First, some observations. Mourinho has, I think, one more year at Madrid. He'll either win the Champions League, which would be my bet, or Barcelona continue to dominate. Either way I believe Mourinho leaves the Bernabeu and returns to the Premier League.
Meanwhile Fabio Capello will leave the England job after the 2012 European Championships. Harry Redknapp of Spurs is the current favourite for the position as long as his court case on revenue related charges doesn't cause the FA to get wet feet.
Also in London are, if not a sleeping giant, then a sleeping minnow with a boatload of money; Queens Park Rangers. Neil Warnock led QPR to the Premier League amongst persistent rumours that he would get the axe once the club made it back to the top flight. There remain all kinds of intrigue, it appears, with the QPR ownership, but when you have one of the top ten most wealthy individuals in the world, Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, as part owner then there is an opportunity to compete more than most Premier League clubs. QPR have rather sensibly built slowly and surely since they were taken over four years ago, however should they wish then this club can crash the top seven. Warnock probably gets a year, if that, to show he's the correct person for the job.
Which brings us to City and Roberto Mancini where we might just see a little of the Mark Hughes syndrome. Hughes it seems to me was, and is, a good manager but the suspicion has always been that he doesn't have the ability to take a club to the next level and be a great manager. I continue to believe that the dismissal of Hughes was the correct decision although the circumstances in which it occurred were quite disgraceful. Unlike Hughes, Mancini was perceived, correctly it turns out, to be a manager that could get the club to the next level of winning a trophy and qualifying for the Champions League. But here's the Hughes syndrome. Is Mancini good enough to take City to the level of winning a championship and the Champions League? Mourinho is, this we know for a fact after his work with Porto, Chelsea and Inter.
The City ownership were ruthless when they perceived that Hughes was not the correct manager. It is quite conceivable that the same fate could befall Mancini if circumstances dictate. And Mourinho being available is one of those circumstances.
And let's not forget United in all of this. Alex Ferguson has to retire at some point and the United manager will be 70 before the end of the year. The Scot has earned the right to leave on his own terms, but if we are brutally truthful there is a presence about their club that will demand a certain level of replacement. Given a choice I think Mourinho would prefer to be based in London, but the lure of United or City's riches may be enough.
Spurs, QPR, Manchester City and Manchester United all with money, all potentially in play when Mourinho makes the decision to return to the Premier League. Heck if Abramovich would swallow his pride you could throw Chelsea into that mix as well.
It's going to be an interesting year and there's 10 weeks before it starts.
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