The man above has just guided Real Madrid into the last four of the Champions League once again. Yet Jose Mourinho, of course, is already being touted from all corners to leave Los Blancos this summer, with his most likely destination looking to be the Premier League and West London, a return to his club, Chelsea. If this happens, and if he does win the Champions League, what better way to go out, just who is going to replace the most notorious boss in the world, at one of the world’s top clubs? Here are my five choices…
Would Real go ‘Back to the Future’, to find a new manager? Pellegrini was the man in charge when Real got their money back in 2009, and decided to casually break the transfer record TWICE with the signings of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, despite the impressive spending sanctioned by his overlords, Pellegrini struggled to match the might of Barca in full flow and his side ultimately flopped, leaving Pellegrini without a job.
He then took on Malaga, a side also given an injection of cash, and has worked hard and well to create a Champions League quarter-final team that were mere seconds away from appearing alongside Real in this year’s semi-finals, before one of the best comebacks in recent memories saw them crestfallen. The Chilean managed similar miracles with Villareal before his appointment in 2009, and with Malaga being denied entrance to next year’s Champions League on the basis of some dodgy finances, it could be his only opportunity to face Europe’s elite once again. The chances are very slim, but the players will know him, whether they’ll work for him or not is another issue…
Yes Arsene Wenger. Mr Arsenal. King of the Youth. Except not. His reputation has dimmed somewhat as Gunners fans focus on their current dire run of no trophy in 8 years, rather than the success the Frenchman had previously. That’s fair enough, but forgetting the past isn’t entirely fair! And given that Wenger has imposed spending restrictions himself, his record of reaching the Champions League every year is a good one, given the fall of Liverpool, and the rise of Chelsea and Manchester City in between. Arsenal could’ve gone the way of Liverpool, but, for now, they are in tact.
Now, Wenger has been linked with Real for years, with nothing ever coming to fruition, due to him wanting to ‘finish the job off’ at the Emirates. But with his contract coming to an end soon, and an extension unlikely unless a dramatic turnaround occurs, Wenger is likely to be out of a job come the Summer of 2014. At this stage, will Real be on the horizon? Sure he’s not fond of actually spending money, something that managers at Real are actively encouraged to do, but will he raid his Arsenal for his pick of the next-generation of starlets? It’s all just a lot of questions at the moment, but Wenger could build a dynasty, a side and legacy to exceed his English revolution, and one to directly challenge the Catalans. Would you bet against him?
Jurgen Klopp. Pretty much an unknown to the average English football fan, he’s transformed Borussia Dortmund from a side on the brink of relegation, administration, you name it, to a side who won the double, disposing Bayern Munich of their god-given right to take the title every year, and reaching this year’s semi-finals of the Champions League. He’s initiated a new playing style, similar to Barca, developed young talent AND carried them through to the first team, and also showed some smarts on the transfer market, buying the cut-price Shinji Kagawa for £400,000, for example, and selling him on for £20 million. A huge profit right there.
He’s not a boring sod either. He cracks jokes in press conferences, dances in delight on the touchline and is loved by the club’s passionate home support. The one stumbling block when it comes to a possible move to Madrid, is he ready to leave Borussia? At the moment, Bayern have stolen the title from them, but they have a strong core of Reus, Goetze, Lewandowski and Bender, some of the best players on the continent, would he not find more satisfaction in bringing on these players, building a team of world-beaters out of nothing, than spending ludicrous amounts of money over in Spain? That’s to be determined, plus if he stays, the world has the mouth-watering prospect of a clash with Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich next season. Whatever he does, watch out for Klopp.
Flopping at Chelsea, derided by his own supporters, Rafa Benitez may seem a strange choice to be the next man to lead Real Madrid. That is to English fans at least, for in his native Spain Benitez is regarded as a tactical genius, having led little Valencia to a La Liga title and UEFA Cup many years ago. His successes at Liverpool must be noted also, as should his keen eye for a signing (Xabi Alonso anyone?!). Sure since then, his time at Liverpool ended badly, Inter Milan should be really struck off his CV and at Chelsea he was up against it from day one, but surely Spain’s biggest team (that’s debatable though), would want a native back in charge of them?
It could even be a straight swap, for West London and the Spanish capital, Jose for Rafa, one that might suit both parties, given Mourinho’s troubling relationship with the Real board and Spanish media. And similarly, there is contempt for Benitez in the English media, almost like we are bored of him, and crave a headline-maker like Mourinho, a man who was LOVED by all in England, never mind the likes of the ‘Sun’ and the ‘Mirror’.
Now, the big wildcard of the five, and just an idea I had somewhere. Diego Simeone, a couple of months ago, for sure, would’ve taken this season’s Manager of the Year, in Spain. His Atletico Madrid side were flying high in second in the league, putting up a decent enough challenge to leaders Barcelona, and sitting comfortably ahead of city rivals Real Madrid, toiling back in 3rd, after a few shocking results. Atleti, on the other hand, had beaten every traveller to the Estadio de Calderon, winning EVERY game in all competitions at home, and had an unstoppable forward in Colombian Radamel Falcao. All was excellent. Then came the Europa League exit to Rubin Kazan, the successive losses in La Liga that saw them slip to 3rd and Falcao got injured. All in the space of a few weeks.
Don’t read too much into that though, Simeone has still dragged his side to an excellent 2012-13 season, they should still succeed in 3rd place, confirming an appearance in next year’s Champions League and this year, they still have a Copa Del Rey showdown against Real to come. The Argentinian has signed a new deal recently, meaning any move to any club is unlikely, but if Real want their man they’ll get their man, and if Simeone gets attracted by the unlimited Euro’s available across town he might just make the move. Atleti are in millions of debt, and if a double offer of say £80 million came in for their prized possession Falcao and their manager, they might JUST consider it. The leaving pair would be hated forever by Atletico’s exuberant support, but it would be the biggest move of the summer by far.
Just a few outlandish choices, and it could be well be the case that none of the above are even approached by the men in charge of proceedings the Santiago Bernabeu, but who knows!