José Mourinho will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season, according to reports in Spain. The Portuguese has come under fire from supporters this season following Madrid's poor start to the domestic season which has enabled Barcelona to establish an 11-point lead over Mourinho's men.
They are also five points behind second-placed Atlético Madrid despite Saturday night's 2-0 defeat of their near-neighbours. Mourinho was jeered by sections of the crowd in last Tuesday's Copa del Rey defeat of Alcoyano, prompting the former Porto, Chelsea and Internazionale boss to offer supporters the chance to vent their frustration by arranging to come to the side of the pitch 40 minutes before the Atlético game.
The reaction was mixed but with less than 5,000 fans inside the Bernabéu at the time, it offered little indication as to how the majority were feeling. Nevertheless, it is now being speculated that Mourinho and the Madrid president, Florentino Pérez, have agreed his tenure at the club will come to an end next summer, reports guardian.co.uk.
Under a picture of a broken heart, Marca says: "José Mourinho will not coach Real Madrid next season. Both Mou and Florentino Pérez believe the Portuguese's cycle on the bench at the Bernabéu is exhausted and that the current situation cannot continue beyond 30 June."
Mourinho was prickly when asked about the report at Real's press conference Monday, ahead of their game at home to Ajax.
"I am not going to speak about this. Speak to your colleague about it, the one who has written the story," Mourinho said. "Organise a meal with that person. I'm not saying a single word."
Mourinho was asked whether Pérez was happy with the way he was running the team. "Ask him," Mourinho replied. "I don't have to say when I spoke with the president, I don't have to say what we spoke about. I don't suppose the president will say anything either. We have a very good relationship. But I am not going to try and add to this situation."
Asked whether he was going to continue in the job, he answered: "For me there is no story."
Marca, which is known to have strong links with Real, reports that Pérez has become concerned by a number of incidents this season which have not cast the club in a good light.
Firstly, there was an incident with Sergio Ramos which saw the Spain defender put on Mesut Ozil's shirt underneath his own after the German was substituted at half-time of a game against Deportivo La Coruña.
Ramos later claimed he was merely showing support for his team-mate but the move was perceived as an attempt to undermine Mourinho's authority. Ramos was later dropped.
There was also the public spat with Alberto Toril, manager of the reserve side Real Madrid Castilla, who play in the Segunda Division. Mourinho accused Toril of focusing too much on results rather than trying to produce young players for the first team.
And it would seem the publicity stunt prior to the Atlético game may have been the final straw.
Marca's report added: "Florentino believes Mourinho is 'committing suicide' with his decisions and statements this season – the Ramos case, the war with Toril and checking the pulse of the Bernabéu.
"They will try to get to the end of the season in a friendly manner as Florentino does not want a crisis in the middle of the season. But what is certain is that the decision is taken: this will be the last season of the Mou tenure in Madrid."
The speculation is sure to alert a number of clubs around Europe and, in particular, England where Mourinho is still highly regarded following his spell at Stamford Bridge where he won two Premier League titles and one FA Cup.
He has been linked with a return to Chelsea, currently under the interim stewardship of Rafael Benítez, and Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson finally retires.
Ferguson is a fan of Mourinho and, asked if the Portuguese could replace him at Old Trafford, he told ITV4: "He can manage anywhere, absolutely. I'm not going to put any forecasts on what is going to happen at this club.
"I won't last forever, but José can manage anywhere, there is no question about that."
"Friends are like this," Mourinho responded. "Friends always speak well of each other. His succession isn't near. It should be in 10 years or so. He is getting better and better. He is stronger all the time. Why should he retire?"