the betting to become the man to succeed Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager at the end of the season, a role Faria has also been linked with.
Faria, like Mourinho, never played top-level football, but became a significant part of Mourinho's coaching staff after meeting the future United manager during a seminar day at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium in 2000.
At the time, Mourinho was assistant to Louis van Gaal at Barcelona but, when he became a manager in his own right at Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria in 2001, he took Faria on as his fitness coach, and the two remained together for spells at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
However, Faria's touchline antics have also made him a controversial figure. In 2014 he was handed a four-game stadium ban for using abusive language towards the officials in a shock 2-1 home defeat for Chelsea at the hands of Sunderland.
"You ask me if I think it would be a good fit and I say 'yes'. And I say it because he is more than my assistant, he is my friend," said Mourinho of Faria's credentials for the Arsenal job.
"If my friend has the possibility one day of a big job, I would help him to pack and to carry the bags and to wish him luck.
"So if one day that is going to happen, the first one to be happy would probably be myself because I met him when he was a kid in his university and we were together for 18 years."
Martial, Rashford 'trusted'
Mourinho also said he has full trust in both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to play up front as Romelu Lukaku recovers from an ankle injury.
The Belgium striker is recovering from a knock sustained during last weekend’s 2-1 win over Arsenal and is facing a battle to get fit for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 19.
Martial's long-term future has been the subject of speculation in recent weeks, as he has completed 90 minutes in the Premier League just once since February 11.
Reports from his native France in April suggested that Martial wanted to leave Old Trafford, having seen his opportunities to play restricted since the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in January.
The forward’s place in France's World Cup squad is far from assured, given that coach Didier Deschamps has significant attacking options and did not select him for their decisive qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus last autumn.
Rashford has made only two Premier League starts in 2018, although Mourinho has made clear in the past that he does not feel the forward needs to be playing regularly at club level to ensure a place in England’s squad for the finals in Russia.
"They have had limited opportunities because Romelu has played all the games this season," said Mourinho of United's top scorer, who has netted 27 times in his debut season at Old Trafford.
"He was playing well and was playing the way I wanted him to play and has had no injuries, no suspensions. But I do trust them, no problem."