London, United Kingdom | AFP |
Jose Mourinho was expected to join Manchester United on Friday after drawn-out negotiations, marrying one of the world’s richest clubs with one of the most successful — and outspoken — managers.
Mourinho has been in talks with United since Louis van Gaal’s sacking on Monday and British media claimed an agreement is now in place for the former Chelsea boss to fulfil his long-held ambition to manage the Premier League club.
United are now set to officially confirm the 53-year-old’s appointment after the deal was delayed due to discussions over Mourinho’s image rights.
The 20-time Premier League champions have turned to Mourinho after a frustrating spell since the retirement of Alex Ferguson, with first David Moyes and then van Gaal failing to restore former glories.
Mourinho, who has won the Champions League with both Porto and Inter Milan, is said to have been offered a three-year contract that will pay him between £10 million ($14 million, 13 million euros) and £15 million per season.
It was also reported Mourinho, who was sacked by Chelsea in December, is set to be given bonuses that will pay £5 million and £2.5 million respectively if he leads United to the Champions League or Premier League title.
Talks between Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes and United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward have resolved problems with Chelsea’s control of his image rights, paving the way for the charismatic but controversial boss to fulfil his long-held dream of managing the Manchester giants.
Mourinho was seen strolling back to his town house in the upmarket London district of Belgravia wearing a smart black suit and carrying a bag from a wine shop on Thursday, shortly before reports emerged that he had agreed the deal.
Mourinho, always conscious of his public persona, was said to have spent part of Thursday crafting his message to United fans in a statement which will accompany the club’s announcement of the deal.
The former Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Porto boss will take charge of United for the first time when the club face Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai on July 22 on the first leg of a two-game tour of China.
However, Mourinho should appear on the home bench at Old Trafford before then because he is due to take charge of an England XI in a charity game for Unicef against a Rest of the World XI on June 5.
One of the main obstacles to Mourinho’s pursuits of silverware with United will be found across Manchester where his old rival Pep Guardiola is due to start work as City manager next week after moving to Eastlands from Bayern Munich.
Mourinho and Guardiola exchanged barbs throughout their time at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively and the renewal of their bitter feud promises to be one of the most fascinating aspect of the coming season.
Although United legend Eric Cantona this week claimed Mourinho, renowned for his negative tactics, was not a good fit, former defender Rio Ferdinand was quick to welcome his impending arrival.
“I have heard many say the ‘Mourinho way’ is not the Manchester United style of playing football,” Ferdinand said.
“However, the Chelsea team that Jose put together first time round when he entered the Premier League played with wingers and hurt teams with quick attacking play.
“One thing I can tell Manchester United fans is that they have got themselves a true winner in all aspects. His CV shows success.”
United icon Cristiano Ronaldo, now at Real Madrid where he played under Mourinho, added: “I hope United get back to being what they were because it’s an impressive club but in the last years they lacked an identity a bit.”
Mourinho is reported to already be lining up new signings as he seeks to bolster an unbalanced squad that limped to a fifth place finish in the Premier League before ending the unlamented van Gaal era by beating Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Even without the lure of Champions League action next season, Mourinho is hopeful of making several top-class additions.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who worked with Mourinho at Inter Milan, is one target and on Thursday he hinted a move to Old Trafford could be on the cards.
The Sweden striker has left Paris Saint Germain and, asked if there had been an offer from United, Ibrahimovic said with a smile: “I think it’s a great move (by United) — you want action, you bring in Mourinho.
“I don’t give guarantees but there are concrete offers from the Premier League, so let’s see what happens.”