Jose Mourinho is plotting a shock return to Manchester United if the club decides to sack Erik ten Hag at the dawn of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS’ ruling over football operations, according to reports. Six years after his explosive sacking, the Portuguese coach is claimed to believe he has unfinished business at Old Trafford.
Ratcliffe and INEOS have a big decision to make regarding Ten Hag amid a structural shake-up that has already seen Omar Berrada appointed United’s new chief executive.
The Dutchman oversaw a successful first season, finishing third in the Premier League and lifting the Carabao Cup to end a six-year trophy.
But the wheels have fallen off this term, leaving him under intense pressure at the start of a new era after Ratcliffe’s £1.3billion investment for a 29 per cent stake and total sporting control.
Mourinho was the manager who guided United to their previous silverware in 2017, also winning the Carabao Cup and the Europa League, something Ten Hag fell short of.
And he is now reportedly lining up a sensational – but unlikely – return just after being dismissed as AS Roma manager earlier this month.
According to the Mail, Mourinho has made it his mission to become United boss for a second time, believing he has unfinished business in M16 after his two-year stint from 2016 and 2018.
The 61-year-old is also said to hold a desire to work with United’s new regime after the Glazers agreed to step away from football operations and focus on the business side of the club.
A friend reportedly said: “His ambition is to return to United. He feels like he has unfinished business there after how it ended last time and he had made it his mission to go back.”
Mourinho replaced Louis van Gaal in 2016, winning a cup double in his first season before finishing second for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign the following year – albeit 19 points behind champions Manchester City.
He was rewarded a contract extension until 2021 but his tenure crumbled soon after, as tensions rose with the club’s hierarchy due to a failure to sign a number of his transfer targets.
There was also friction in his dressing room, with Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, who he signed in 2016 for a then-world record £89million, and Anthony Martial among those he publicly called out.
Despite his late struggles, Mourinho retained support from United’s matchgoing fans before his inevitable sacking after a defeat at Liverpool in December 2018.
He was heralded on his return to Old Trafford as a pundit a few years ago, with the Stretford End chanting ‘Jose Mourinho’ as he waved back.
However, whether United’s fanbase or the club’s higher-ups share the same optimism about a return remains to be seen.