Jose Mourinho Linked to Arsenal Amid Strong Manchester United Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2016

FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015 file photo, Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho looks across the pitch before the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in London.  Mourinho has left Chelsea with the club languishing one point above the relegation zone just seven months after winning the Premier League title, it was reported on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)
Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Jose Mourinho is reportedly a candidate to take over from longstanding nemesis Arsene Wenger at Arsenal this summer, although the Portuguese remains heavily linked with a move to Manchester United.

The surprise report comes from Fichajes (h/t Alex Young of Goal), which said the north Londoners are ready to capitalise on United’s failure to tie up a contract with the iconic coach. It’s suggested the Arsenal hierarchy is growing tired of the prolonged underachievement on Wenger’s watch.

The Gunners sit in third place in the Premier League, 11 points back on surprise leaders Leicester City having played one game less. It’s a state of affairs that has left a lot of fans disgruntled, with some supporters bringing critical banners to matches.

Wenger has struggled to get the best from Arsenal this season.
Wenger has struggled to get the best from Arsenal this season.Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Arsenal icon Ian Wright is unhappy with these displays in the stands and has encouraged the supporters to direct their ire elsewhere, per BT Sport Football:

If Wenger were to move on in the summer, Mourinho would be an intriguing choice for Arsenal. While he’s a winner, his style of management is at odds with Wenger’s. Pragmatism is favoured, promotion of young players is a secondary concern and a win-at-all-costs mentality is instilled within the squad.

Given these differences, it’s little surprise the two have exchanged verbals down the years. Mourinho infamously branded Wenger a “specialist in failure” in 2014 after the Arsenal boss stated “it is his fear to fail,” per Adam Bate of Sky Sports.

Mourinho has long been considered to be the antithesis of Wenger.
Mourinho has long been considered to be the antithesis of Wenger.GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

There seems to be a swell in stories linking Mourinho with a move to Manchester United, though. El Pais (h/t Jack Wilson of the Daily Star) claimed the coach had signed a pre-contract with the club, but the Red Devils have declined to comment on whether that's the case, according to Reuters (h/t Marc Williams of the Daily Star).

The role’s incumbent, Louis van Gaal, has endured a lot of criticism after a tumultuous term. However, Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp, writing for the Daily Mail, thinks the Dutchman would leave behind a positive legacy should he depart, with the likes of Marcus Rashford coming through under his tenure:

There's no way Van Gaal will still be in charge at Manchester United next season, but he does deserve credit for one thing: giving the kids a chance.

You wonder if whoever replaces him will show similar faith in United’s youth or simply demand big-money signings. When a youngster has done well, Van Gaal has backed them.

When I saw Marcus Rashford score against Arsenal I wondered if he was just a young player with luck on his side. Not any more. He looks a real star.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 20:  Louis van Gaal manager of Manchester United reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on March 20, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Michae
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Indeed, Sean Lunt of HITC Sport is unsure how Rashford would develop under a manager such as Mourinho, who is notorious for his unwillingness to blood youngsters:

Nevertheless, it certainly looks more likely Mourinho will be at Old Trafford than the Emirates Stadium next season.

While Arsenal need to find a better blend between fortitude and flair, sometimes simply too much water has passed under the bridge; if he took the job on, the focus on the Portuguese would be scrupulous, and the criticism would be amplified if things were to go wrong.

United seem like a better overall fit for the former Chelsea manager, although you suspect Mourinho would have to give certain guarantees when it comes to the integration of young talent.

The Red Devils are synonymous with giving youth a chance, and even a coach as illustrious as Mourinho may have to bow to this tradition.