This past Thursday, Manchester United decided it was the right time to hand manager Jose Mourinho a new contract. The deal extends Mourinho’s contract at Old Trafford until 2020, a whole one year longer then his original contract.
Immediately fans, pundits, and the club itself were quick to react to the news, throwing around words and phrases like, stability, success, and here for the long haul.
Jose signing a new contract for @ManUtd = stability. Just what we need after a few yrs of chopping and changing managers ??
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) January 26, 2018
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 25, 2018
Of course, none of this actually matters. This is still Jose Mourinho we’re talking about, a manager who has never spent more than three years at any one club. And while the extension may make it seem like he’s going to be sticking around Manchester for the long haul, this isn’t the first time Mourinho has received a contract extension at any given club. In fact, he’s gotten extended in each of his past two stops, which didn’t exactly change how long his tenure lasted.
2012: Real Madrid contract extended to 2016 – gone in 12 mos
2015: Chelsea contract extended to 2019 – gone in 6 mos
2018: United contract extended to 2020 – gone in… pic.twitter.com/hsaEd02wRC
— Samuel Army (@BarstoolSam) January 25, 2018
Based on that history, I wouldn’t be worried if you already bet that Mourinho would be PSG’s manager at the start of the 2019/2020 season.
There are however two things that did pop out about this news. The first was the amount of smart people, Rio Ferdinand included, who actually think this is a big deal. For starters, the extension was for one year, it’s not exactly like they’re locking this guy up long-term.
Managers, like players, get contract extensions all the time and they all mean diddly squat. All this extension does is give Mourinho more money should United fire him next season or PSG would owe United more compensation should they poach Mourinho away before his contract expires (one of these scenarios are most likely playing out).
That’s really the crux of it. Mourinho can’t last at United much more than another year. His style isn’t suited to long-term. His team building strategy simply involves buying the best players, but those players are aging. Sure Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku are only 24 years old, but Nemanja Matic and Alexis Sanchez were both 29 when they were bought. In two years, they may not be able to play week in week out, they won’t have any re-sale value, but they’ll still be on wages that a first choice player should be on.
When that happens, Mourinho won’t have anyone coming up in the pipeline and he’ll demand United just buy the next huge player on the market. Sure United have topped the Deloitte Money League standings for the second year in a row, meaning they can afford to splash around the cash, eventually all those wages will catch up to them. That will happen sooner rather than later, and you can only imagine the falling out between Mourinho and the board room when it does.
The other interesting part of this extension is simply, why now? What exactly has Mourinho done to earn this extension? United are currently second in the Premier League, but are 12 points behind Manchester City and essentially out of the title race. Their place in the table is not so much because of Mourinho but moreso because goalkeeper David de Gea is having a historically great season.
It’s not even February and United are already out of the League Cup, essentially out of the Premier League title race, and while they are still in the Champions League and FA Cup, it’s hard to consider them the favorites to win either trophy.
So what got Mourinho this extension? If it was because he won the League Cup and the Europa League last season then why not extend him this past summer? It doesn’t make sense.
Ultimately this comes down to one of two things. Either Mourinho wants a higher buyout for when United inevitably fire him, or United already know he’s going to be out the door to PSG this summer and he’s doing them a favor by increasing the compensation they’ll be getting when that happens.
Either way, I wouldn’t bet on Jose Mourinho being the manager of Manchester United during the 2019/2020 season, making this extension one big farce.