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Bryan Robson SPOT ON About Former Chelsea Boss

With time running out on Sir Alex Ferguson’s career, panic sets in whenever I start to think about the reality of this. Until very recently, there have been no genuine candidates for the job, as far as I’ve been concerned. Whilst when one of our players looks set to retire and move on you find it relatively easy to pinpoint the perfect replacement, there had been no name of manager that seemed to perfectly fit the space about to be left by Ferguson. That is partly to do with the fact he’s been here for over two decades and won more than any other manager has in this country, but also because of a lack of options.

Guus Hiddink, Marcello Lippi, Fabio Capello and the like have been banded about for years. More recently, Jose Mourinho is another name to be added to the list. Of every manager seriously linked with this job, what will essentially become the biggest football appointment of all time, Mourinho is the last man I want at this club and I cannot understand why people feel differently.

You were conned. If you bought in to TSO nonsense then you were duped in to believing in a fantasy.

At Porto, Mourinho took over a side who had finished 2nd for the two seasons before he took over, and first for the five years before that. In fact, they were just one point away from Boavista the season before Mourinho became Porto manager. Mourinho turned the team that were second best in Portugal by one point to the best team in Portugal, following the dramatic decline of Boavista, who finished 10th in Mourinho’s first season.

The team was already there for Mourinho. Carvalho, Deco, Costa and the like were players he inherited. He told them they were going to win the league in the following season and they did.

The next season, the Champions League became a notch on Mourinho’s footballing bedpost. Thanks to a weak grouping, they made it past the Group Stages with ease, despite only winning half their matches. They knocked out United thanks to the linesman wrongly ruling out Paul Scholes’ goal, despite several players playing him on-side, which would have put us 2-0 up before half time. They beat Lyon 2-0 at home, lucky enough to face the French side without their star man, Juninho, who was injured. Then they played Deportivo in the semis, a team who any top side would jump for joy at being drawn to play in the Champions League semi-final. After drawing 0-0 with Deportivo at home, they beat the Spanish side 1-0 away, thanks to a penalty and their opposition playing with ten men for the last 20 minutes of the match. Then they beat the third best side in France that season, Monaco, in the final.

Winning the European Cup under any circumstance is an achievement, but there’s no denying Mourinho had probably the easiest, luckiest route to lifting the trophy since the competition was rebranded as the Champions League back in 1992. The only top team they faced was United, who they beat thanks to an absolutely dreadful decision.

Regardless, Chelsea took him on and again he inherited the second best team in the league. Ranieri had secured the deals for the likes of Petr Cech and Arjen Robben, as well as already bringing in Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Claude Makelele, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Damien Duff and William Gallas, to name a few. We must also remember that John Terry made the jump from youth team player to first team starter under Ranieri, who integrated the now Chelsea captain in to the first XI during his first season in charge of the club, when Terry was just 20-years-old. So good was this squad, they had just reached the Champions League semi-final.

Ranieri, whilst too fond of tinkering to make it at Chelsea long-term with Roman Abramovich around, built Mourinho a title winning squad. Mourinho simply took hold of the reigns, told the players they were the best, limited their creative flair as much as possible, stressing the importance of a defence, and Ranieri’s players won the league. It was also fairly nice timing for Mourinho that United, Arsenal and Liverpool were all incapable of mounting a title challenge that season.

But as time went by, Mourinho sold off Ranieri’s squad, replacing the talent with the likes of Ben Haim, Sidwell, Boulahrouz, Malouda, Wright-Phillips, Kalou, Pizarro and Ferreira. In his last full season with the club, they finished eight points behind United on the day the title was won, despite bringing in one of the best defenders, one of the best midfielders and one of the best strikers in the World in the summer, to add to what was already a title winning side. In contrast, United bought just Michael Carrick.

Whilst all managers are guilty of signing the odd poor player every now and again (Think Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba, Taibi…), Mourinho signed an awful lot of them in an awfully short space of time. In fact, all his best signings were players every top club in Europe were interested in, but Chelsea could afford to outprice them. Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Michael Ballack, for example, were hardly unearthed gems no-one had heard of before. The only players Mourinho signed who were unknown all turned out to be crap: add to the list above Kezman, Maniche, Jarosik, Tiago.

