Mauricio Pochettino would be the perfect fit as Real Madrid’s next manager, but club president Florentino Perez would prefer Jose Mourinho to return and take over at the Bernabeu.
That’s the verdict of former Real chief Ramon Calderon, who joined talkSPORT on Tuesday to give an interesting take on the club’s hunt for their new head coach, with Antonio Conte and Roberto Martinez also linked.
He also claims the Spanish giants have been in contract with Mourinho about a possible return ‘over the last few years’.
Real Madrid are without a manager following the decision to sack Julen Lopetegui on Monday after just four and half months – 14 matches – in charge.
Los Blancos’ form has been wretched under the former Spain boss – winning just one game from their last seven in all competitions.
The European champions are five league games without a victory, leaving them ninth in LaLiga, and Sunday’s 5-1 El Clasico defeat to Barcelona was the final nail on Lopetegui’s coffin – but Calderon believes the club were ‘unwise’ to axe the boss so soon into his reign.
Real’s biggest problem has not been their manager, Calderon says, but their decision to allow Cristiano Ronaldo to leave and their failure to replace him.
A host of top bosses have been linked with the job but, as Calderon points out, the majority of them are currently under contract with other clubs.
Recent reports claim Pochettino is Real Madrid’s top choice for the now-vacant role and are hoping to appoint the Argentine by the end of November, with Castilla boss Santiago Solari taking over as interim coach.
But Calderon believes Perez is still a big fan of Mourinho and would ideally want the Portuguese to come back for a second spell in charge.
Asked if Pochettino would be a good fit for the Bernabeu job, he told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast: “For sure, he’s proving that at Tottenham, but he has a contract in force at Tottenham and I think he’s willing to stay there.
“He is one of those coaches any big team would like to have on their side.
“[But] I’m sure the president is thinking of Mourinho, he is always the coach he would like to have at Real, but he’s with Man United now.
“Mourinho is the only coach Perez has respected up to now. He gave him all the power for the first time in his life, which was very unusual.
“It’s true that he’s been in touch with Jose in the last few years trying to bring him here again, but being with Man United I think now it’s not possible.
“If he leaves Manchester United I’m sure he’ll be here again.”
Former Chelsea boss Conte and Belgian national coach Martinez have also been linked with the role, although Calderon believes the Real Madrid will struggle to appoint a top boss this time around due to their interfering president, Perez.
He claims the chief has already put a number of high profile managers off the job as he refuses to relinquish his influence over team decisions and signings.
“It’s difficult to find a coach of the right level for Real Madrid because there are no top level coaches on the market,” the 67-year-old told talkSPORT.
“The only one is Conte and he’s asked for a longer term of three years and to have his hands free with signings, but that’s not something the president is willing to give him.
“I think Roberto Martinez would be a good one but he’s under contract with the Belgian team.
“Lopetegui should have thought why Zidane left and why up to five important coaches decided not to come – they know the president is going to interfere too much with the decisions of the line-ups and the signings, and that’s going to be a problem to find a new coach.”
On Lopetegui’s sacking and the problems Real Madrid are facing this season – despite boasting eight Ballon d’Or nominees in their squad – Calderon added: “I think the decision to sack Lopetegui after only two months of the competition was very unwise.
“It’s true the 5-1 defeat to Barcelona was very tough for the fans, but I think it would have been wiser to keep the coach for a few matches more to see what happens.
“The main problem has been letting Ronaldo go, he was giving us 50 goals a season and we haven’t signed another one to replace him, that’s been the real trouble.”