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The Unavoidable Next Manager U-Turn

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the firm anti-Jose Mourinho approach for several reasons, written about in STATS: More Reasons To Keep Mourinho Away From United, Mourinho Show Continues to name a few.

In summary: 1. Jose Mourinho inherited a great squad at Chelsea (finished 2nd in the league, reached CL semi-finals) yet after spending hundreds of millions on players over several years, left them with a much weaker squad. 2. The football he played with Porto, Chelsea and Inter was dire. Ultra defensive and ultra boring. 3. He had never developed youth. 4. His personality is dreadful. He brings shame to whichever club he is at with his rants. (lying to the world’s media saying he saw Rikjaard enter referee Frisk’s office, before later admitted he never saw such a thing/laying in to young lad Ronaldo over his education and class/claiming that title rivals Roma would pay off their opponents on the last day of the season to fix the title etc.) No class whatsoever. 5. His success has always been with team’s that have their foundation built – Porto finished 2nd by 1 point season before he got the job, Chelsea finished 2nd and reached the semi-finals of Europe, Inter were champions for the previous two seasons. What if United don’t have such a strong foundation when Ferguson finally leaves? 6. He makes his team’s success all about him. Compare the pictures of Inter’s CL win in 2010 to United’s in 2008. Mourinho is at the centre of everything compared to Fergie not even being in sight. 7. Sir Bobby Charlton and Bryan Robson were against his appointment.

Have things changed?

Transfers – Whilst at Chelsea, Mourinho did not do a good enough job in the transfer market. Michael Essien, Ashley Cole and Dider Drogba were his biggest successes, but all of them were obvious transfers who any manager in Europe would have wanted, if they had the money. He didn’t get any bargains and spent a vast amount of money on average or worse players. Khalid Boulharouz (£9m), Shaun Wright-Phillips (£21m), Asier Del Horno (£8m), John Obi Mikel (£16m), Paulo Ferreira (£13.2m). The players he did get at a bargain price were dreadful, like Steve Sidwell, Claudio Pizarro and Tal Ben Haim.

All managers make mistakes when it comes to transfers, Sir Alex included, but it’s been a long time since the dark days of Kleberson (£6.5m) and Djemba-Djemba (£3.5m). The more recent bargains of Evra (£5m), Vidic (£7m), Ji-Sung Park (£4m) etc. put Jose to shame.

Given United’s financial restraints, there’s no way United could afford to blow the money Mourinho did.

However, his transfer record at Inter Milan has painted his abilities to bring in good players at a good price in a better light.

It’s hard to argue with deals like offloading Zlatan Ibrahimovic + £40m for Samuel Eto’o, Wesley Sneijder for £13m, Diego Milito for £20m, Lúcio for £4.5m.

At Real Madrid, a club notorious for throwing money about, he’s secured some more great transfers. Ángel di María for £25m, Pedro León for £8m, Sami Khedira for £12m, Mesut Özil for £13m, Sergio Canales for £4m and David Mateos Ramajo for £300k, which is pretty good going for one summer’s work.

In conclusion, he wasn’t good enough in the transfer market at Chelsea but has gone some way to proving himself in the years since then.

Playing style – At Porto, Chelsea and Inter, the style of football was woeful. Whilst he proved a success at all three clubs, the idea of watching that dross week in week out was pretty unimaginable. We’ve been spoilt in the Fergie years but a club like United shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for success. When you look at the football Roberto Di Matteo has West Brom playing, it’s hard to excuse Mourinho’s preference for dull football at clubs like Chelsea and Inter where he’s had money to spend.

The argument against this, from those in favour of Jose, claimed that he would be expected to play entertaining football at United, that he would have no choice. That’s a fine argument but if Jose had never employed attacking or entertaining tactics, how did anyone know he could be a success this way? Sam Allardyce’s teams play the same, Rafa Benitez’s teams play the same and looking at Mourinho’s managerial experience, his teams played the same too. Managers stick with what they know and Mourinho knew defensive football.

