Where next for Mourinho?
Share this article:
There is a common misconception in football that good managers get better with age when the opposite is more often true.
For every Sir Alex Ferguson or Sir Bobby Robson you will find a Sven Goran Eriksson, Louis van Gaal, Fabio Capello, Kenny Dalglish and, sad as it is to say, Arsene Wenger.
For the majority in this energy and emotion-sapping line of work, the passing of time takes its toll. Management is such a complex business and gets harder all the time.
The skills needed now are broader than they used to be.
Ferguson’s judgment of players began to fall away towards the back end of his time at Manchester United but his innate capacity for man management remained strong.
He also had an ability to adjust to changing times.
We do not know yet whether Jose Mourinho will eventually be filed alongside his friend Ferguson or the others.
We know which category he thinks he belongs in but that is a different thing entirely.
He has been a great listen as a pundit on Sky Sports recently but much of what he says has to be placed in the context of what a poor manager he was at Old Trafford.
Mourinho is cute enough to still have friends in the right places and that is one of the reasons his name remains front and centre in the public consciousness.
Routinely he is talked of as the next Tottenham or Arsenal manager even though he would not seem a particularity good fit for two clubs who value long-term planning.
A second spell at Real Madrid is regularly debated.
The Portuguese is only 56 and much about him feels younger.
Nevertheless, the shock and awe methods that once took him places at Chelsea, Inter and indeed Madrid feel outdated now. If Mourinho is to find success again — sustained success rather than an isolated smash and grab trophy or title — he must reinvent himself in terms of his football and his style and it is hard not to suspect that is beyond him.
Some managers see the benefits of, and take satisfaction from, improving players and teams while others care only for winning. We know which category Mourinho belongs in. One of the reasons he grew so unhappy and sour at United was that he quickly realised he was in a battle with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City that he could not win.
To him, second was worth nothing and it began to show.
So, with all this in mind, where does Mourinho go next?
There does not seem to be a Premier League club who would either want or need his unique skillset and clubs who care for their image away from the field, such as Bayern Munich, have come to realise the circus that accompanies him is no longer worth the hassle.
Madrid is possible, of course. Zinedine Zidane is keeping the wolf from the door but there seems an inevitability about what will happen at the Bernabeu if Barcelona were to open any kind of gap at the top of La Liga.
But a return to Madrid would prove nothing other than Mourinho’s enduring desperation to work in the spotlight and Real’s continued fondness for glamour coaches and quick fixes.
It would be nice to imagine Mourinho would pitch up somewhere surprising, a club at which he could show us a different side to himself. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe time has told us there is nothing new to see. Maybe we know it all already.
As Unai Emery struggles to impose his personality and will on his Arsenal team, we are told the club are no longer recognisable.
But what has changed? Arsenal defend poorly, don’t work hard enough, have players of suspect mentality and tend to be wasteful in possession.
I don’t know about you, but that is exactly the kind of Arsenal I feel have been watching for most of the last decade. I would say it is very recognisable indeed.