Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho has sought to stir the pot ahead of his team’s return leg against Manchester United on Wednesday by saying he could take over as manager at Old Trafford when Sir Alex Ferguson finally decides to retire.
Mourinho’s team head to Old Trafford this week looking to progress to the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition following a goalless first leg in the San Siro a fortnight ago.
But Mourinho is hoping to unsettle Reds boss Ferguson by claiming he could be the next United boss and also insisting the race for the Barclays Premier League title would be a tighter affair if he was still managing in England.
"If you want me to rule out ever being Manchester United manager I can’t," says ex-Chelsea chief Mourinho.
"Special clubs need special managers so in theory it could work, but nobody knows what the future is in football.
"The England national team wanted me as coach and that is the biggest job in England, so I am sure when Sir Alex retires they will look at the best managers in the world and I certainly fall into the category."
United currently lead the Premier League table by seven points from his former club Chelsea and Liverpool as they go in search of a third consecutive league crown.
United also have a game in hand to further strengthen their position, but Mourinho believes things would be different if he wasn’t sacked as Blues boss in September 2007.
He added: "Yes, Manchester United are the best team in England but you have to ask how good has the Premier League been since I left?
"Manchester United have won it with ease since I have gone because no manager has put a team together that can rival them.
"But my teams always rival Manchester United and Sir Alex knows that.
"They are a great team but if I was at a top club in England I think the title race might have been a lot closer this year."
Mourinho also had some disparaging words for the teams trailing in United’s wake, adding he would be "embarrassed" to be in their current position.
"Chelsea have had no stability, Arsenal are nowhere and Liverpool threatened but I don’t think anybody really thought they were ever going to win it," he said.
"I would not allow a team of mine to be so far behind. It is embarrassing in March.
"I beat Manchester United with Chelsea and Porto. Now I am ready to beat them with Inter.”