However, with limited reference to Real Madrid, Mourinho is proving that he can change his style and be a success. Of course, we’ll have to wait until the end of the season to see how far it gets him, but on current form, you can’t help but be impressed.

People can argue that it would be hard not to score goals and play well with such a wealth of talent in the team, but he managed to do just that at Chelsea and Inter. Real Madrid, like United, demand style in their play, and Mourinho is meeting that demand.

Real Madrid are currently the only unbeaten team in La Liga, scoring 22 goals in 8 games (an average of 2.75 goals per game) yet still have defensive strength, conceding just 4 goals (an average of 0.5 goals per game).

In Europe, they have won all three games they’ve played, against AC Milan (currently 2nd in Serie A), Ajax and Auxerre, winning 2-0 twice and 1-0.

Youth – Mourinho’s policy always seemed to be to buy established players, at the peak of their career and a wealth of experience under his belt.

This policy has changed since joining Real Madrid, with him opting to buy young players to develop. This is obviously not a Real Madrid way of doing things, so his own preference.

Ángel di María (22), Pedro León (23), Sami Khedira (23), Mesut Özil (22), Sergio Canales (19) and David Mateos Ramajo (23).

Juan Carlos, who has been at the club since he was 16, was given his first team début this season. Like Ferguson at United, Mourinho is using the group stages of the Champions League to introduce players from the youth team.

“It is always good that the coach likes me, I thank him for the opportunity he has given me, and I hope that I can continue,” said Carlos after the game.

Also, with the UEFA rule change insisting a proportion of homegrown players, Mourinho would have no choice but to take our youth policy seriously.

Which things haven’t changed?

Personality – This can’t be reconciled. For me, I don’t like the guy. He is severely lacking in class and is massively self-obsessed. People reckon he comes out with his controversial statements and puts his face in front of the cameras to take pressure off his team but I just don’t buy it. He loves himself and behaves in a way that draws the attention to himself. His behaviour after beating Barcelona in the semis and then Bayern Munich, was his usual ‘look at me’ routine, which I abhor. Was this to deflect pressure off his team? Obviously not. Whilst I think any successful manager deserves praise, he goes out his way to make himself centre of attention and to get people talking about him.

However, if Wayne Rooney has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have to love everyone at your club. Cristiano Ronaldo taught me a similar lesson a couple of years before. Your most important player might be a total arsehole, he may behave like an idiot off the pitch, he may mess your club about behind the scenes, but their commitment and ability to make your club a success is all important.

The same has to go for the manager in this respect then. It’s not as if Sir Alex is overwhelmingly popular and always behaves in a way that makes us proud.

Mourinho will always be a dickhead, but he may well be our dickhead, and whilst I wouldn’t enjoy seeing him bring our club in to disrepute, it would be fairly amusing to watch him rub all our rivals up the wrong way.

You would also imagine that under the watchful eye of Sir Alex, who will no doubt go on to have some role within the club, his more outrageous remarks would be curbed.

Successful foundation – Real Madrid are the fourth major club Mourinho has taken charge of which already were in a brilliant position. They finished last season with an incredible 96 points, which would have been enough to win any other season comfortably and have one of the best squads in world football.

When Sir Alex retires, we may not be in as good shape as Real Madrid, Inter, Chelsea and Porto were when Mourinho got the job. If we aren’t and he doesn’t have the money to spend, he will be put in to a situation where he is totally unproven. But that is ifs and buts and not a strong enough argument to keep him out of the club.

Conclusion

I’d still prefer someone like Pep Guardiola, who has again been linked with the job in the past week, who has been a great success, employs beautiful football, and is so classy, but I’m happy to concede that Mourinho replacing Ferguson isn’t the disaster I’ve always claimed it would be.

This is obviously a premature reaction, given that we’re only a few weeks in to the season, however in just a short space of time at Real Madrid Mourinho has already started to right the wrongs of his career which I believed made him ill qualified for the United job.

