Yesterday Jose Mourinho was a sought after coach, but after last night’s 3-1 defeat of Barcelona, the Special One is more popular than Nick Clegg at Lib Dem HQ. Right now he has the pick of Europe’s leading clubs at his fingertips. In fact, after last night he’ll have the pick of his players’ wives as well. And having seen some of them in the flesh – that’s no wooden spoon.
Since landing in Lombardy two summers ago Mourinho hasn’t exactly enamoured himself to the Italians. His outspoken views, his unrivalled ability to wind up opposition coaches and his love affair with himself has put a few noses out of joint, among fellow professionals and the media.
But after taking his side to within 90 minutes of a shot at the most coveted trophy in European club football – a prize Inter have not won for 45 years – the Italian press are just about hailing the second coming. Apart from restoring the credibility of Italian football, which has been on the slide for some years, Inter are also carrying the fate of another club’s fate on their shoulders, because if they fare better than fellow Champions League semi-finalists Bayern Munich, it will be Serie A and not the Bundesliga which is granted a fourth place in the 2011/12 competition. Even the fans who hate Inter are now finding themselves supporting him.
Winning the Champions League is precisely why Inter President Massimo Moratti paid him €11m a year to lure him to the San Siro in the first place and in only his second year at the club Mou the Saviour is on the brink of turning water into wine. The Nerazzurri do still need to win the tricky return leg in Barcelona but after beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, there is no reason why they can’t finish the job.
Many were surprised to see the European champions turned over last night, but some enlightened scribes did call the result beforehand and are still smugly counting their winnings, courtesy of those kindly oddsmakers at Bodog.
And so now Mourinho is the master of all he surveys, with a host of admirers, led by Real Madrid and United, queuing at his door to prise him away from Moratti’s loving arms. Sir Alex Ferguson has said he will leave Manchester United next year, which has sparked a frenzy of speculation that Mou will replace him.
However, the Special One has had the luxury of a huge transfer kitty to fund projects at Chelsea and Inter – and debt-ridden United can’t offer the same guarantees. So, unless an Old Trafford takeover does take place, I wouldn’t take the plunge on Jose joining United any time soon – especially not at these stingy odds.