Jose Mourinho's impending deal hints he sees bright future at Man United
Jose Mourinho will sign a new contract at Manchester United. The club says an announcement is not "imminent," while Mourinho's representatives are more optimistic. The bottom line, though, is that it will get done.
For United, it is a step in the right direction.
After 10 months of David Moyes, four games for Ryan Giggs and two years with Louis van Gaal, Mourinho has offered some stability. Sources have told ESPN FC that he is likely to sign a deal through 2021 with the option of another season. Six years with the same manager is the closest United have come to consistency since Sir Alex Ferguson.
Mourinho is still dealing with the problems that come with chopping and changing. The team he picked to play Stoke on Monday included players signed by four different managers. There are members of his squad he would not have signed; others he would have kept have been sold -- Angel Di Maria and Javier Hernandez to name two. An extended stay at Old Trafford should allow him to implement a more joined-up transfer strategy -- not so much need to fix mistakes and more focus on fine-tuning a squad already going in the right direction.
The ultimate aim is the Premier League and the Champions League. The good news for United fans is that Mourinho would not be sticking around if he did not believe either were achievable targets.
In October, he gave an interview to French television during which he talked up the "special project" at Paris Saint-Germain. You can understand the attraction. A club who have won four of the last five French titles were prepared to splash £198 million on Neymar and commit another £166 million to sign Kylian Mbappe in one summer.
Mourinho knows it is clubs like PSG and Manchester City that he needs to compete with. He has talked about "conditions" at Old Trafford not being quite right to challenge for the biggest prizes at home and abroad.
That he is now willing to commit his future to United suggests he believes that will change.
He has certainly not been starved of cash.
He broke the transfer record for Paul Pogba in his first summer and was given upwards of £75 million to sign Romelu Lukaku six months ago. In total, he has spent £268 million on seven players -- an outlay most managers can only dream of.
But he is not a man who is used to finishing second.
He has won titles with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, and he will expect to do the same at United. That means competing with City and PSG in the transfer market before they go toe-to-toe on the pitch.
Then there is Mourinho's personal battle with Pep Guardiola.
Still 12 points clear with 15 games to go, it would take a spectacular collapse for City to lose the title from here.
Mourinho will not admit it, but his eye -- domestically, at least -- may already be on next season.
The question is how to stop one City title turning into two or three in a row.
Mourinho, more than most, will not want a front-row seat to a Guardiola dynasty in the Premier League. Jumping ship for PSG, where Unai Emery is already under pressure, would have been the easy option.
Staying in England and competing with the Spaniard suggests it is a fight he believes he can win. He has already taken one title from a Barcelona team coached by Guardiola that, at the time, was considered one of the best in the world.
Mourinho created much of the speculation about his future himself.
On some days he has sounded like a man keen to stay at United for the long haul. On others, he has been quick to make it clear he sees his career continuing beyond Old Trafford. For now, though, it has all been put to bed.
It is a positive for United that a degree of stability is back for the first time since Ferguson's retirement. It is better news that Mourinho believes he is in the right place to win.
Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.