José Mourinho has arrived in London at the start of a week that should see the Premier League's wealthiest clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City, appoint the managers they hope can wrestle the title back from Manchester United next season.
Mourinho could confirm his return to Chelsea on Monday, according to the Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez. The Premier League's official website jumped the gun by announcing the Portuguese had taken over, prompting an apology to the Stamford Bridge club. Chelsea have refused to comment on claims that their former title-winning manager has agreed a four-year contract to succeed Rafael Benítez.
But Pérez, who was re-elected Real president unopposed on Sunday and wants to open his fourth term with statement signings such as Gareth Bale and Luis Suárez, said: "Mourinho is going to Chelsea. Probably on Monday he will be their new manager. We wish him good luck." The 50-year-old ended a turbulent three-year tenure in Madrid on Saturday with a 4-2 win over Osasuna, and to a mix of cheers and jeers from Real supporters in the Bernabéu, before arriving in London on Sunday. Last month he reached a deal with Pérez to leave Real for free by mutual consent despite having three years remaining on his contract.
Mourinho won two Premier League titles, two League Cups and one FA Cup during his first spell in charge of Chelsea between 2004 and 2007 before falling out with the owner, Roman Abramovich. Their relationship has since been repaired and he is expected to be joined at Stamford Bridge by the goalkeeping coach Silvino Louro and his trusted assistant Rui Faria.
The Premier League apologised to Chelsea after an article confirming Mourinho's imminent return was published on their website. Under the headline 'Jose Mourinho makes Chelsea return', and containing Monday's date, the article's sub-headline read: 'Portuguese coach back at Stamford Bridge after signing a XX-year contract'. The Premier League indicated the article was being prepared in readiness for a possible announcement and is attempting to discover whether publication was a result of system failure or human error. A spokesman said: "It was a publishing error. We took it down as soon as we were notified of it and we've spoken to and apologised to Chelsea. We have no prior knowledge of any movement or any announcement [regarding Mourinho]."
City, meanwhile, are due to finalise the terms of Manuel Pellegrini's move from Málaga to the Etihad Stadium this week, having agreed a deal in principle for the 59-year-old Chilean to replace Roberto Mancini as manager.
Pellegrini ended his Málaga reign with a 4-1 defeat by Barcelona on Saturday to finish the season sixth in the table and will hold talks with City officials, including the director of football, Txiki Begiristain, over the coming days as he prepares for his first move into English football. The former Villarreal and Real Madrid coach said: "I have an agreement to start conversations with Manchester City. Some rumours will be right, others won't, but I have kept my focus on Málaga until now.
"Now the league is over we will start from Monday to look forward and to see where my future lies. It is going to be hard for me to leave Spain after nine years. It's a country that has treated me marvellously well. An important era of my life ends, and my future will surely take me to another country."
Everton are also expected to end their managerial search this week although, unlike Chelsea and City, the identity of their appointment remains in some doubt. Roberto Martínez is the favourite to replace David Moyes following two interviews last week with the Everton chairman, Bill Kenwright, but the former Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick and Vítor Pereira of Porto are also under consideration. Kenwright has spent the weekenddeliberating over his shortlist and Everton hope to make an appointment early this week.