It was the 10th day of March, 2004. The setting was the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. Costinha had just equalized in stoppage time for FC Porto thus knocking out Manchester United of the Champions League and advancing to the final eight in Europe’s most coveted club competition.
Enter Porto boss Jose Mario dos Santos Felix Mourinho, or as we more commonly know him, Jose Mourinho. Most will remember, “The Special One” famously running the length of the pitch to celebrate with the Porto players, an ecstatic Mourinho ran and lept as a disgruntled Sir Alex Ferguson sat irate at Tim Howard for setting up Costinha for the eventual decisive goal. Porto went on to lift the European Cup that year, it was their first win of the Cup since their last triumph in the 1986-87 season.
Mourinho’s celebration was to be the beginning of a love/hate affair fans of the Premier League were to have with Mourinho over the next few years. After Porto won the Champions League, Mourinho left for a bigger challenge taking over for Claudio Ranieri at that newly “funded” Chelsea FC. Fast forward two consecutive Premier League trophies (Mourinho ended up winning six trophies at Chelsea from 2004-07) and you’ve got one of the most tactically sound, outspoken, but well respected managers in world football.
Yet again, the 2009 calendar year has heard Mourinho express his desire to return to England. This most recent statement makes what must be the third or fourth time this year Mourinho has openly spoken of his desire to make his return. So, what do we know? Mourinho and the Premier League fit together better than peanut butter and jelly – only in the media-hyped UK can Mourinho really feel at home with his mind games, sound bites and outspoken relationship with the media. But where will he go? Let’s take a look at some possibilities:
- Manchester United – Mourinho has also openly stated his admiration for the current champions, but Sir Alex Ferguson seems poised to stay at United’s helm for at least a few more years
- Chelsea – I really don’t see this happening. Carlo Ancelotti has a very strong Chelsea in position to win the league in his first year in charge. Mourinho left Chelsea on bad terms with the top brass.
- Manchester City – the money is definitely there, but Roberto Mancini is already 2-0, and talking about winning the league with City. No chance, unless City under Mancini have a meltdown.
- Liverpool – before Mourinho took the Chelsea job, he spoke admirably about Liverpool’s rich history and winning tradition. Liverpool is a definite possibility if Benitez can’t right the ship. Mourinho could be a strong persuading factor for star players like Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay in Merseyside if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League.
- Arsenal – no chance, Wenger looks set to keep his beautiful-football-playing Gunners for quite some time.
- Clubs like Aston Villa, Fulham, Tottenham and even Birmingham City are all having great seasons this year. At this point in time, they’ve no real reason to make a disruptive managerial change.
Jose Mourinho’s return to English football is inevitable, he’s said it numerous times and we all know he left Chelsea well before he really wanted to. But where does he fit in? Which club in England’s top flight will be the lucky recipient of The Special One?