Bren vs. Bran, our semi-polite debate series, returns from an extended absence to discuss one of the stranger rumors we've ever encountered: the possibility of José Mourinho double dipping, managing both Roma and the Portuguese National Team in 2023. With Portugal bowing out of the 2022 World Cup earlier than expected and with a potential changing of the guard on the pitch after Ronaldo's practical ex-communication from the squad, the Iberian institution feels ripe for a change, but should this new shift involve Mourinho?
To settle that question, Brandon and I went toe-to-toe to talk about Mourinho potentially moonlighting with Portugal's National Team this season. Can he do it? Should he do it? What would it even look like?
Bran and I debated these points and a few more. And once again, just for posterity's sake, Brandon, a/k/a BSanti, doesn't actually go by Bran, but it fits the schtick.
Enjoy, and please give us your take!
Before we get too deep into the weeds, what’s your knee-jerk reaction to the idea of Mourinho managing Roma and the Portugual NT simultaneously?
Bren: Shocked, really. The Portuguese National Team being interested in the most famous Portuguese manager of all time makes sense, of course, but the notion that he’d do both simultaneously caught me off guard. I know it’s happened several times in the past, and Mourinho is certainly serious and dedicated enough to survive it, but my instant, gut reaction was…oof.
It would certainly make for some interesting press coverage, but my knee-jerk response was that this story was merely tabloid fodder, but it seems to have staying power.
BSanti: Totally fine with it. In fact, I’ll go one step further, and say I’m all in. I think that if Mourinho feels like he has the capacity to manage both roles, and both Roma and the Portuguese Football Federation are comfortable with the arrangement, then why not?
We know that Jose wants to manage the National team at some point, but at the same time, we all know his current affection and commitment to Roma, so it certainly may become a difficult decision for The Special One to make. With this? You ostensibly get the best of both worlds if you’re Mourinho.
And hey, plenty of far less-experienced managers than Jose successfully managed both roles over the years on FIFA; let’s give him a crack at it.
What are the possible benefits of this move?
Bren: I mean, if this somehow leads to Joao Felix in a Roma shirt, you won’t catch me complaining. But that seems to be everyone’s first response: Mourinho would give Roma a pipeline to the top Portuguese talent.
Apart from that, I struggle to see how Roma would benefit from allowing Mourinho to moonlight with the national team. I suppose there’s a chance he might pick up some new tricks or insights from managing the National Team (and maybe even from pitting himself against managers who never dabble in club football), but I don’t see how this move benefits Roma.
It benefits Mourinho, there’s no doubt about that, but I fail to see how the Friedkin family and Roma benefit from this move.
BSanti: Yeah, I suppose it depends on who you’re asking here. If you’re Portugal, I would imagine the glamor attached to a Mourinho appointment would result in a similar level of fanfare similar to what we saw when he first arrived in Rome, and with the talent level of this current generation, Mourinho could accomplish some special things.
If you’re Roma, there isn’t much of a benefit unless you’re pining for a steady flow of transfer rumors linking Roma with every up-and-coming Portuguese player, and maybe even some of the more established ones.
I suppose the double duty would also raise the profile of the club, certainly in terms of exposure. Maybe that’s what convinces the Friedkins to sign off?
What are the potential pitfalls?
Bren: A wise man once said, “A George divided against itself cannot stand.” Admittedly, club football has built-in breaks to accommodate national teams, but if Mourinho isn’t 100% committed to Roma, they need to move on. Besides, it’s not as if Mourinho would be dividing his attention between, say, Cincinnati FC and the Luxembourgian National Team (no offense intended to either fanbase).
The stress that comes with managing Roma is enough to send anyone to an early grave, but when you add in the pressure and responsibility that comes with leading a national side as ambitious as Portugal, I can’t see how Mourinho could give each club/side the attention they require and deserve.
BSanti: Ehh, I see the logic in what you’re saying, but I think some of those concerns are slightly overblown. Mourinho has been at this a long time, I would guess that he’s well aware of his capacity to handle both roles and if he’s actually up for it. Have to have faith in the man...
Of course, I will concede that a definitive pitfall is that when Roma drops points in the league, the calls will be out for him to resign from either role.
Okay, now give us your unvarnished opinion: Are you in favor of this potential Mourinho moonlighting? Why or why not.
Bren: As you can probably guess, I would vehemently oppose this move. To the extent that this is even plausible in the current game, I think Mourinho could manage this, but dividing his attention between the two clubs necessarily means one will get the short end of the stick. It’s just the nature of multi-tasking; one of your tasks invariably gets neglected, whether you intended (or even realized) it or not.
BSanti: By now, you likely have guessed that I’m all in on this move. You’ll see random football Twitter accounts discuss the idea of big managers in club football flocking to national team positions. Alongside Mourinho and Portugal, we’ve seen Guardiola and Spain, Ancelotti and Italy, Zidane and France, Simeone and Argentina, etc.
Let’s get it going, the games would all be absolutely electric.
Regardless of what you just said, is it already time for Roma to think beyond Mourinho?
Bren: It’s difficult to say at the moment. He only has one year remaining on his contract, and while there were whispers of an extension in the works, Mourinho seldom, if ever, stays longer than three years with any club. If you believe this is his last big-time gig, and that turning Roma into an actual winner would solidify his standing among the all-time greats, then maybe he weathers the storm. (Here comes the but)...
But, I have this sinking suspicion that the enormity (and reality) of the task given to him is settling in, and he may look for a convenient exit that allows him to save face and not burn this particular bridge.
I have no idea who the next man up is, but chances are we’ll see a new face on the touchline sooner rather than later, so Roma would be wise to guard against that possibility. It may be time to start compiling a list of eventual successors.
BSanti: I think it’s certainly wise to have a general idea of what you’re looking for in Mourinho’s successor, but while he’s here, you have to go all-in with him, as he and his teams thrive off of that commitment.
Having said that, either he leaves in midseason because things aren’t going well—and the ideal candidate won’t be available until the summer anyway—or, he decides he will leave at the end of his contract, and that should give Roma plenty of time to determine who his successor will be.
I certainly don’t think we need to hit the panic button just yet.
You've heard our say; now give us your take. Which side of this debate do you fall on? Can Mourinho pull this off? Should he even attempt it?