The former Real Madrid and Chelsea boss was a strong contender in the eyes of many to replace Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer of 2013, upon the managerial legend’s retirement – or a least he would have been had there been any hint publicly that Ferguson was going to step down.
The job eventually went to David Moyes, but the Daily Mail have reported that Ed Woodward flew to Madrid in order to convince then-Real boss Mourinho to succeed Ferguson three years ago.
The report claims that Woodward met Mourinho in a car with blacked-out windows outside the Calderón, where his Real Madrid side were playing local La Liga rivals Atlético. It goes on to claim that Woodward left a disappointed man as José told him in no uncertain terms that he had already agreed to move back to Chelsea ahead of the new Premier League season.
Of course, this version of events differs wildly to those recounted by Spanish journalist Diego Torres in his book The Special One: The Dark Side of José Mourinho. In said book, Torres claimed that Mourinho was distraught upon learning that Ferguson had chosen Moyes to replace him:
“[Mourinho] thought that his fabulous collection of titles constituted an ‘endorsement’ unreachable to any other contenders. When he knew that Ferguson had chosen Moyes, the Everton coach, he was struck by a terrible disbelief. Moyes hadn’t won absolutely anything!”
It also wouldn’t tie in with an interview Manchester United director Bobby Charlton gave to the Guardian several months prior to this alleged meeting in which he seemed to rubbish the idea of Mourinho managing at Old Trafford, particularly after the incident in which he poked then-Barcelona assistant manager Tito Vilanova in the eye:
“A United manager wouldn’t do that,
“Mourinho is a really good coach but that’s as far as I would go really.”
He went on to claim that Ferguson “didn’t like Mourinho very much.”
Mourinho did indeed end up moving back to Chelsea and won the Premier League in 2015 before being fired several months later. Man United, meanwhile, suffered badly in the post-Ferguson era under Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
Whatever the circumstances were as to why Mourinho didn’t end up at Man United in 2013, he now finally has his chance to make a mark in his dream job.