From speculation to reality; Manchester United is set to announce the appointment of former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho as their next manager, The BBC has reported.
The pending appointment of Mourinho comes after their current coach Dutchman Louis Van Gaal failed to help United qualify to the Champions League for next season, despite winning the FA Cup this weekend over Crystal Palace.
In the post-match news conference following United’s FA Cup win, the Dutchman said: “I show you the cup and I don’t discuss it [my future] with my friends of the media, who already sacked me for six months. Which manager can do what I have done?”
64-year old Van Gaal still has one season remaining on his three-year deal, but despite spending £250m on new players, his tenure has disappointed many fans, the club finishing fourth and then fifth in the Premier League.
Van Gaal’s grip on his job has seemed increasingly fragile this season, with Mourinho known to covet the task of masterminding a revival at United three years after legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down.
53-year old Mourinho attended boxer David Haye’s fight in London on Saturday evening but repeatedly declined to comment on whether he was about to succeed Van Gaal.
Mourinho is one of the game’s most successful coaches, winning three league titles in his two spells at Stamford Bridge, as well as guiding Porto and Inter Milan to Champions League victories in 2004 and 2010 respectively.
He also led Real Madrid to the Spanish La Liga title in 2012, and his arrival will mean a mouthwatering resumption of his rivalry with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard will take over at United’s arch-rivals Manchester City this summer.
At the same time, however, Mourinho was sacked at Stamford Bridge after a dismal run of nine defeats in 16 games. By the time he left, Chelsea were 1 point above relegation.
Having sacked previous manager David Moyes just 10 months after he succeeded Ferguson, United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward was desperate for Van Gaal to see out his contract.
But Mourinho will not find open hands at Old Trafford after some senior managers have quietly expressed reservations about the prospect of the controversial Mourinho. Some senior managers are understood to have preferred Ryan Giggs as an alternative.
The Welshman, who made a record 963 appearances for the club, took over as manager on an interim basis in April 2014 following the sacking of Moyes, and was understood to be keen on the job.