Jose Mourinho to Manchester United can't be killed. It's the most stubborn story in football and for all the times it's been clubbed to death, it's never been closer to becoming a reality.
Well connected journalists at the Guardian and ESPN are reporting that United's leadership team, steered by Ed Woodward, are seriously considering replacing Louis van Gaal with the man who once worked under him.
It's easy to see why Mourinho would jump at the chance. Though he's always stuck to the line that he sought a return to Chelsea over United in 2013, the alternate version of events portrays the Special One as United's jilted lover - spurned for the job he wanted in favour of David Moyes.
That kind of rejection cuts`deep, and rare is the opportunity for such sweet redemption as Mourinho would find in proving to United they wasted two years without him. Looking on, there must be a certain satisfaction for the Special One in witnessing United in the doldrums, two failed managers after they overlooked him and with the first sacked again elsewhere between.
It's almost poetic how sweetly things have aligned now for Mourinho to step into the job at Old Trafford. The timing of his exit at Chelsea has played into a particularly dismal run for a dismal United team, who have betrayed the club's romantic heritage and are in danger of inviting widespread apathy.
Back in 2013, with United the reigning Premier League champions and on elevated ground, the club and their fans had a license to be picky when it came to selecting Sir Alex Ferguson's successor. Some suggested Mourinho's reactive style of football wouldn't cut it. Others pointed to his penchant for controversy.
Mourinho was one of the best two or three managers in the world, but he wasn't good enough for United.
Oh what irony now for those who feared Mourinho's "anti-football" at United. Instead they got the long-ball Moysery of David and the passive directionless of Van Gaal's meek bunch to dine out on.
Perspective really is everything. Those same United fans who once bemoaned Mourinho's Chelsea for parking the bus are now getting desperate. It's one thing to sacrifice style for success, but when you concede both you realise just how lucky you were to have one of those going for you.
As for Mourinho's well-worn antagoniser act, United fans only need look to how the Chelsea masses adore him. There's even been a comparison made to Eric Cantona, a controversial figure who galvanised Old Trafford and whose spirit is etched in the modern club's identity.
United fans are crying out for a manager to believe in and fall in love with. There's no doubting Mourinho, if things go his way, can be that man. He doesn't tick all the boxes, but quite frankly who does? It's a list that starts and ends with Pep Guardiola and the blue half of Manchester seemingly has the lead on that one.
As United grow uglier, the notion of appointing Mourinho appears to become more attractive to United fans, and reportedly their owners too.
The big lingering concern will be Mourinho's ability to sustain. Nobody doubts his talent for shaping teams into trophy collectors, but United's long-term vision isn't helped by appointing a manager who nearly always burns out after two or three years.
So what of bringing him as interim manager? It's an option that would give United the freedom to keep looking, while providing Mourinho with a platform to prove himself and also the potential to groom a long-term successor. Maybe that man is Ryan Giggs. Maybe it's Gary Neville. Maybe it's somebody else entirely.
If anybody knows how mentoring works it's Mourinho. He cut his teeth under the late Sir Bobby Robson and learned many of the key lessons he needed to forge his career from the great man. Could it be time for those teachings to be reinterpreted for the next generation?
Much has been made of Mourinho's broken relationships along the way, but his prolific success has been the result of the many, many relationships he got right. He falls out with players, but he can inspire them too. You might say there's a hint of Ferguson about that combination.
With Mourinho in charge, United would get the injection of passion, drive and focus they badly need right now. They'd also get a manager with the pull to bring in big names in January and over the summer. There's also that relationship with Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes to consider - never a bad friend to have these days.
It won't be 4-4-2 with wingers hugging the touchline and midfielders bombing forward at every opportunity, but Mourinho's United might just get them winning games, moving in the right direction and providing a team for the fans to believe in again.
Appointing one of the best two or three managers in the world is hardly a risk, especially when that man has already won the competitions you long to compete for again.
Mourinho to replace Van Gaal? United should be all in.
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