Whilst defensively brilliant at their best, conceding just 15 goals in 04-05, their attacking game was not good enough, scoring just 72 goals, an average of 1.9 goals per game. Whilst scoring almost two goals per game will certainly help your title bid, it doesn’t quite match up to the style of football Manchester United demand. When you consider just five years before Mourinho showed up, United scored 97 league goals in a season, an average of 2.6 goals per game.

Mourinho doesn’t make great teams, he just keeps great teams afloat. He doesn’t do it through his ability to rebuild teams, as Ferguson has time and again, rather by getting the most out of the great players he’s been given, he doesn’t do it through his willingness to play thrilling football, rather by effectively controlling the game and waiting for the opportunity to pounce. So far, we have no proof of anything to the contrary, as it is what has happened at Porto, where he spent two years, and Chelsea, where he spent three years. He now manages Inter, who have won the title for three years on the trot before his appointment.

Bryan Robson has made the point I make every time someone tells me Mourinho should be the man to take over from Ferguson. They confuse his big personality and bigger ego with raw talent and managerial excellence. He is not good enough for Manchester United, at least, he hasn’t proved it in the eight years he’s spent managing, so Robson wants a man who can play the United way and adhere to the footballing style put in place by Sir Matt Busby.

“I just don’t agree when I hear people say that Jose is the perfect boss to take over from Sir Alex,” said Robson. “Jose is a great coach and the things he achieved at Porto and Chelsea mean he commands huge respect. But Manchester United aren’t just a club who only want to win things. The fans demand that success is achieved by playing the Manchester United way. Attacking football is a vital part of the club’s heritage. For me, Jose Mourinho is too cautious in his approach to the game to be manager of Manchester United. The important thing for any manager who follows in Sir Alex Ferguson’s footsteps is to recognise the traditions of Manchester United and maintain them.”

If Ferguson passed on this great squad to Mourinho, we would probably be fairly successful for a couple of seasons. His man-managements of the superstars, making them believe they are even better than they think they are, would certainly see us brimming with confidence that could win us a trophy or two. But when these players started moving on, getting too old, not fitting in, who would Mourinho buy to replace them?

Our fans are already pissed off enough with the Glazer takeover and rising ticket prices, can you imagine if on top of what we already have to bear, our entertaining football got taken away from us too? Brilliant, we might go three years without losing at home, but we would be forced to endure controlled, dull, defensive, yet effective football. I’d take the 17 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat at home of last season over the 12 wins, 7 draws and 0 defeats Mourinho managed at home in his last season.

Who’s the man for the job? At the moment and for the first time ever, I have what I would regard a good shout for an answer. Martin O’Neil. He’s been linked with the jobs for years, so I realise I’m not bringing about a massive revelation here, however what he did at Celtic and Leicester wasn’t enough. What he’s doing with Aston Villa though is really starting to make him stand out from everyone else though.

Villa finished 16th the season before he took over, 11th in his first season (8 points better off), 6th in his second season (10 points better than the season before) and now they’re third, three points behind Liverpool, two points ahead of Chelsea, and seven points ahead of Arsenal. They’ve scored just one less goal than United this season and the team revolves around an English core. This is the kind of manager we’re looking for.

Mourinho, who was at United’s 1-0 win over West Ham yesterday, can fuck off. I couldn’t care less how amusing he is in the press conference, how passionately he may celebrate an important goal, what kind of inspiring team talks he gives to his players. Essentially, he’s a lucky bastard who managed to pull the wool over people’s eyes in to thinking he’s something better than he actually is. Whilst able to inspire great confidence in his team, he has shown little proof he’s able to build a great team himself or play anything resembling entertaining football. We need much more than a big personality. His last season in the Premiership should have taught us that he’s nowhere near as special as he’d like to be and with all the money in the World he couldn’t put together a team that played exciting football. After dismantling Ranieri’s squad, he was clueless and trailed United all season. Chelsea’s first XI is made up of players in their 30s because Mourinho couldn’t bring in the right replacements, and that is why Chelsea are now battling to keep their Champions League place for next season. We would be in exactly the same situation if he was our manager when the players in their late 20s/early 30s, Vidic, Evra, Rio, Giggs, Scholes, Brown, Berbatov etc. all need replacing.

O’Neil might not be the future of Manchester United, who knows, but Jose Mourinho certainly isn’t.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Drew Vader says:

    And yes Gordon, the world will fall apart for United when Ronaldo leaves. Whoever is in charge will probably just light the 80 million plus on fire. Forget actually putting the money to use for replacements….

