Could unhappy Mourinho and Arsene Wenger swap places?

Jan 25, 2012
Bill Mann

Wenger said to be on shortlist with Joachim Low to replace Mourinho at Real Madrid this summer

ARSENAL'S embattled manager Arsene Wenger is reported to be on a two-man shortlist to replace Jose Mourinho as Real Madrid boss after the Portuguese coach told reporters he doubted he had a future at the Bernabeu. Defeat to Barcelona in tonight's Copa Del Rey semi-final second leg against the European champions could seal the Special One's fate.

It raises the intriguing prospect – might Wenger and Mourinho, both of whom command admiration and respect but are currently getting boos from their own fans, actually swap places this summer?

According to the Daily Mail, Real Madrid have identified Wenger and Germany head coach Joachim Low as the most suitable candidates to replace Mourinho at the end of the season. The Arsenal boss was first approached by Real in 2009 as a replacement for Juande Ramos, but Wenger opted to remain at the Emirates and the Spanish giants hired Manuel Luis Pellegrini instead. He lasted just a season before Mourinho arrived from Inter Milan in the summer of 2010.

But Mourinho's relationship with the players and fans at the Bernabeu is clearly strained. Not only was the Portuguese coach booed by supporters during Sunday's 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, but news has emerged of a training ground bust-up with vice-captain Sergio Ramos.

All this will sound familiar to Wenger, who was on the receiving end of a cacophony of catcalls himself at the weekend as Arsenal suffered their third consecutive league defeat. The Mail claims that Real president Florentino Perez is confident that should the club make another approach to Wenger then this time they'll get their man because of "the challenge of taking on Barcelona".

Though Wenger will go down as one of the greatest managers in the club's history, it's been apparent for the last couple of seasons that new ideas are needed at the Emirates. The general consensus is that after 16 years in charge it's time for Wenger to move on.

And that view isn't likely to change following a report alleging that Wenger was being economical with the truth when he said he had substituted Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Andrey Arshavin during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Manchester on Sunday because the teenager was tiring. The Frenchman also said Oxlade-Chamberlain had been sick during the week and was suffering from a calf problem.

But that's disputed by Claus Lundekvam, a former team-mate of Oxlade-Chamberlain's at Southampton. The Norwegian was commentating on the game for Scandinavian broadcaster TV2 and later called Oxlade-Chamberlain to ask how he was. "He said, first and foremost, that he was super happy with his first match from the start," reported Lundekvam. "I also got confirmation from Alex that he was neither tired or injured."

Meanwhile, Mourinho has often made it plain that, if and when leaves Real, he'd like to return to the Premier League where he won back-to-back league titles with Chelsea in 2005/06. Who knows, given his notoriously defensive approach, we could even see the Gooners singing the old refrain once more, "One-nil to the Arsenal".

Sign up for our daily newsletter