Jose Mourinho to use Man Utd tie to 'audition' for Fergie's job
Champions League draw gives Mourinho chance to show Old Trafford his managerial skills
REAL MADRID coach Jose Mourinho will use the Champions League clash against Manchester United as a "job audition", according to the Daily Mirror.
Mourinho leaves Real at the end of the season and his heart is set on a return to the Premier League, five years after he left Chelsea. In recent weeks, rumours have linked Mourinho to Manchester City and a possible return to Stamford Bridge, but the Mirror claims the man they call the "Special One" wants to take over the helm at Old Trafford.
With Real paired with United in the Last 16 of the Champions League, Mourinho sees it as a perfect opportunity to showcase his managerial skills in front of a captive audience.
He did something similar in the 2004 Champions League, when his Porto side came to Old Trafford and stunned United en route to the title. Within months he had been appointed coach of Chelsea, heralding a tempestuous three-year reign in which Mourinho guided the Blues to two league titles.
The Mirror claims that Mourinho has already laid the foundations at Old Trafford, meeting Alex Ferguson last month when Real were in Manchester to play City in a Champions League group game. The two allegedly met for tea in Salford's Lowry Hotel to discuss the possibility of Mourinho replacing Ferguson when he finally calls it a day.
Certainly the United manager has made no secret of the fact he believes Mourinho has the skillset to be a success at Old Trafford. "He can manage anywhere, absolutely," said Ferguson recently. "I'm not going to put any forecasts on what is going to happen at this club. I won't last forever, but Jose can manage anywhere, there is no question about that."
In the meantime, however, Ferguson will be plotting the downfall of the Young Pretender ahead of the first leg at the Bernabeu on 13 February before the return match at Old Trafford on 5 March.
"It's the tie of the round," Ferguson told United's official website. "It's a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano [Ronaldo] again and also for me to meet up with Jose again - I'll need to order some good wine!"
Containing Ronaldo will be the big challenge. The Portuguese striker left United for Real in 2009 in a world record £80m transfer, and at least one of his former teammates can't wait to catch up again. "Oh yes, Madrid!!," tweeted Rio Ferdinand. "What a great couple a games that'll be!! @Cristiano see u soon bro!!"