Jose Mourinho responds to Liverpool new manager 'shortlist' and tells why he should be considered for big jobs

Jose Mourinho looks on from the stands during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage on April 21, 2024 -Credit:Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
Jose Mourinho looks on from the stands during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage on April 21, 2024 -Credit:Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho set tongues wagging after he was spotted at Liverpool’s 3-1 victory away at Fulham on Sunday.

The Portuguese is currently unemployed, after all, having been sacked by AS Roma in January despite leading them to European finals in both of his two full seasons at the club.

With Jurgen Klopp confirming back in January that he will step down as Reds manager in the summer after nine years at Anfield, Liverpool are in the market for a new head coach.

READ MORE: Jose Mourinho sent clear message as Liverpool respond to Coventry goal

READ MORE: Ruben Amorim makes promise about Sporting CP future as Liverpool speculation continues

Consequently, the juxtaposition of the out-of-work Mourinho taking in the Reds’ victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage - which is local to the former Chelsea manager’s West London home, though not as close as Stamford Bridge - did not go unnoticed.

But despite previous target Xabi Alonso opting to stay put at Bayer Leverkusen and it unclear whether current frontrunner Ruben Amorim is obtainable, Mourinho has not emerged as an alternative for Liverpool.

While onlookers will perhaps cheekily allude to a hypothetical scenario where the Portuguese does return to the Premier League at Anfield, it is understandably not a realistic proposition.

In an interview with the Telegraph he is credited as noting, ‘that the current shortlist does not feature his name.’ As a former Manchester United manager, those Red Devils allegiances inevitably make his availability a moot point when it comes to selecting Klopp’s successor.

Mourinho is still a three-time Premier League winner and two-time Champions League winner, and also got his hands on league titles in Portugal, Italy, and Spain, as well as countless domestic cups across the continent. He is a serial winner, with Tottenham Hotspur the only side on his CV since he burst onto the scene with FC Porto over 20 years not to have any trophies to show for his time at the club.

Admittedly, you would not put it past Mourinho for his appearance at Craven Cottage to have been very deliberate as waits for his next managerial position, as Liverpool speculation continues. It has his name back out there, after all, and was swiftly followed by an exclusive interview where he opened up on his future managerial hopes and aspirations.

Klopp teased back in February that he considers himself, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and Pep Guardiola as ‘dinosaurs’ in comparison to the likes of Alonso. But while the Portuguese is five years his senior, he conceded that, unlike himself, his counterpart’s career is nowhere near over yet.

"Always what I said, the dinosaurs if you want, Ancelotti, Mourinho, Guardiola, maybe me, we will not do it – okay, maybe Mourinho - but all the rest will not do it for the next 20 years,” Klopp said back in February. “The next generation is already there and I would say Xabi is standout in that department.”

Mourinho confirms such a fact himself when speaking to the Telegraph when pondering what offer could tempt him back into management and why he is suddenly no longer being linked with the highest managerial positions.

“It is not like I am 61 and I want to stop at 65,” he said. “No way at all. There is still a long career to go.

“If people fear something [about Mourinho], don’t fear. Give me a professional structure where I am only the head coach because this is what I am good at. People say I’m good at communication. Many, many times you say the wrong things. Especially when you communicate three or four times a week. A club’s structure pushes me in the wrong direction.

“What could really make a difference is how much the club wants me. How much the club needs a person and a coach of my profile. And how much feeling, empathy I could feel with the structure.

“It is not like I am afraid of jobs [with clubs] not ‘made to win it’. When some [managers] have reached a certain level maybe they say, ‘I will only get jobs made to win it’. It is my job to try to make clubs into those ‘made to win it’, or to reach some objectives.

“The only thing I want is that the targets and the objectives have to be established by everyone in a fair way. I cannot go to a club where, because of my history, the objective is to win the title. No. The only thing I want is that it has to be fair.

“Do you think if I was at a big Premier League club and we were sixth, seventh, eighth, in the table, I still have a job? What I am saying is people [should] look at me the way they look at others.

“What is important for me is if the club has objectives and for me to be able to say I am ready to fight for these. I don’t want to say realistic, but [at least] semi-realistic. Because when I went to Roma nobody was dreaming about European Cup finals and we did it. It’s not possible I go to a club almost relegated and the objective is to win the Champions League. It’s good but it is not fair.”

There was a time when Liverpool supporters would have bitten your hand off to have Mourinho in their dugout. That perhaps changed from the moment Klopp walked through the door in 2015, with his first Premier League win coming at the Portuguese and Chelsea’s expense.

When you desperately wanting to win the biggest trophies after years in the wilderness, you are happy to 'deal with the devil' and appoint Mourinho. But when you have already enjoyed a decade of success, he no longer seems so attractive.

He has been a target for the Reds before though, having been on their shortlist along with Rafa Benitez back in 2004. Then a Champions League winner with Porto, he instead joined Chelsea as the Reds opted for the Spaniard.

Recalling that summer, Mourinho points out how two decades ago, managers needed to have won big trophies to earn the admiring glances of Premier League giants.

“Benitez won the Spanish league with Valencia [twice] and the Uefa Cup,” he said. “And I won the Portuguese league [twice], Uefa Cup and Champions League.

“So to come to England then it was not just enough that you did something nice in a smaller league. Or that your goalkeeper builds from the back with backheels. What you needed to do was something really big to open that door

“After the Uefa Cup [win in 2003] I started having some foreign clubs [interested in me] but not the big ones and not the Premier League.

“At that time you think, ‘I love it here. I have a good team, great president, great structure. I am going to win the Portuguese league again. Let’s enjoy the Champions League and see where it goes’.

“I had a feeling I could leave Portugal whenever I wanted but [then] not to one of the big ones.”

Only Mourinho will know how much Liverpool’s ongoing managerial search applies when making such a claim.

Alonso has just won the Bundesliga as Leverkusen enjoy an unbeaten season after all, and is chasing a treble with a place in the DFB-Pokal final and Europa League semi-finals already secure.

Having played under Mourinho at Real Madrid, it was his Leverkusen side that the Portuguese beat in the Europa League semi-finals last year before losing to Sevilla in the final.

Meanwhile, Amorim is chasing a Portuguese double as he closes in on his second Liga Portugal title, with Sporting also already through to the Taca de Portugal final. He is already a three-time Taca de Liga winner, while a Europa League round-of-16 loss to Atalanta ended his hopes of a possible treble this season.

Both are still very young of course, with Alonso 42 years old and Amorim 39 years old. Mourinho was the same age as his compatriot just after he took over at Porto in 2002.

Should Liverpool move for the Sporting boss, the ‘next Mourinho’ headlines will be inevitable. But what of the old Mourinho?

A ‘dinosaur’ as Klopp referred to him in jest, something will likely have had to have gone seriously wrong in the Reds’ managerial search if club bosses end up knocking at the club’s former foe’s door.