Jose Mourinho considers taking Portugal job as he weighs up whether to quit Roma

Jose Mourinho celebrates - Reuters
Jose Mourinho celebrates - Reuters

Jose Mourinho is considering soundings from the Portuguese football federation (FPF) to manage the national team for Euro 2024 qualifying and beyond, but is reluctant to leave behind 22 years as a club coach.

Mourinho, 59, returns to Serie A action in the new year with Roma in contention for a Champions League place but a long way off the runaway unbeaten leaders Napoli. The question for Mourinho is whether he can fulfil his ambitions of challenging for major titles in this, his 10th club job, or whether to switch to international football.

His chief fears over taking the Portugal job, which would be his for the asking, would be whether he would feel sufficiently occupied without the intense cycle of club football that has dictated his life since he became part of the first-team staff with Vitoria Setubal in the late 1980s. As ever, the preoccupation with Mourinho is winning and the potential to win.

The departure of Fernando Santos has opened up the Portugal job for the first time in eight years, testing seriously Mourinho’s long-stated commitment that he will one day manage his country. Over the years of his biggest success he has been long-listed for the England job, first when Steve McClaren was appointed in 2006 and then later in 2007 and again in 2012 after Fabio Capello quit before the European Championship.

Mourinho’s calculation will be where Roma might be able to take him and his career in this season and the next. He won the inaugural Uefa Europa Conference League last season, the club’s first major honour in 14 years and their first European trophy since 1961. The question is whether they can compete with the best in Europe again.

Jose Mourinho celebrates winning the Europa Conference League with Roma - AFP
Jose Mourinho celebrates winning the Europa Conference League with Roma - AFP

Like many major European clubs outside the Premier League hit hard by Covid, Roma have very few resources in the transfer market. Their net spend in the summer window was €7 million, all on the Turkish defender Zeki Celik from Lille.

Currently training with his Roma squad in the Algarve, Mourinho’s contract runs until the end of the 2023-2024 season and there have been no discussions yet about the future beyond that. It is not anticipated that there will have to be a decision conveyed to the FPF until February with Portugal’s gentle start to Euro 2024 qualifying beginning in late March. They play Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland this season, which may not quite meet the competitive threshold to which Mourinho is accustomed.

Nevertheless, they will be a competitive squad at Euro 2024 and a new generation is emerging with Rafael Leao, Goncalo Ramos and Antonio Silva to complement a very impressive senior group of players. The Cristiano Ronaldo issue is not resolved but certainly he no longer wields the influence of old.

For Mourinho it would complete a story that goes back to the 1980s when his late father, Jose Felix, a one-cap Portugal international in his playing career, was in contention for the national team job. He was overlooked and the opportunity never came again.