Football

This Is How Agonisingly Close Jose Mourinho Came To Joining Liverpool

This Is How Agonisingly Close Jose Mourinho Came To Joining Liverpool

Jose Mourinho versus Liverpool, it seems like a rivalry as old as time itself. Of course, it can all be traced back to the 04/05 season.

In the summer of 2004, Mourinho had just won the Champions League with Porto and would go on to join newly minted Chelsea. On Merseyside, Liverpool recruited Rafael Benitez, who had just experienced UEFA Cup glory with Valencia.

They were two big name managers who would immediately develop a firm dislike for each other. Chelsea were a vastly better team than Liverpool, going on to cruise to a league title during that campaign. However, the way Bentiez got one over on Mourinho in the Champions League semi-final stuck with the Portuguese boss.

Mourinho has held plenty of contempt towards Liverpool in the intervening years, although that has softened somewhat over the past 12 months or so. But things could have been very different.

A new book, Mourinho: Behind the Special One, written by French journalist Nicolas Vilas describes how Liverpool came agonisingly close to appointing the then Porto boss 16 years ago.

As told by ESPN, in April of Mourinho agreed a deal with club chief executive Rick Parry to join The Reds. The pair, along with the manager's advisor Jorge Baidek, had met in a Porto hotel and settled on terms. However, Perry wanted to delay the deal for a couple of weeks as Gerard Houllier had not yet been dismissed. Baidek recalls:

Mourinho should have gone to Liverpool. Rick Parry [then chief executive] was in charge of transfers and we had an agreement. They asked us to wait for 15 days as Houllier was still the Reds' manager.

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This proved to make all the difference.

In the following days, Roman Abramovich would make his move. He was almost a year into his Chelsea project and was looking to appoint a big name manager. He came in with an offer that was described as 'much better' presumably in terms of wages and transfer budget.

Initial talks took place, with the deal being sealed the day after Porto defeated Monaco in the Champions League final. Liverpool would then turn to Benitez instead.

How differently could things have turned out had Mourinho ended up at Anfield? It is difficult to say.

Mourinho was probably the top manager in world football at this time and would go on to have two wildly successful seasons at Stamford Bridge. He would not have had as money to play with at Liverpool, but he could well have taken them to the next level regardless.

Under Benitez, Liverpool would win an unlikely European Cup during his first season in charge. However, they only challenged for the title on one occasion under his stewardship.

It certainly would have been interesting to see how things played out if Rick Parry had been more decisive in bringing Mourinho on board.

SEE ALSO: The Stars Of Sunderland Til I Die Season 2: Where Are They Now?

Gary Connaughton

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