Mourinho returns for more drama in the global village

Thu May 26, 2016 3:02pm EDT
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By Neil Robinson

LONDON (Reuters) - For all soccer's status as a global game, the pool of its top managers is relatively small and the world's leading clubs often have the feel of a tiny, gossiping village with a managerial merry-go-round on the central green.

Manchester United are replacing Louis van Gaal with his former assistant Jose Mourinho, a man Chelsea no longer wanted who has frequently clashed with new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Manchester's new double act will also have on their radar Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger -- who struggles to hide his disdain for Mourinho -- champions Leicester's Claudio Ranieri and Liverpool's Juergen Klopp, who was Guardiola's main adversary in Germany.

Add in new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who has been called "the Italian Jose Mourinho", and the soap opera possibilities in soccer's village become endless.

What all the central characters share, apart from a clear belief in their own ability, is an elite status which provides a passport to the game's top jobs.

Only Frenchman Wenger has chosen to stay put, overseeing Arsenal for almost 20 years and 1,120 games. The rest are often on the move.

England's League Managers' Association has revealed that the average tenure of a Premier League manager is now little more than two seasons, with 11 of last year's 20 starters already kicked out.

Each new manager knows the clock is ticking on his Premier League career, an understanding that contributes to the bear-pit atmosphere that surrounds many games. Old rivalries are intensified and only the strongest survive.   Continued...

Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho leaves his house in London, May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville