Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has promised not to stand in the way of long-time assistant Rui Faria should he pursue ambitions of becoming a manager in his own right.
United’s bitter rivals Liverpool secured their place in the Champions League final on Wednesday after a turbulent week that saw Jurgen Klopp’s assistant for the past 17 years, Zeljko Buvac, leave the club.
Buvac now leads the betting to become the man to succeed Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager at the end of the season, a role Faria has also been linked with.
Faria, like Mourinho, never played top-level football, but became a significant part of Mourinho’s coaching staff after meeting the future United manager during a seminar day at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium in 2000.
At the time, Mourinho was assistant to Louis van Gaal at Barcelona but, when he became a manager in his own right at Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria in 2001, he took Faria on as his fitness coach, and the two remained together for spells at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
However, Faria’s touchline antics have also made him a controversial figure. In 2014 he was handed a four-game stadium ban for using abusive language towards the officials in a shock 2-1 home defeat for Chelsea at the hands of Sunderland.
“You ask me if I think it would be a good fit and I say ‘yes’. And I say it because he is more than my assistant, he is my friend,” said Mourinho of Faria’s credentials for the Arsenal job.
“If my friend has the possibility one day of a big job, I would help him to pack and to carry the bags and to wish him luck.
“So if one day that is going to happen, the first one to be happy would probably be myself because I met him when he was a kid in his university and we were together for 18 years.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits from Richard Barrett)