Amid the standard responses to an Everton defeat, an interesting discussion sprouted up following the loss to Bournemouth on Sunday.
Disappointed by a second loss this season and another poor performance away from home against a team they expected to beat, some Evertonians were calling for change.
Marco Silva is yet to fully convince at Goodison Park. There have been flashes of quality and signs that the pieces may be falling into place, but inconsistency has often stopped anyone from becoming too positive.
After a strong summer transfer window, in which Silva was given everything he could ask for, minus Kurt Zouma, there was plenty of hope for the Toffees this year. Five games in and that hope is dissipating.
Everton are yet to find a rhythm or show any form moving forward. They certainly do not have the appearance of a club ready to challenge the top six, either this season or in the near future. Indeed, the two times they have had a chance to make an early statement in the table with a victory, they have lost the game.
It’s enough for some quarters to call for change and the man these Everton fans seem to have singled out as their ideal recruit is José Mourinho. The Portuguese manager remains a free agent after leaving Manchester United but has made it clear he’s itching to get back in.
Recent months have seen him doing interviews across the world to put himself in the limelight, and he knows the coming months are when the offers will be available. Some believe one should be coming from Goodison Park.
But if Mourinho is the answer, then what is the question Everton are asking? Appointing him would be a strange move by the Toffees.
If the question is ‘do we want to be successful?’ then Mourinho represents a somewhat logical choice. The Portuguese manager has won trophies at every club he has managed, picking up 27 medals in a glistening managerial career.
Even at Manchester United, his lowest point as a manager by far, he won the Europa League, League Cup and Community Shield in his first season and guided United to second the following year.
He considers the latter his greatest achievement and more are now inclined to agree with that assessment.
Mourinho all but guarantees trophies and for a club that hasn’t won anything since 1995, that would be enough. Evertonians would gladly take a League Cup, a trophy Mourinho prioritises in his first season, at this moment in time. A Community Shield would, sadly, also be considered a significant success, although it’s much more difficult to get to that point.
Similarly, if Everton’s question is ‘how do we get taken seriously?’ then, again, Mourinho makes sense. His star may have fallen over the past 18 months, but he remains a huge name in football.
A club like Everton, who are nowhere near the upper echelon, securing a name such as his, would make waves.
If they can convince someone like Mourinho, a man who could conceivably get a much bigger job somewhere else, to join the ‘project’, it says a lot about said project.
Beyond those two points, though, it’s hard to see how Mourinho and Everton fit. He wouldn’t bring the style of football that most fans crave.
Football has moved on, particularly in the Premier League, and Mourinho looked like a man struggling to keep up in his last days at Old Trafford
It seems unlikely he will have abandoned his style in the intervening year, and with Everton wanting attractive football, that much is clear, he does not offer that.
There are plenty of merits to what he does offer, of course, but it doesn’t marry well with what Everton have been trying to do in recent years. Yet, there’s a debate to be had whether that fits at the club anyway.
Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman and Marco Silva were all supposed to bring better football, but it’s yet to happen. Silva has shown signs and Martinez had a glorious first year, in which Everton produced their most stylistic football in decades, but that fell away when the defence was found to be lacking. A similar issue is now holding Silva back.
And in truth, there are sections of Everton’s fanbase who have no taste for it anyway. Their most successful sides were never the most attractive. Joe Royle’s Dogs of War are still remembered fondly. Likewise for Howard Kendall’s team of the 1980s or David Moyes’ best iterations.
Each side, mainly that led by Kendall, could play football and played it very well, but it was their grit and determination that set them apart.
Read the comments following an Everton defeat, and there are plenty wishing the current side were a fraction as tough, both mentally and physically, as either of those sides were, and large swathes of those inside Goodison Park still prefer a defensive masterclass over a thumping 3-0 win, as ridiculous as that may sound.
Mourinho can certainly provide that. The Portuguese boss is a defensive disciple; one only needs to have listened to his recent analysis on various sports shows to know those cogs are still whirring and there is still some of that old magic remaining.
Perhaps in turning to Mourinho, it would be Everton embracing what they once did best, rather than their so far failed attempts to go with the trend?
But in turning to the past, they would also be abandoning the future. Hiring Mourinho would be a diversion from the path which Marcel Brands has set them upon.
The Dutchman was brought in last summer to rebuild Everton’s transfer strategy from the ground up, and one of the new principles it’s built on is signing and developing young talent.
It’s what Brands made his name doing at PSV Eindhoven; identifying talent from around the world, ensuring they get first-team exposure and development, before selling them on at high prices in future. Everton want less of the latter, but the idea is still there. Signing young players is now the primary focus, alongside the occasional ‘older’ head they deem fit.
Mourinho, though, has no interest in young players. He would provide you with a long list of youngsters he’s given debuts to, and there’s no denying he’s done so, but he generally prefers older, established heads over younger talent. His ethos is the opposite of Brands’ in almost every respect.
It’s unlikely Mourinho, for example, would have pushed or been happy with signings such as Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Alex Iwobi or Moise Kean this summer.
It’s also doubtful he’d have afforded time and patience to the likes of Jordan Pickford, who had a mid-season meltdown last year, or Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who scored his first goal in six months in the defeat to Bournemouth last weekend.
We saw how Mourinho grew irritated with underperforming stars at Old Trafford, demanding new signings on an almost weekly basis. There was none of the patience or long-term thinking that Brands exudes.
It’s easy to imagine the pair would be at loggerheads from day one, particularly given the all-encompassing role Brands now occupies at Goodison. Brands is all about the long-term, Mourinho the short-term. There is a reason why, at every club but Inter Milan (where he left after year two with the treble under his arm), it’s gone wrong in his third season.
He can offer a short-term lift and set up a side to win things in the interim, but he does not plan for the future. Despite his oft-cited desire to build a dynasty at a club, he has shown throughout his career that he aims to win trophies and better the Mourinho brand, not set up a club for long-term success.
And therein lies the crux of the argument.
If Everton intend to stick with their guns and trust Marcel Brands has them heading in the right direction, then José Mourinho is not the manager for them.
The pair do not match up, and the Toffees already learned the hard way how disastrous the situation can become when a Director of Football and manager are not on the same page.
However, if there is suddenly no patience and a determination to hire a short-term, big-name manager who will deliver success but pay no attention to the long-term consequences, then Mourinho makes sense.
It’s a matter of who Everton want to be, and that is the biggest question of all when it comes to José Mourinho.