  2. Colbert says:

    I have a feeling that Fergie will retire at the end of this current season – if we do particularly well in terms of winning trophies (i.e. – PL, CL + 1 other). The club must already be in the stage of quietly planning who they’ll appoint as his successor.

  3. Drew Vader says:

    All in all, pardon my french, but i hope we FUCKING STUFF inter. And just out of curiosity, how many times has fergie been over in the San Siro in the last month? TOS is pissing himself….

  4. invertedquestionmark says:

    One dday Mourinho might become good enough. Currently he is not. End of discussion.

  5. denton davey says:

    I’m just hoping that SAF doesn’t go – sooner or later. Why can’t he continue for another seven or eight years ? The guy’s energy level is amazing, his attention to detail is tremendous, those who doubt his strategic genius should re-read his remarks about how he deployed the team against the RentBoyz this year, and his ability to keep a large squad seemingly happy seems unsurpassed.

    In any sport, passing the torch is a tricky matter which rarely turns out well – the Shankly/Paisley transition seems almost unique. And after Paisley things didn’t go so well and then slowly wound down for the Red Scousers.

    When UTD hired SAF he was a fantastic success at Aberdeen; from what I can gather, there’s no young coach/manager on the horizon who has a similar resume (obviously, Guardiola at Barca won’t be a candidate). So, the choice seems to be between an unknown – like Ole-Gunnar – or someone like Moyes/Bruce who has done well with limited resources in the EPL or TSO/MO’N who has lots of money to spend and has had results in a variety of different clubs.

    I’m partial to taking a deep breath and letting OGS have a shot at it – sure, it would be a gamble but Fergy has always spoken very highly of him and his courage/loyalty. The upside would be a seamless transition, with the possibility of another quarter-century of dominance; the downside – which is probably more likely – is that Ole-Gunnar (or whoever gets the job would be inheriting something of a poisoned chalice since the standards SAF set are so very high). Fergy has always been willing to let youth have a go; I’d be surprised if he didn’t feel the same way when asked about suggesting his successor to the Glazers.

  6. davetian says:

    Well said denton davey. The more i think about it, the more i’d love Ole to take over wen Sir finally decides he’s had enough.

  7. Imy - Mcr says:

    Come on lads, there’s only one man for the job and noone has mentioned his name yet. SAF will be here for another 5 years, don’t worry about that! In that time young Darren would have brought Posh into the the Prem League, take over at Celtic, win Uefa Cup, SPL and take them to the Semis of CL and then he will walk into his father’s footsteps and take over at the greatest club in world football.

  8. cherry says:

    Lads, what about wenger? Am I the only one here who is thinking that the bastard would make a good replacement for fergie? He would be able to bring up the Da Silva’s very well. He is my candidate

  9. Lukenestler says:

    I hope that’s a fcuking joke, Cherry!!!

  10. EastStandManc says:

    Scott, while I’m not Maureen’s biggest fan (and I agree with 99% of what you’ve said in the article) saying that he doesn’t know how to play attacking football is a bit harsh. He took apart a classy Monaco side 3-0 in the CL Final using a team that played with poise and panache and in his first season at Chelski, played that famous 4-3-3 with Duff and Robben, often to devastating effect. Now, the cynic in me would argue that Monaco disappeared in that Final and that Duff and Robben weren’t Maureen’s players, but like I say, a little harsh to say he doesn’t know how to play attacking football.

    The only way I could see it working (him coming to OT) is if he has Queiroz as his assistant manager and the two just don’t get along, so it isn’t going to happen.

    As for other candidates:

    MON is a good shout, as is Moyes. Queiroz is a good assistant, no more, as his spells with Real and Portugal are proving (I’d love to see him back in his old role, though). The established continental elite are simply too old. Zola has had what? 8 games of doing well? Jebus, talk about jumping on the bandwagon!

    Jobs for old boys is a risky policy to put in place. Nobody from our old ranks (apart, perhaps, from Laurent Blanc) is having much sustained success, although, admittedly, Brucie’s doing well at Wigan. Keano struck me as the only former player to’ve had the mental fortitude to deal with situations that come with managing United, but unfortunately he couldn’t even hack it at Sunderland, so he’s no longer a contender (unless he stuns us all by taking a Continental side on to CL glory or somethin’!)

  11. Haakon says:

    Excellent post mate. I have to confess I hadn’t made up my mind concerning Mourinho. But you make some great points there. You’re absolutley right. As much as he is a great motivator and has a ego which suits handling great players, he’s not United quality.

