It couldn’t happen, could it?
After all the spats over the years, the not so
sly digs and the personal attacks on Arsene
Wenger, Jose Mourinho is suddenly being
linked with a move to Arsenal.
The self-anointed Special One is said to be
interested in taking charge of the Gunners
should Unai Emery lose his job and, what is
perhaps even more surprising, there appears
to be a large number of Arsenal fans who are
ready to welcome him with open arms.
The man who once called Wenger a voyeur
and a specialist in failure, the man who just
two years ago sat in his post-match press
conference after Manchester United had lost
2-0 at the Emirates and said this: “The
Arsenal fans, they are happy. I’m happy for
them. It’s the first time I leave Highbury or
the Emirates and they are happy. It’s the first
“I left Highbury, they were crying. I left
Emirates, they were crying. They were walking
the street with their head low. So finally today
they sing, they wave their scarves. It’s nice for
Back then, Mourinho was very much the
enemy. Now, some supporters see him as the
Perhaps it is more a sign of just how
disillusioned many are over Emery than
anything else, but there is certainly
considerable support on social media for the
Portuguese coach to step in.
Whether that support would manifest itself to
those who actually go to the Emirates each
week we will possibly never know, but it is
The fact is Arsenal need a new coach. Emery
may well still be in the job, but it is
increasingly clear that the Spaniard is not the
man to take the club forward and get them
back competing among Europe’s elite.
Emery has been in his role for 18 months now
and there has been no real improvement. In
fact, he has actually made the team worse in
certain areas. Results are currently dreadful
and the performances are just as bad.
It is time for a change in north London but
Mourinho is not the man the club should be
looking towards. Sources inside Arsenal
suggest that the speculation doing the rounds
is emanating from those close to Mourinho,
rather than from anyone inside the club.
When Arsene Wenger stood on the Emirates
turf after his final game in charge and
addressed the Arsenal fanbase, he said: “I am
like you, I am an Arsenal fan.
“This is more than just watching football, it’s
a way of life. It’s caring about the beautiful
game, about the values we cherish.”
Arsenal are very proud of those values. But by
appointing Mourinho they would compromise
those values in one fell swoop.
It would be an expensive, short-term
appointment and one that would no doubt end
in a messy, expensive divorce. Why? Because
it always does when Mourinho is involved.
And it’s not like he has a hugely impressive
recent track record either or that he would
improve the style of football that is currently
being served up in north London.
Mourinho was a game changer when he first
arrived in England. His arrival came at the
perfect time, just as Roman Abramovich’s
millions had started to break the status quo
that had existed between Arsenal and
Mourinho turned Chelsea into one of the best
teams English football had seen. The title-
winning side of 2004-05 was magnificent, as
was the team that went on to defend their
crown in almost as impressive fashion 12
But those days appear to be long gone.
Granted, there was the treble with Inter and a
record-breaking title for Real Madrid. And,
while he returned to Stamford Bridge in 2013
to deliver the league title one season later,
the way things went spectacularly wrong
straight after showed the dangers of
appointing a man as divisive as Mourinho.
His siege mentality approach just doesn’t
work any longer. It didn’t at United and it
wouldn’t at Arsenal.
He would no doubt improve things
defensively at the Emirates, but that is not a
reason for the club to sell their soul in search
There are plenty of coaches out there who
could get more out of this current squad.
Mourinho is far from the only candidate; there
are others like Julian Nagelsmann, Brendan
Rodgers and Erik ten Hag – coaches you
would trust to nurture and develop the
exciting young talent that is progressing
through from Arsenal’s Hale End academy.
Arsenal have Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka,
Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith
Rowe all in and around the first team, plus
another layer of talent below them such at
Tyreece John-Jules, Folarin Balogun and
Miguel Azeez of which much is expected.
But you can count the number of young
players Mourinho has developed on one hand.
Having spent so much money developing
Hale End, it would be bordering on criminal to
now risk it all just as that investment was
starting to bear fruit.
Arsenal need a fresh, progressive leader – not
the reactive Mourinho we saw fail at Old
Trafford despite spending millions during his
time in charge.
Trouble follows Mourinho around. Just look at
the clearly leaked story that made its way into
the press this week, suggesting that he had
recently sat down for dinner with Raul
Sanllehi, Arsenal’s head of football.
It was a story which infuriated Arsenal, one
that sources at the club insist simply was not
true, with Sanllehi having not spoken to
Mourinho for years.
But it was one that did its job. It raised
Mourinho’s profile at a time when the
spotlight was on Emery and it led to some
fans calling for the club to make a change.
Mourinho is a smart man, someone who can
use the media to his own advantage and he
has friends in high places. But Arsenal should
be above all of that.
Football has changed. One of the big
arguments for replacing Wenger, while he was
still in charge, was the his best days were
gone and that he no longer had the skillset to
compete with the new names on the block.
The same goes for Mourinho.
He’s had his time and, when Arsenal do
finally pull the plug on Emery and start their
search for a new man, they will be best
served looking in the complete opposite
direction to someone who will bring yet more
division to an already fractured Emirates.