The fact that he is so desperate for the United job obviously adds weight in Mourinho’s favour. For him to recognise what a massive club we are and to have a clause written in to his Real Madrid contract to release him purely to become manager of our club certainly makes it easier to approve his arrival at United.

Aside from all his strengths and failings mentioned above, the overriding and undeniable factor is his ability to make his players believe in themselves. I wouldn’t want a team of players with an attitude like John Terry, who Mourinho enabled to believe in himself a little too much, but to have a team of players who are always looking to be successful, always want to win and always believe in their ability to do that. Sir Alex has created this culture at United and there probably isn’t a better man in the world to continue that on.

I’m not great at changing my mind and even worse at publicly admitting that I’ve changed my mind but his performance at Real Madrid, answering the questions that have been asked of him on this blog, meant the U-Turn in thought was unavoidable. My apologies to the staunch anti-Mourinho brigade who I’ve abandoned…


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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177 Comments

  1. musvn says:

    Personally, I like Mourinho. He seems a nice guy. I know Scott thinks he is self-obsessed, but I think it was the old day, plus he was Chelsea’s manager at the time. I meant he was still very young into his career and for all the success he had, it was hard not to “proud” of it wasn’t it? I want to use the word “immature”, as a manager, in his case. But since he controversially left Chelsea, I think he realized something and became less self-obsessed. I’m sure Sir Alex had called him and given him a bit of advice ;) You can see the way he talking is different now, of course there still a bit of arrogant, which is his signature character, but not like some shocking claim before. He now puts more thoughts into his claim, or interview, so that’s a sign of his maturity.

    Ability wise, I’m sure no one will doubt him. The only thing that I’m worry about is, like Scott said, youth policy. Developing youngsters has always been a tradition at United, and I dont want to see it disappears. But again, we cannot judge him on his skill of developing young players because he is only at Chelsea, which at its prime, for 4 years and Inter for couple years. So basically he has no long term plan for any club just yet, which is, you know, understandable for a young manager. I hope that’ll change if ever he comes to United. And by that time, I think he’ll qualify as a Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor bacause he’s not a “young manager” anymore ;)

  2. United says:

    Didn’t read the entire blog

    Errr, my bad :D Good stand!

  3. Moscow is my heaven says:

    Leaderless (STR is warming to Mourinho), the anti-Mourinho brigade begins to crumble!

    TSO IS TRIUMPHANT ONCE AGAIN :D

  4. crowley24 says:

    good argument scott and ive always thought ur arguments against mourinho were good even though i didnt always agree but ur point about him taking over already good squads and then saying we should look at pep is contradictory. Pep talk over a team with 4 of the best players in the world and then proceded to sell one (eto’o) in one of the worst transfer deals by any club in history. granted hes introduced pedro and busqets but these players are so good anyone who was in charge would have introduced them.

  5. parjo says:

    I don’t like him either, and I don’t want him to manage United, but correct me if I’m wrong, Chelsea’s unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in the league while he managed Chelsea, that’s for me also one point to ponder.

  6. xol says:

    No need to apologise. The fucker looks like a pissed tramp on that picture there. Keep on keepin’ on Fergie.

  7. SteRDLK says:

    If I had been in a coma for the past 10 years, I would think this was a done deal buy reading this…

  8. SmartAlex says:

    Lets agree, Sir Alex continues until the next Scottish winners of European Silverware.

  9. RedScot says:

    @Smart Alex, are you trying to be a funny bastard, Dundee united will win the Europa cup next season. you heard it here along with Mourhino, will never grace the Old trafford halls.
    The only place you will see him is at Wastelands when the shakey Sheik Monhoor signs him up for £ 1 million squids per week.
    its all desperation.
    Nite reds Believe.
    Just fucking Believe.

  10. Red Devil says:

    @Scott

    A very good article……
    In fact I’ve been banging on about some of the points you said myself for the last few weeks on the forums…Am a recent convert to Mourinho as well……

    Another point you make about Youth policies of Jose…….
    1) Youth policy depends on the time you have available to win success —– At Chelsea and Inter, he was brought in to get instant success, Now if you have been given that kind of mandate by the chairman of your club, you dont have the time to rely on youth do you??

