Two to three years, that’s the time that both Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger seem to have given themselves before they end their respective managerial careers. Although we have heard the “I am quitting” spiel from Sir Fergie a million times before, usually about a year before his contract is set to expire, you can’t help but feel, with the increasing number of wrinkles and liver spots, that the man who has dominated the Premier League might just be telling the truth this time, while Wenger is currently refusing to commit to the club beyond his current deal with Arsenal.
The retirement of two of the Premier League’s most successful and enigmatic characters will bring to an end one of the most intriguing rivalries that the game has ever seen. At it’s peak in the late 1990’s the two men traded insults, mind games, league titles and superb footballing moments. Who could forget Ryan Giggs showing the world that Carlos Valderrama’s love child stuck on his chest after scoring that wonder goal in the FA Cup semi-final or Sylvain Wiltord clinching the title for the Gunners at Old Trafford in 2002? But for those of you that are worrying about who will fill the void left by these two giants of the game it seems that there are two boys coaching in Spain’s La Liga that might just be set to re-ignite the rivalry between the two old foes.
For many of us who have watched Pep Guardiola’s rise in the hot seat at Barcelona and seen the subsequent wars that have been fought between himself and Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, it might seem like an unrealistic target to have both of them dump their current clubs and head over to England at exactly the same time. But guess what? The dream could become a reality.
Jose Mourinho has never hid the fact that he would one day head back to England. In fact ever since he left Stamford Bridge he professed his love of the league, the history of the clubs and the passion of the supporters. The self proclaimed Special One has also set a date for his departure from Madrid, which is this summer. Rumours have been rife for the last year or so that Mourinho would be the man to replace Sir Alex. It was even suggested that United’s owners even told Wayne Rooney that the deal to bring the Portuguese coach to Old Trafford was done after the strikers infamous dummy spit, and it was this news that persuaded him to stay. It is also well known that Sir Alex and Jose are good friends and that they often share a bottle of red while discussing the ins and outs of the football world.
However, with today’s news that Sir Alex Ferguson has said that he will retire in two to three seasons, perhaps the door is open this summer for Jose Mourinho to join Tottenham Hotspur or Chelsea, and then move to Old Trafford in two to three years after he has helped the Lilywhites or Blues win some trophies?
“I miss England and my next job will be in England,” said Mourinho in an interview with Britain’s Sun newspaper. “There is unfinished business. And I think England wants me back, no? It was the most enjoyable time of my career. My Chelsea time was amazing as a football manager and family man. My family and I enjoyed it so much. We made so many friends here. We still keep in touch, we still come back. In football there are a few victories here I would like to repeat. I will talk to my agent and get a project for my career.”
But in what could end up being a bizarre twist of football fate Pep Guardiola has also sounded out his desire to head to England and prove himself in the toughest league in the world. In a recent Four Four Two exposé of the man that has turned the current Barcelona team in to one of the greatest footballing sides of all time, a number of those close to him say that it is only a matter of time before he heads to the Premier League.
“Guardiola has often admitted that he regrets not having played in England and coaching there is firmly part of Pep’s plans,” says respected Spanish journalist Jordi Quixano.
But where will the Spaniard end up? Which of the clubs that will be lining up to get him through the doors will he choose? Surely Liverpool and Arsenal are the two front runners, but will the Merseyside club prove to be enough of a pull for Pep?
“My guess is that even the romantic history of Liverpool doesn’t seduce him,” says Quixano. “Nor would Chelsea as it is currently run.”
Arsenal it is then and I for one can’t wait to see the fireworks.