Jose Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes insists his client is “fully committed” to Manchester United and has no intention of leaving Old Trafford any time soon.
Given his side’s Premier League struggles, the Portuguese’s future and happiness has rarely been far from the spotlight in recent months.
Mourinho is the bookmakers’ favourite to be the next top-flight manager to leave their post and woke up to a report on Friday that Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been targeted to replace him next summer.
That story may be behind agent Mendes’ surprise – and rare – statement clarifying his client’s status on the eve of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Fulham.
“There have been more rumours of Jose Mourinho leaving Manchester United,” Mendes said in a statement released to Press Association Sport. “It’s totally untrue.
“Jose is very happy at the club and the club is very happy with him. He has a long-term contract with Manchester United and is fully committed to the club in building a solid winning project.”
Mendes’ comment comes at an interesting time, especially given Mourinho’s agent did not publicly respond to the report that he would be sacked irrespective of the outcome of October’s clash with Newcastle.
Senior sources at the club strongly denied the story to Press Association Sport at the time and it is understood that the manager still retains the backing of the United hierachy.
The 55-year-old has a contract with United until 2020, with an option for a further year, after signing a new and improved deal in January.
It is reported that the contract includes a clause that means it is cheaper to sack Mourinho if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Predecessors David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal paid for failing to reach European football’s top table.
This weekend Mourinho’s side takes on struggling Fulham in need of a timely Premier League boost, having seen the defeat at swashbuckling league leaders Manchester City followed by draws with Crystal Palace, Southampton and Arsenal.
That run – broken up only by a late 1-0 win against Young Boys in the Champions League – leaves United in eighth spot behind the likes of Everton and Bournemouth, with an eye-watering eight-point gap to the top four.
Mourinho’s third season at the club sees United already 18 points behind Pep Guardiola’s City, who they finished runners-up to in a 2017-18 campaign that also saw them reach the FA Cup final.
The Portuguese became the first manager in the Old Trafford giants’ history to win a major trophy in his first season, collecting the EFL Cup and Europa League after lifting the Community Shield. Progress has stalled this term.
While United qualified for the Champions League knockout phase with a match to spare, thanks in no small part to the memorable comeback win at Juventus, they fell at the first hurdle of the Carabao Cup to second-tier Derby and their league struggles have been compounded by off-field matters.
The relationship with star turn and club-record signing Paul Pogba has often been strained, with the manager taking the vice-captaincy off him before September’s meeting against Derby before then having a well-documented training ground disagreement with him shortly after.
Pogba was dropped to the bench along with another big-money signing Romelu Lukaku in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal – a night when this summer’s main acquisition Fred did not even make the squad.
January signing Alexis Sanchez has floundered so far and Mourinho made his annoyance at the lack of a defensive reinforcement known during the summer.