    I think we need to copy Liverpools success formula during the 80s; recruit from within to keep continuity. What about Robson himself? He’s kinda lining up himself there, with that quote.

  12. timbo says:

    bjd – anyone who trundles out standardized and highly unoriginal put-me-downs of the intellectually challenged like ‘get over yourself’ isn’t one to accuse others of using clichés.

    As for your point about Chelsea’s superiority a few seasons ago under ‘the special one in his own mind’, any true aficionado of the game would be well aware that United was in one of it’s numerous transitional rebuilding phases – something Moronico has very little experience of. He simply picks up the pieces that other have put in place for him, rides the success for a couple of seasons with his effective but highly unattractive style of football, or without any thought to long welfare of the team, then jumps ship to the next A-list club on the rise. He’s NEVER stuck around long enough to pull up his sleeves and show if he has any mettle by rebuilding a side, which is why his comments last season about his superior track record in England, compared to Wenger and Ferguson, were as spurious and laughable as your own comments. Riding the gravy train only to hop off when the gradient gets too tough is certainly not a sign of superiority, it’s simply a sign of weakness – and let’s not forget he was thrown off the train last time! The fact is that the last season and a half at Chelsea showed how limited Moreno is as a manager and what a poseur he is at heart. He’s simply a one trick pony with a massive ego and a big enough reputation to jump on to the next big thing when it comes along. He may well win it all this season – again – because of the work others have done before him at Inter Milan by putting together the pieces of a great squad. And yet again in a couple of years time as things start to slide he’ll jump, or be pushed, and move on.

    That does not make a great manager, just a great opportunist with a good sales pitch, one that lasts for a certain amount of time and then begins to wear thin. At some point you have to roll up your sleeves and do the hard yards, which is why Wenger and Ferguson are easily the best managers of the last 20 years in the EPL. Mourinho doesn’t even come close. Wenger and Ferguson have the humility, the clout, and the vision to sacrifice short term personal glory by sticking with a side and helping to rebuild it time and time again. That takes character. Mourinho’s vanity and preening need to be top dog all the time serves nothing but his own self-interest, and the clubs he hires on with suffer for it in the long term as a result – look where Chelsea is now, saddled with an aging team with no place to go but down – save Deco, this is Mourinho’s doing. And let’s not forget, this was a team that was set up by a Russian billionaire with a blank cheque approach to buying championships – Toto the monkey could have managed Chelsea to it’s success of a few years ago. And Toto would have been better company.

    So basically, bjd, the article is basically spot on. The only thing it didn’t go on to state is that the quality of football in the EPL this year is of a very poor standard, Manchester United included. Paul Ince nailed it himself only last week when he stated that it was some of the poorest quality football he’d seen in the EPL for some time. With a couple of exceptions, United don’t seem to have come even close to reproducing the form of last year and have looked like an ugly, stuttering shadow of the team that nearly – and should have – taken all before it last season. The way they’ve been playing, the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal should have gone streaking by them this season, but they in turn have been playing poorly as well for one reason or another. In 40 odd years of watching top flight football I can barely recall a season of such poor standard, particuarly from United and its much vaunted forwards. It’s been almost bewildering to watch them climb up to the pinnacle of the competition whilst playing so poorly. It’s simply the defense, and the odd ugly goal, that’s kept them in it. I’ll certainly take the win, and the championship, if it comes our way, but I won’t be terribly enthused over the way we’ve managed to accomplish it this year. My only hope is that their superlative form of last year kicks in soon and we can watch the team bring it all home with the style and verve we’ve all become accustomed to over the years.

  13. rob the red says:

    Scott! Superb article, you are correct in every department! The only thing he is superb at is being in the right place at the right time to further his own career. I have said this for a long time. For him to take over from SAF would end in disaster for the club, and you thought that was dull yesterday? That was an enthralling match compared with what the team would procuce under his management. Never never never must he get hold of the reigns at O.T. Once again Scott superb article, this needs to be read out at the next board meeting at O.T. I said yesterday on your live blog if Carling made football blogs it would be RoM, well having read this one I think they do!!!!……… Fergie Fergie give him a job!

  14. rob the red says:

    Well Scholari has just been sacked and Sky are prattling on about Mourinho this Mourinho that! Send it to them aswell.

  15. Colbert says:

    Well said Timbo. By the way, let’s all laugh at Chelsea!

