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Jose Mourinho on verge of becoming Fenerbahce manager – one of football’s most combustible clubs

Mourinho on the sidelines as Roma manager in December 2023
Jose Mourinho looks set to become the new Fenerbahce manager - Massimo Pinca/Reuters

Jose Mourinho has reached an agreement in principle to take over at Fenerbahce after talks in London on Friday with representatives of the Turkish giants, who are desperate to end 10 years without a domestic league championship.

Mourinho, 61, is eager to work again having lost his most recent job at Roma in January and the offer from Fenerbahce is the best on the table this summer. The former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United manager told Telegraph Sport last month that he does not want to take a break in a career that has seen him working for some of the biggest clubs in Europe for the last 24 years with only a few short periods out the game.

As of Friday evening the two sides had an agreement in principle over salary and contract although the deal was yet to be formally completed. There is not expected to be any obstacle to it being announced over the coming days.

Mourinho suggested he may be on the move again by posting a picture of his luggage on his Instagram stories on Friday. Talks have been going on all day in London. Mourinho will appear on British broadcaster TNT Sports as a pundit for the Champions League final at Wembley on Saturday.

The challenge at Fenerbahce is huge: last season the club amassed 99 points in the Super Lig, lost once all season - in early November - and still finished second behind Galatasaray despite winning away at their rivals. It prompted wild scenes of protest against the club’s hierarchy on the streets of Istanbul. Fenerbahce won their last title in 2014 and since then four different clubs have been champions, including five for Galatasaray.

The club president Ali Koç, an alumnus of Harrow School, and scion of one of Turkey’s wealthiest families, is under considerable pressure to end the run of 10 seasons without a league title. Mourinho represents a major investment for the club. Galatasaray are now just three league titles behind Fenerbahce’s all-time record of 28. Fenerbahce have finished second for the last three seasons.

Koç is running for re-election as Fenerbahce president in polls on June 8 and 9. His opponent Aziz Yildirim had promised to appoint Mourinho if successful, prompting Koç to move first. Both men have said they will support the appointment which may well be announced before the polls. The current Fenerbahce sporting director is the Portuguese national Mario Branco who has worked all over Europe.

Mourinho does not come cheap and will expect to bring staff with him. A two-year deal has been proposed although the exact terms are yet to be agreed. Jorge Mendes, a longstanding associate and sometime agent of Mourinho, is part of the negotiations. It would be Mourinho’s 11th club job, including two stints at Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho's Instagram story teasing his new job at Fenerbahce
Jose Mourinho's Instagram story on Friday - @josemourinho/Instagram

Fenerbahce have a good squad featuring some big names of the Premier League’s past including the Brazilian midfielder Fred, who played for Mourinho at United. The great Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko is their captain and last season’s top goalscorer. Dusan Tadic, Ryan Kent and Michy Batshuayi are all contracted for next term. Fenerbahce will join Champions League qualifying in the second round on July 23.

Mourinho has managed some of the biggest clubs in the world, although even the rivalries of Real Madrid with Barcelona and Manchester United with Liverpool may pale at times compared to that of Istanbul’s two biggest clubs. The combustible nature of Turkish football may – or may not – be a good fit for Mourinho who has not shied away from provocation himself over a long and eventful career.

Batshuayi, once of Chelsea, was one of the players in video footage brawling with Trabzonspor fans who invaded the pitch on their home fixture against Fenerbahce in March. The away side had won 3-2 and their celebrations prompted a pitch invasion and then a fight. The former Queens Park Rangers full-back Bright Osayi-Samuel, now at Fenerbahce, punched a fan to the ground. The violence was condemned by senior ministers in the Turkish government and by Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

Mourinho already has a major endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines, who are a partner of Uefa. His most recent commercial with the airlines presents him as a serial winner, who is one step ahead of his fellow passengers when it comes to virtual chess games and ordering his in-flight meals. The expectation will be that he transforms Fenerbahce into winners too, although nothing else will be tolerated. He will also be under immediate pressure to navigate the Champions League play-offs.

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