2.8 years. The average amount of time that Jose Mourinho spent at Porto, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and in his two spells at Chelsea. This does not include his lesser-known four-month spell at Benfica and seven-month spell at Uniao de Leiria (no, I’d never heard of them before either). 26 years. That’s how long Sir Alex was at Manchester United. Not even the most optimistic of supporters believe that Mourinho will be at the club anywhere near that length of time, or that any manager will stay at any club that long for that matter, however, there may well be reason to suspect that he’s in it for the long haul, longer than his contract suggests.
Mourinho’s words made for interesting listening at his introductory press conference last week, and he might have given a hint as to what his plans are. “I chase Sir Alex’s record in Champions League matches.” His comments were vague but whether they were with regards games played in the competition or games won, both records are all well within reach; he needs 60 games to beat Ferguson’s number of matches and 31 more wins to hold the Champions League record. Although he doesn’t have to break either record at United, there’s an argument to be had for the idea that the Portuguese may want to break the record of his friend and benchmark at the very club that he garnered his records at. Imagine that at the bare minimum, Mourinho managed to reach the quarterfinals for six seasons consecutively, he could beat Ferguson’s record comfortably with the average amount of wins that would get a team to that point in the competition. Factor in the one year United will be out of the competition – is it plausible that Mourinho could stay for seven seasons?
When questioning whether Mourinho will be at United for a while or merely a short period, one has to think about the remaining options available to the Special One. Prior to his arrival at Old Trafford being officially confirmed, Mourinho mentioned that he wanted “to work… in a hard league”. Does that rule out Bayern and the league that they dominate? That’s up for debate but that’s the only major country that he hasn’t managed in. You’d think that would rule out PSG or dominant teams of that natures in other nations, but what about internationally? Well, it’s no secret that Mourinho wants to manage his home nation in the future, however, international management is often dubbed an old man’s job and it’s thought that Jose sees that as way off in the distance. A return to Real Madrid appeared to be his only realistic alternative to the United job and with their turnover rate of managers they may well come knocking on the door for him again, however, his relationship with the Spanish media casts doubts as to whether he’d want to go there again. With his ever-expanding, CV also comes the dwindling of options, so there’s cause for doubt as to whether he’ll come be in a rush to go elsewhere. Manchester United his last club job before Portugal? A very optimistic outlook but one that’s possible considering he’s finally landed his dream job.
Despite the fan conspiracy theories of an elaborate plan to leave Chelsea for United once he saw van Gaal struggling, it looked as though Mourinho was in it for the long haul the second time around at Stamford Bridge. The introduction of Ruben Loftus-Cheek to the first team, his ambitious comments about the club’s academy prospects and signings of younger players like Bertrand Traore and Kenedy suggested that he planned on staying for many years at the club he loved and the league he admired. As we know, things didn’t go quite to plan, however, Chelsea’s loss is United’s gain and who’s to say that won’t be thinking long-term at the club he dreamt of and still in the league he admired? His plan to include Axel Tuanzebe, Tyrell Warren and potentially a few more youth prospects in the upcoming pre-season match against Wigan hints at an interest in the long-term future of the club and the signing of raw 22-year-old defender Eric Bailly shows that he’s not merely aiming for instantaneous success but wants the club enjoying such over an extended period of time. It looks as though United could be for Mourinho the long-term role club job that Chelsea was supposed to be.
On the flip side, though, if you’re looking for reasons as to why his stint with the Red Devils will be short then you don’t need to look hard. A look at his past shows that he doesn’t stay anywhere for very long and not only that but that he leaves a trail of disharmony after he’s gone. No one knows what his career plans are nor how his success or lack thereof could shorten his stay; never have United had a manager that potentially sees their future elsewhere beyond the club. This time around it just doesn’t feel the same, though; the club ethos and the stage of his career suggest that Mourinho could stay beyond his current three-year deal. Journalist Duncan Castles recently claimed that had the club offered him a six-year contract he would’ve signed it; although the club had every right to be cautious with the length of the deal, there are promising signs that they’ll be renegotiating before long.
As Jose Mourinho has been fine with acknowledging – he was just sacked; with a chip on his shoulder and, against his own opinion – a point to prove, it looks like perfect timing for Manchester United as far as Jose Mourinho is concerned.