  16. bruce thomas says:

    Let’s hope Darren can make the grade in time then.

  17. SteRDLK says:

    It has to be O’Neill. He has proved time and time again he has all the tools to succeed in a big job. He has 3 years to show he can do it at a big club, before the biggest of all (hopefully) come calling. He buys English players, and despite my dislike of the National team, love seeing English / British players at United. He has taken a sleeping giant and woke them up above all expectations. Imagine what he could do with United.

  18. rob the red says:

    Good piece Timbo.

  19. klauq says:

    bjd – try google “tinkerman” and you will find Claudio Ranieri in WIKIPEDIA!

    To me, TNSSO is a hypocrite. Think about his comment on Ronaldo winning the Golden Boot. And he is also too boastful and arrogant. I would not have him at OT. In fact, he’s is the only one I would not have at OT.

    Martin Oneill was tipped to become SAF’s successor when SAF mentioned retiring before. At that time, he has not proven enough but now he has. He is my first choice.

  20. john ferry says:

    O’Neill with Ole as his No.2. In about five years after O’Neill retires (how old is he ?) Ole will take full charge of the club.

  21. Supersonic Warrior says:

    To totally change the subject for a moment – how come when Spurs fans chant homophobic chants against Sol Campbell, the police get involved. But when opposing fans lately are chanting “You should of died in the tunnel” to Ronny – f**k all happens? No one batters an eye lid. Disgrace.

    I’m not just saying this because I follow United. I’d be saying the same about any player in the league. Scouser, cockney or an ex President of Real. It doesn’t matter.

    The line has to be drawn somewhere. It’s no longer ‘banter’ when thousands of ‘adults’ have to resort to wishing death on a footballer due to, lets face it, pure jealousy.


  22. bchilds says:

    Wow, what a fantastic read. Thanks Scott the Red, informative & written with passion, I throughly enjoyed your article.

  23. mufcdc says:

    The last decision Sir Alex makes as manager of Manchester United should be his successor. Well, not literally, as it will take time to sort out the details, but I think it’s important that the new man is Fergie’s man to keep the fans onside. SAF will then walk away from the club, and keep out of the spotlight for a few years, popping up to back the manager 100% when needed. When he’s had some time out of football and we’ve got a stable situation (and I hope it’s with the first attempt, I think we’ll see more of him in an ambassadorial role, like Sir Bobby (and by then, Sir Ryan!).

    I’d like to see MON with Quieroz returning as his #2 for continuity. CQ knows the structure at United, even if he’s been desperate to prove himself on his own, I think he’d come back for another spell. He gets more than his fair share of the blame for our tactics between titles, and that’s because some fans won’t admit that aside from Ruud and a few others, we weren’t good enough.

    Ole’s got a future with United but I don’t think he’ll ever manage the first team. I’d love to be wrong, but I don’t see it happening, because I can’t see him leaving to take on a top job elsewhere. Perhaps in a few years he will, but part of me wishes he’ll stay at United for life, taking care of the reserves and helping the first team train.

  24. JackenDasGrock says:

    i wouldn’t mind seein Brucie managin us. He has done amazin things with what little he has, imagine what he could do with the resources at united. I would obviously prefer o’niell, but don’t think o’niell will end up at united.

  25. Le Roi says:

    I often see Martin O’Neill referred to as a “young manager”. He is 10 years and 2 months younger than Sir Alex. In other words, this summer he will be the same age that Fergie was when we won the treble in 1999. With that in mind, has he achieved enough to be considered for the Man Utd job? I’d like us to go for a manager who has experience at the top level, but is under 50, and will therefore potentially be around for 10 years. At the moment, only Mourinho ticks those boxes for me.

  26. Red-Dan says:

    lads what if O’Neill gets the chelsea job now?

  27. King Eric says:

    Red-Dan – No chance mate, he has more sense and respect for himself to go to that shower.

  28. Haakon says:

    pej: how dare you call this blog biased? :)

  29. Naed says:

    Many thinks that Carlos Queiroz could take over the managerial position from Ferguson when he retired, but honestly, I think that he is more suitable to become the No. 2 man instead of No. 1. Means, he is there to arranging tactical decision for the team. Besides, I thought he hasn’t done well enough during his managerial career at Real Madrid, and now Portugal?

    Well, I agreed with you Scott, that Martin O’Neill is a leading man for United job. However, if we changed manager, we have to be patient and give time for him to do the job. Don’t be like Chelsea or Real.


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