Jose Mourinho has agreed to become manager of Manchester United, according to reports last night.
Louis van Gaal’s uncomfortable two-year residency was brought to an end on Monday, with FA Cup glory unable to mask poor Premier League performances in terms of style and substance.
Talks began with Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes the following day and it is understood an agreement is in place for the former Chelsea manager to take the reins at Old Trafford.
Minor details are being ironed out but it is a case of when rather than if the Portuguese is appointed manager.
Official confirmation looks likely today after this week’s negotiations were delayed due to discussions over Mourinho’s image rights.
European Union Intellectual Property Office records show former club Chelsea own the trademark to ‘Jose Mourinho’ for a number of goods up until 2023 and 2025 respectively.
Chelsea refused to comment on the matter, but, given they retained the trademark when Mourinho managed Inter Milan and then Real Madrid, it never looked a serious barrier to the deal.
The Portuguese called United a “monster club” in October but they, much like their new manager, have reputations to rebuild. Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge came to an embarrassing end in December, with the Premier League champions looking to beat the drop rather than retain their crown when he departed.
A ninth league loss in 16 matches spelled the end of his reign, which the club’s technical director Michael Emenalo pinned on “palpable discord” between the manager and his players.
Mourinho was swiftly linked with the United job as pressure mounted on Van Gaal, the man he once assisted at Barcelona.
The divisive Dutchman saw out the season despite that scrutiny and ended on a high, beating Crystal Palace 2-1 after extra-time in Saturday’s FA Cup final. However, that did not make up for the pain of missing out on Champions League football, with United having wasted the chance to usurp neighbours Manchester City and sneak into the top four.
Europa League football awaits as a result but Mourinho’s arrival and United’s standing mean big-name signings remain on the cards.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who the Portuguese managed at Inter Milan, is one such player and yesterday signalled a move to Old Trafford could be on the cards.
The Sweden striker is leaving Paris St Germain this summer and confirmed he has had “concrete offers” from Premier League clubs.
Ibrahimovic did not mention United specifically but spoke of his admiration for and “great relationship” with his former boss Mourinho.
And when asked if there had been an offer from the Old Trafford outfit, Ibrahimovic paused for several seconds with a smile on his face, before saying: “Let’s see what happens”.
Asked if he has spoken to Mourinho in the past week, the 34-year-old frontman said: “I have spoken with him every day since I left Inter Milan.
“I have a great relationship with Mourinho and we are in contact, but not in the last weeks – we have been talking for many years.”
Regarding the prospect of Mourinho taking over at United, Ibrahimovic said: “I think it is a great move – if you want action you bring Mourinho.
“I believe he is the man to take them back to the top.
“Wherever he went he has won. He knows what he is doing. If you want to win, you bring Mourinho.
“I had a fantastic time with him when I was working with him – so working again with him…?
“When I left Inter I said we had had a short time together but a great time. If we will work together again, I don’t know. Let’s see how things play out. I don’t give guarantees – but there are concrete offers from the Premier League, so let’s see what happens.”
There are not only questions over the make-up of Mourinho’s squad but also his backroom team, with Ryan Giggs reportedly considering ending his near 29-year association with the club.
It is understood United’s most decorated player has an offer to stay on, although it is unclear what that role would be having been assistant to Van Gaal.
No confirmation on the fate of the rest of Van Gaal’s backroom team has yet been forthcoming.