It is that time of the year again when speculation as to which club Jose Mourinho will be in charge of next season reaches fever pitch, with the man himself more often than not behind the rumours and gossip in the first place. This campaign is no different from past episodes.
Whether it be 2004, 2007, 2010 or 2013, without fail, every three years the self-styled "Special One" will bring down the curtain on an often tumultuous and always memorable relationship with a major European footballing superpower and start making advances toward his next suitor.
On Planet Football at present, it is an open secret that the Portuguese will end his up-and-down association with Real Madrid when Los Blancos’ season eventually grinds to a halt at home to Osasuna in La Liga on June 6.
In fact, just this week respected Spanish radio station Cadena SER reported (via the Express) that Mourinho and the club would after all be sticking to the pre-agreement the two parties came to back in December to officially go their separate ways this summer, with Mou receiving a hefty payoff in the process, despite Madrid’s recent upturn in form.
All of which leaves us wondering just which team Mourinho will be coaching next season, as he has already been linked with a return to Chelsea (according to David Woods of the Daily Star), an inaugural spell in Ligue 1 with big-spending Paris Saint-Germain or even replacing under-pressure Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini at the Ethiad stadium.
Indeed, many observers feel that the latter option would be the perfect fit for both club and coach, but in actual fact, rather than being a match made in heaven, Mourinho at Eastlands would be a marriage made in hell, an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.
Firstly, it is important to remember just who is calling the shots now behind the scenes at the Premier League champions. Long gone is hapless chief executive Garry Cook, replaced by savvy European operators Ferran Soriano (chief executive) and Txiki Begiristain (director of football), both recruited from FC Barcelona (via The Guardian).
Now, this is the same pair who interviewed Mourinho (via The Sun) for the vacant managerial post at Camp Nou in the summer of the 2008, before opting instead to offer the job to a coaching novice by the name of Josep "Pep" Guardiola.
Not only that, but both men also have long associations with a club that not only has Mourinho been waging a war against since his days in charge at Stamford Bridge, but which also belittled the Portuguese by referring to him as a “translator” (via The Guardian) during his time assisting Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal in Catalonia in the mid-to-late '90s.
Not exactly an ideal recipe for long-lasting success, peace and harmony then, is it? And that is even before we get on to Mourinho’s well-known dislike of any interference whatsoever from above, and especially when that involves a director of football telling the Portuguese who he can and cannot sign.
Such a scenario proved the beginning of the end of his highly successful three-year spell in West London, with Mou leaving the Bridge the moment that newly appointed Blues director of football Avram Grant started to stick his nose into first-team affairs. The Portuguese also fought a long-running personal battle with Jorge Valdano at the Bernabeu before eventually winning that particular contest when the Argentinian was forced to leave the Spanish capital in the summer of 2011.
And, earlier this week reports in the British press (according to David Woods of the Daily Star) suggested that Mourinho would only return to Chelsea if director of football Michael Emenalo was sacked; so, you have to wonder just how smooth a working relationship he would have with Begiristain were he to replace Mancini this summer?
However, let’s say just for the sake of argument that Mourinho, Begiristain and Soriano are all able to bury the hatchet and work together in the collective interests of the club, then that still leaves the tricky issue of the baggage, the fights, the skullduggery and the Machiavellian plots and schemes that the Special One will without fail take part in while manager of City (or any other club for that matter).
That is simply just the way Mou works, whether it be starting a war with Liverpool by calling them just a cup team (2005), or accusing the Reading ambulance service of not doing their jobs properly by failing to respond quickly enough to treat Petr Cech’s head injury (2006), or poking Barcelona assistant manager Tito Vilanova in the eye (2011), this is the world according to Mourinho and these are the antics and games that he would bring with him to City.
Now just remember that this is a football club that under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour have been desperately keen to project as squeaky clean an image as possible throughout the world, hence the removal of the gaffe-prone Cook.
So in many ways, the brash, abrasive, cocky and cocksure Mourinho would be like a ticking time bomb at Eastlands, with every time the Portuguese opening his mouth resulting in ructions all the way to the UAE.
However, perhaps the biggest single reason as to why Mou would make a terrible manager at Man City is what was touched on at the very beginning, and that is Mourinho will always, always develop a three-year itch, no matter what, which runs totally against everything that Sheikh Mansour and City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak having been trying to instill since buying the club in 2008.
The City owner and his right-hand man have not entered English football simply to make a quick buck and then exit stage left; no, they are in this for the long haul, and as such, they want stability at their club, which means a manager that is also there for a long-term project.
And not only that, but with UEFA imminently set to implement their beloved financial fair play regulations, City are also after a coach who will focus on the club’s academy system, with a view to then promoting young up-and-coming prospects into the first team.
So just to recap, City will be wanting Mourinho to commit his long-term future to the club and at the same time focus part of his energies on making sure there is a regular conveyor belt of young English talent available so that the cub can start to scale back its enormous funding of ready-made world-class players. All this needs to be done in partnership with a director of football and with no negative publicity associated with the club along the way.
OK, that sounds like just the job for Mourinho then!