The Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Manchester United brings together arguably the two biggest clubs in the world and also matches managers who could both claim to be the best in their profession. Jose Mourinho (pictured) and Sir Alex Ferguson provide the subplot to the tie which begins with the first leg in Madrid on Wednesday evening.
Ferguson is now 71 and he has had the job at United since 1986. He went four years without winning a trophy and some believed his job was on the line before his side won the English FA Cup in 1990. United under Ferguson have since won the Premier League twelve times and another title is all but sown up this season.
Mourinho is 21 years younger than Sir Alex but has already won 20 trophies, compared to the 48 won by Ferguson in his time at Aberdeen in Scotland and at Old Trafford. When he does finally retire the club will have a massive decision to make in appointing his successor. Mourinho has said he wants to manage in England again and the glamour and prestige of the United job would surely appeal to his charismatic nature.
The Portuguese manager has won the Champions League with two different sides and managed clubs to league titles in Portugal, Spain, Italy and England. However, despite near misses with Chelsea Mourinho has never managed an English club to win the Champions League.
There have been some suggestions that Mourinho may return to Chelsea, the team that won two English titles under his stewardship. However, he left the club after falling out with the Russian billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich, and there is no reason to suggest this again could not be a potential problem.
Regardless of Real Madrid’s progress in the Champions League and how the tie with United pans out Mourinho looks certain to leave the club at the end of this season. His problem then is that Ferguson is unlikely to be ready for retirement so Mourinho must take a position before the job in Manchester becomes available.
The Manchester City job could be an option as Roberto Mancini is under pressure after a poor defence of the title City won so dramatically last season. The dilemma for Mourinho is appeasing United followers if he chose City first and then moved across town when Ferguson finally retires.