Jose Mourinho has been linked with a return to the Premier League for some time now but yesterday Twitter went into overload with rumours a move to Arsenal was imminent - in fact, 'Mourinho to Arsenal' became one of biggest trends of the day on the platform.
At the moment, it appears to be no more than a rumour that has spiralled well out of control but given the toxic atmosphere currently clouding over the Emirates, a move for the Portuguese manager certainly makes sense and it's clear 'The Special One' has his sights set on another of English football's biggest jobs.
Mourinho has won nearly everything he’s set his mind to, and while his star has certainly dimmed in the last couple of seasons, it’s ironic that since being fired by Manchester United, his reputation has risen.
That has happened in part due to United’s dreadful failings once again being exposed for all to see. It’s also thanks to his work as a pundit, with his analysis being heads and shoulders above the rest of the Sky Sports panel.
In fact, it was his view on the Arsenal front three that went viral and really got people talking, as he spoke about each of them and what they do - and related it to what Bobby Firmino does for Liverpool. At that point, he might as well have been speaking double Dutch for all the comprehension Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness had.
It’s interesting he has such strong and passionate views on the Arsenal attack, their recruitment - "Why do they need Ceballos? They have three of him already" - and so on and so forth, because no one’s eye has been fixed so firmly on a destination since Sauron tracked the One Ring. Jose’s eye is centered on north London, with both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in disarray for differing reasons.
Mourinho wants a top job again, and won’t take anything else. He’s also believed to be keen on not only staying in England and managing in the Premier League again, but winning major trophies with three different English clubs. There’s nothing like a scorned manager with a point to prove, and after his Manchester United experience and the end of his bond with Chelsea fans, another Premier League club may prove the ideal destination for him.
Arsenal are actually the most intriguing of the two. They have a huge stadium, clearly have money - though seem to have issues actually using it for what they need, if at all - and there is talent in their squad.
Yes, Arsenal need a huge overhaul, but at the minute they look like they’re regressing to something far worse than the Wenger years. The toxicity at the club is paramount, and Mourinho is a man who thrives on that - the ‘us against the world’ attitude has served him well over the years, though quite how much he wants to unite a warring playing squad with the fanbase remains to be seen.
José Mourinho discusses what he wants from the next team he manages.
Mourinho has directed most of his vitriol at Arsenal and Arsene Wenger over the years. Wenger was a specialist in failure, a voyeur, the club were a joke to him. Not any more. He clearly sees something there and with the players they have he thinks he can do something Emery cannot. At this point, the fans would probably agree.
Arsenal have lacked a winning edge for years now, and Mourinho is a driven winner before anything else. The squad is nowhere near the levels of Liverpool or Manchester City, but to win the Europa League and the domestic cups would be a step forward - and Jose knows that.
Across north London sits another club who lack the cutting edge to win trophies, also with their own incredible stadium and with funds to spend, with a disgruntled fanbase and players who might want out.
The decline of Spurs this season has been alarming and rapid, and while no one beyond a small minority of supporters is questioning Mauricio Pochettino as a manager, they are wondering if he’s gone as far as he can with Spurs. Pochettinho must be wondering much the same. Yes, a stadium that dispenses beer from the tables is a great gimmick, but nothing more. Results and trophies sell season tickets.
Mourinho is thought to be keen on the Spurs job and, in Harry Kane, they have a world-class player. If Mourinho loves Firmino, imagine what he thinks of Son Heung-min. There is enough to work with - these were the Champions League runners-up of course. More to work with than at Arsenal, though mentality issues of a different kind linger.
Football is a cut-throat business and no one knows this more than Mourinho, who speaks of being a child and his father coming home on Christmas Day having been sacked by Rio Ave. Results and trophies matter and, despite what his detractors think, Mourinho can deliver. He’s now spent time outside the game, and spoken about overhauling his backroom staff for the first time dramatically, he’s spoken about how players need to be managed differently now and how he’s learning.
A manager never stops evolving, and Mourinho now seems to be self-aware enough to realise he did stop. His methods didn’t change from 2005, and while that works with some players, it won’t work with others. To succeed wherever he goes next, he will have to remember that, and it’s clear he will try because being out of football and no longer the first choice manager for elite clubs has hurt him.
The Special One. The Happy One. The Sacked One. Now, Jose Mourinho only wants a top club to look at him and call him The One.