Manchester United now realise they made a catastrophic error by appointing David Moyes instead of Jose Mourinho at the end of last season. But, given the opportunity, they will not make the same mistake twice.
Mourinho was, by all accounts, desperate to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson last summer. The Portuguese coach was coming to the end of his Real Madrid tenure and had every reason to believe he was top of Ferguson’s list of potential successors thanks to his remarkable CV.
In terms of trophies won over recent years, only Pep Guardiola rivalled Mourinho - and the former Barcelona coach had already agreed a deal to become the new manager of Bayern Munich when Ferguson stunned the world by announcing his retirement on May 8 2013.
The most successful British manager of all time felt that Moyes was the safer option. Mourinho, after all, was famed for not sticking around at clubs; a nomadic manager who arrived, conquered and then left no sooner than he’d arrived.
But you can be absolutely certain of one thing: he would have been at Old Trafford for a lot longer than 10 months, which is precisely how long Moyes was afforded before he was unceremoniously sacked - not undeservedly - on Tuesday morning after a debut campaign which bordered on the absurd.
Sure, Mourinho may not have won the Premier League or the Champions League with the Red Devils’ current squad, but he would have guaranteed a top-four finish at the very least.
That Manchester United officials have reportedly already contacted Mourinho with a view to luring him from Stamford Bridge this summer says it all: they know they got it badly wrong last year, and you can’t blame them for testing the waters, no matter how unlikely the chances of the Chelsea icon leaving the west London outfit this summer.
But the fact Mourinho has, according to reports, not ruled himself out of contention for the vacancy at Old Trafford speaks volumes. The Manchester United managers’ position was his dream job - and there’s no reason to believe that feeling has left him purely on the basis that he’s now back at Stamford Bridge.
If he still harbours ambitions of becoming the Manchester United manager, then he owes it to himself to leave Chelsea and accept the Red Devils’ offer this summer. The opportunity might never come around again.
If Mourinho wins the Champions League with Chelsea this season then he will have even less reason to stick around at Stamford Bridge. He will have already won every major trophy with the Londoners - and, in order to stay motivated and inspired as a coach, Mourinho would surely relish the challenge of being the man to mastermind Manchester United’s route back to glory.
It wouldn’t be an straightforward decision, of course, and there would be no easy way to break the news to the Chelsea supporters. Accepting the Manchester United job would be akin to treason in their eyes - and the man they currently idolise would become public enemy No. 1.
But with millions of Manchester United supporters backing him, that discontent would pale into insignificance.
Mourinho didn’t grow up a Chelsea fan. He was employed by the club for a few years, won some titles, and has now returned - but only because Manchester United didn’t appoint him last summer.