Where should José Mourinho go next?
Where next for José?
After a brief hiatus from the game following his sacking by Manchester United, José Mourinho is back on the market. Missing the rough and tumble of day to day football management, the Portuguese has put himself back in the shop window by demonstrating his exceptional tactical insight as a pundit on Sky Sports, hoping to soften the damage his recent failure at Old Trafford will have done to his reputation.
So what next for the self-proclaimed Special One?
He has enjoyed the most success at clubs where he can foster a siege mentality, awake a sleeping giant and defy the odds with pragmatic, reactive football - often his undoing at clubs who demand not just winning but doing so in style.
Here are a list of semi-realistic destinations for José as he looks to make a triumphant comeback.
The most obvious, and most likely possibility is that Mourinho returns to the Real Madrid, where he toppled Pep Guardiola's dominant Barcelona side, winning LaLiga in 2011/12 and picking up 100 points in the process. Los Blancos have only managed one league title since, in 2016/17, and don't look likely to repeat that feat this season after a disappointing start to Zinedine Zidane's second spell in charge.
After years of European glory, Madrid are well into their hangover phase, and by all accounts club president Florentino Perez sees Mourinho's iron fist as the perfect cure. However, given past conflicts that arose in the dressing room and Mourinho's disregard for entertaining football, it looks unlikely that he would provide the cure to the disease that has plagued their post-Ronaldo era.
Another club in a constant state of crisis, Valencia seem incapable of allowing themselves to have nice things. After a turbulent few years following the departure of Nuno Espirito Santo, the club appeared to have found its perfect manager in Marcelino, who led Los Che to their first trophy in over a decade and secured Champions League qualification. He also oversaw a squad overhaul which disposed of the bed eggs rotting the dressing room. He has since been sacked due to differences with club president Peter Lim.
Marcelino was replaced by former Spain U21 coach and Real Madrid assistant Albert Celades, but in the long term, they will be looking for a more experienced head. Mourinho fits the bill perfectly, and would thrive at the centre of an us-against-the-world narrative. He's also a client of Jorge Mendes, who has close ties with Valencia's board.
Looking at the club's recent past of needless self-harm, it would not come as a surprise if Mou rocked up at Mestalla next season.
Since the fall of the 2011 Milan side that featured the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Thiago Silva, the Rossoneri have been on a downward spiral. From Clarence Seedorf to Genarro Gattuso, no manager has been able to resuscitate this sleeping giant. Even Leonardo Bonucci - a man who fought off armed robbers - was not able to solidify their backline.
Marco Giampaolo will be given time before Milan pull the trigger on yet another coach but a 3-1 defeat to Fiorentina - managed by former Milan boss Vincenzo Montella - at the weekend does not bode well for the San Siro side.
There is talent in the squad, however, and Milan still have the pulling power that comes with the famous red and black stripes. Mourinho might just relish the challenge of lifting them back into the Champions League places.
For years, Paris Saint-Germain have had their mind focused on one goal, winning the Champions League. They have failed to realise that dream thus far - their top heavy squad's soft underbelly proving to be its undoing when the going gets tough. However a relatively quiet yet very savvy summer transfer window indicates an awareness that a change of approach was needed.
Bringing in unglamorous but sensible signings like Idrissa Gueye, Ander Herrera and Pablo Sarabia show an awareness from the club of what's needed: fewer egos and more steel.
Thomas Tuchel's side looked a much more cohesive unit against Real Madrid than they have in years gone by - coincidentally, or perhaps not, without their star-studded front three. But if they fail to overcome the apparent mental block that paralyses them in the knock-out stages again, it might be time for a change of voice in the changing room. Enter: José.
One obvious issue is that Neymar won't take kindly to Mourinho's strict, tough love, run-your-bollocks-off-and-follow-my-every-instruction style of management. Although, if he gets his way, he won't be around for much longer.
In all likelihood, Maurizio Sarri will lead Juventus to a seventh consecutive Scudetto this season, although they will be pushed close by a rejuvenated Inter Milan, led by former Juve and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
Sarri's appointment was indicative of a desire for more style as well as substance in Turin, but should his uncompromising approach see them lose the league title to eternal rivals Inter, his time at the club could be shortlived. The most important thing for Juventus, just as it is for Mourinho, is winning. Accessorising victory with expansive football is an added bonus.
Should the club want a return to pragmatism, José will be waiting in the wings.