Reports have surfaced suggesting Jose Mourinho has agreed a pre-contract with Manchester United to replace Louis van Gaal as the club’s manager.
That’s according to Spanish newspaper El Pais (h/t Ed Aarons of the Guardian). It has suggested that if Mourinho is not officially appointed by June 1, the Portuguese will be due a windfall of £15 million.
“If United do not sign the final contract [with Mourinho] before 1 May, they must pay £5 million; if by June 1 he’s still not signed, they shall pay another £10 million,” stated the report, per Aarons. “May is the key, because it’s the month in which the vast majority of the signings of players are closed and the plans formed.”
Richard Conway of BBC Sport noted the newspaper is a respected news source:
Very interesting that the Mourinho to Manchester United report is coming from El País. Respected paper of record.— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) March 19, 2016
Mourinho has not been in a job since he was dismissed by Chelsea in December, just months on from his third Premier League triumph with the club.
Recently, the Portuguese confirmed he will be back in football this summer, although he gave little away about his new club. “Since I left Chelsea in December I was lucky enough to not just have options but good options,” he told BT Sport (h/t Tom Sheen of the Independent). “But I made the decision to wait. July, mid-July the new pre-season starts and somewhere I want to be there.”
If he's in line to become the boss at Old Trafford, the kind of club he takes over could well be determined by the remaining weeks of the campaign, with United still fighting to salvage something.
According to Simon Jones of the Mail on Sunday, with that in mind, Van Gaal has staged “crisis talks” with his players ahead of their showdown with local rivals Manchester City on Sunday. “The Dutchman knows any slip-ups will further tarnish his tenure at Old Trafford and wants his players to finish the season with a flourish,” added Jones.
As the Guardian’s Owen Gibson noted following the UEFA Europa League exit to Liverpool on Thursday, United look rudderless:
Watching that United side, still impossible to work out what LvG is up to. Seems to have baffled himself. Not that he'd ever admit it.— Owen Gibson (@owen_g) March 17, 2016
It’d be a huge surprise if Van Gaal were still in charge at Old Trafford next season. The Red Devils have not only underperformed both domestically and in Europe, but they’ve played a brand of football that has failed to inspire. For a manager of one of the biggest clubs in the world, it’s not an ideal combination.
It’s got to a point where United need more than a jolt. While there are some talented players in the squad, in the main it's a collection of mediocre players at Old Trafford.
Mourinho has never carried out a job quite like this before. Typically, he comes into clubs and adds the finishing touches to teams that are not far away from winning major honours. The Red Devils look a long way off being regular challengers, making the Portuguese’s potential appointment a fascinating one.