Mourinho in danger of slipping off elite merry-go-round
For more than a decade, Jose Mourinho has been one of the select few coaches whose names invariably crop up when a vacancy arises at one of Europe’e elite clubs.
But after his unhappy two years at Manchester United, the Portuguese may have fallen off that privileged merry-go-round.
Until recently Mourinho was regarded as a master tactician and supreme motivator and with 20 major trophies as a manager, including two at United, a reliable provider of silverware.
But all that is in danger of being tarnished by United’s fall from grace and his incessant moaning about his own players.
He leaves Old Trafford with United 19 points off the top of the Premier League and playing a brand of football that has been left behind by the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.
It is hard to imagine his name being in the mix with the likes of Massimiliano Allegri, Diego Simeone, Thomas Tuchel, Juergen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino or Maurizio Sarri next time one of the top jobs come up.
Mourinho‘s dogmatically defensive tactics look outdated compared to Pochettino’s progressive pressing game at Tottenham Hotspur, Klopp’s so-called “heavy metal football” that has put Liverpool top of the Premier League, Sarri’s intricate passing patterns at Chelsea or Allegri’s versatility at Juventus.
So where does Mourinho go next?
The first thing Mourinho should probably do is take a break, give himself a rest from a game he no longer seems to enjoy — and also give the game a rest from him.
After that, he can turn to his agent Jorge Mendes, one of the best-connected men in football, to find him a new challenge.
One option that stands out is Mourinho‘s former club Inter Milan, who have big ambitions under new Chinese ownership to challenge Juventus’ dominance of Italian football.
Mourinho won a Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia treble in 2010 during his previous stint at the club.
Other options open to him would include a national team — although his own Portugal are well-served with Fernando Santos until at least Euro 2020 — and there is always the temptation of a money-making move to China.
REUTERS/Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Martyn Herman