I’d love to believe all I read in the papers, but I have a cynical disposition when it comes to the managerial merry-go-round which has been busily whirling for the last eight weeks in England.
It started with José Mourinho parting from one job and it could end, albeit temporarily as far as the back page agenda is concerned, with the triumphant return of the same man at Soho Square. However, while the ‘Special One’ smiles enigmatically and answers in riddles on being doorstepped in Portugal, his pals and confidants are adamant the two-time Premiership title winner is willing to consider taking the highest managerial office in the English game.
Having witnessed some shameless acts of self-promotion by some out of work managers in this sacking season, it’s easy to conclude that Mourinho’s using the media attention as a stalking horse to get the big boys in Spain and Italy to create a tailor-made opening for him. But that can prove to be a fool’s game and Paul Jewell looks a little less shrewd after turning down Bolton, Wigan and the Republic of Ireland to pop up at that renowned ‘Top Six’ outfit Derby in order to put food on his table.Mourinho knows the risks and his cult status on these shores is likely to take a hit in the short-term if he is ultimately whistling ‘God Save the Queen’ in the wind.
And from a sceptical standpoint, why would such a young, charismatic, successful foreigner want to put himself in the firing line of scrutiny and brickbats that will inevitably rain down on him at some stage, brolly or not ?
The man himself once declared his intention to ride off into the managerial sunset with an international job once his hair turns white and his coat is much less fashionable — and most thought he meant Portugal. However, Mourinho’s got fewer friends in the FPF than you would think and, by comparison the England job stands alone in paying the kind of money that he’s been used to earning at Stamford Bridge. Guarantees over his conditions for taking the job would have to be sought — and this is where the first insurmountable hurdle is likely to crop up.
A hardline stance on assessing injured players akin to that of the French is a step in the right direction and one way of combating any funny business from old club adversaries. The rekindling of the national football centre project, an expanded fixture list for an England B squad in the interim and the power to bring in his own backroom and scouting staff could also be accommodated.
But re-scheduling key Premiership fixtures and even the entire programme before the biggest qualifiers, taken for granted in Portugal and even Scotland now, would require the kind of backing that no other England manager has been granted — a political will. And it’s for that reason that I won’t be taking the odds on Mourinho to accede to the throne — he would probably succeed, but at a price that Brian Barwick and the FA could never pay.