Jose Mourinho's feet are already well and truly under the Real Madrid table. Ever since Wednesday he has been a resident at the Mirasierra Suites, the club's official team hotel.
He has been training his Internazionale players at Real's plush Valdebebas training complex since Thursday and tonight he will be occupying the visitor's dug-out just a few metres from the home bench, where he will almost certainly be sitting next season.
Such is the crack-pot, knee-jerk, short-termism that reigns at the Bernabeu no-one would be surprised if voices inside the club did not start calling for Louis van Gaal to be installed as Real's new manager should he get the better of Mourinho tonight, but it seems nothing can now stop Mourinho's arrival at what Madrid fans refer to as “The White House”.
A three-year deal worth £8.7m a year is ready for him to sign next week. “This result counts for nothing in terms of my future. My decision will not change for one game. Inter owes me nothing and I owe Inter nothing,” he said this week in a two day charm offensive in Madrid paper Marca aimed at convincing wavering fans that he is the right choice to take over. If all goes according to plan he will take charge of his first Real Madrid training session on 2 July.
Club directors decided this week to delay the sacking of Manuel Pellegrini so as to leave no gap between his exit and the arrival of his replacement.
They know Mourinho taking over has not been met with unanimous support and did not want any time for a whole range of other options to be floated to supporters.
Those opposed would prefer Madrid opt for a well-mannered Spaniard who will never bring the club into disrepute but President Florentino Perez is tired of good guys who lose, he wants a winner.
In his seven years as President, divided into two spells, he has worked with eight coaches and of those eight only his first manager — the one he inherited from previous president Lorenzo Sanz — has won him anything.
Vicente Del Bosque won two Leagues and a Champions League, but Perez sacked him before embarking on a seven-year hiring and firing spree that has seen him win precisely nothing. Mourinho will get up people's noses, but it will be worth it to end such a horrendous run of expensively barren seasons.
The club saved £10.5m in bonuses by not winning the league and will also pocket £2.2m if Wesley Sneijder wins the Champions League tonight — that should be enough to land the most expensive coach in football who has already said: “It is not about money, it is about being respected. Italy does not respect me.”
Mourinho has not lost a home game since February 2002 winning 111 of his 136 matches since. Real hope that continues, thereby eliminating the risk of another Alcorcon, or Lyons or Barcelona. They were dumped out of the Spanish Cup by a team of part-timers, the European Cup by an average French side and ultimately lost the league to Barca, all on home soil this season.
Mourinho's first task will be to bring in some of his own players. David Luiz, a 23-year-old Brazilian centre-back who plays for Benfica is first on the list. The 22-year-old Benfica winger Angel Di Maria is another wanted man and Fabio Coentrao, a Portuguese 22-year-old box-to-box midfielder who also plays for Benfica is another option. Inter's Diego Milito has also been mentioned, but Madrid's top heavy side already have one of the most impressive squads of forwards in Europe and Mourinho's priorities will surely lie elsewhere. Milito (pictured) has, along with Sneijder, been the Inter boss's shrewdest signing and he poses the biggest threat to Bayern Munich in a final that has divided Spain.
Madrid fans will roar on Inter having adopted them after they knocked out Barcelona in the semi-finals. Some Real fans even wore blue and black striped shirts in their last home game of the season after Mourinho's men averted every local's worse nightmare — Barca in the final at the Bernabeu.
Barcelona supporters will be backing Van Gaal's Bayern for two reasons. They find Mourinho even more objectionable than ever after, as he put it, he parked the plane at the Nou Camp to protect his first leg lead in that semi-final. They also have happy memories of two league titles won under Van Gaal.
One man who was on the coaching staff when Van Gaal and Mourinho were at the helm, and before when Jose had a slighter lesser role under Bobby Robson, is former player Carlos Rexach.
He recalls how Mourinho took charge right from the off.
He said: “He was Robson's interpreter and he would often go his own way with the translations. Because Robson's Spanish was not very good he would introduce his own shades of meaning. The players saw him very much as one of them.
“I remember when he came back to Barcelona with Chelsea once and a journalist asked him: 'You have progressed a lot, you were an interpreter and now you are the Chelsea manager' Mourinho replied: ‘Yes, and you on the other hand are still asking the same questions'. But he was a really nice guy. He is a great coach who has had good teachers along the way.”
One of those, Van Gaal, stands between him and his second European Cup tonight. He, like the Dutchman, will become only the third coach to win the tournament with two teams if he is successful. Mourinho won it with Porto and Van Gaal with Ajax. Ernst Happel won it with Feyenoord in 1970 and Hamburg in 1983. Ottmar Hitzfeld with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Bayern Munich in 2001.
Mourinho can join that group of three by beating his former boss and then set about reaching another personal career landmark — winning a league in every one of Europe's top footballing nations. Win or lose at the Bernabeu tonight, he will be back very soon.