    2) the clubs he’s been to have no culture of developing youth at all….Chelsea, Inter have both relied on buying their talent all the time in history. They dont have any youth academies of note so he couldn’t bring through young players simply because he didn’t have any youth to bring through!!
    At Real, they have a good academy and he’s trying to do what he can ….

    3) Quality of football is a subjective concept —– Even Sir Alex goes pragmatic sometimes –remember the dour 0-0 against barca in the semi-finals and the 1-0 against Valencia away this year? You have to just shut up shop sometimes and get a result…….in fact its been two or three years since we’ve seen the kind of swash-buckling football of the past…

    @Willie Costas suhayl

    megan Fox it is for me……
    I just a recent pic of JJ and i dont think we wanna go down that road mates! :D

    @ King Eric

    How are you mate..? I see you’re as feisty as ever.. :) Hope you’re doing good.

  11. bestie says:

    Mourinho would do, but how long will he stay before portugal come calling? And I would like someone who bring in star players to team, he is the best for sure.

  12. bettathedevilsweknow says:

    mourinhos record speaks for itself but my concern would be if he’s in it for the long haul! would hate us to be in the same situation 2 yrs after he had joined us! The obvious choice is ‘Big Sam’ considering his Real credentials! :)

  13. Long John O'Shea says:

    Pep Guardiola should never be anywhere near our club, not after managing the biggest scumbag of a club out there. Mourinho I have said it before and I’ll say it again is the only man who can step into SAF boots with confidance and not be afraid of being in the great mans shadow. But best I think would be to clone SAF

  14. GTull says:

    Personally, I think it’ll all come down to timing.

    If and when SAF retires, whether that be the end of next season, or the season after, who knows?? If Maureen is still happy and adored at Madrid then i’m not sure he’d leave.

    Having said that, being happy and adored as a manager at Madrid is near impossible. Like EVERY manager before him at the virus, he’ll fall out with the club at some stage and when that happens, even a European cup won’t save him from the axe.

    If that scenario conveniently ties in with SAF’s retirement then he’ll easily be the favourite for the job.

    Of course, no doubt when that happens, Citeh will have just sacked Louis Van Gaal, who followed Frank Rijkaard, who followed Guus Hiddink, who followed Fabio Capello, who followed Pep Guardiola………..etc so will no doubt slap a bumper deal on the table for him…

  15. Costas says:

    @Red Devil

    Agreed mate. JJ has been ruined for a while now, lol.

  16. Unitedfanatic says:

    @StatesideAussie

    By respectable, I certainly don’t mean the ABU media. And not the opposition fans, either. Its just the general perception I’m referring to.
    Like the stink that emanates from Chelsea right now. Doesn’t matter if they play attractive football. Most of their players are cunts. Everyone openly makes fun of them. The media, opposition fans have always been against us because of our rich trophy haul, but deep down many would admit respect for the club and the manager.
    Its a very shaky debate, and I’m not saying I’m 100% against Mourinho. It only seems more likely that he is the one to replace SAF. But I’m very sceptical about him because I think we can yet find a better person instead of Mourinho.

    It would be too good to be true to see him change his attitude, and continue playing attacking football with Real. I would be happy to witness that.
    But one thing I assure you. He is at a treasury with the power to buy anyone, anytime. Can we assure that if the Glazer regime crumbles and our debts increase? That situation would demand what SAF is currently doing, getting unknown but great potential lads like Chico, Bebe, etc.

    Something Mourinho has repeatedly demonstrated that he has a special talent of, eh? He is just buying regular known names all the time.

    The catch here is, it may not be totally up to him, and SAF will most likely be present as an advisor or something.
    Although it may not be a complete disaster if Mourinho arrived at United, I would definitely prefer someone better.
    Or we can get him while we wait for the likes of Blanc, Moyes, etc. to get more experience. But then again, its just my opinion.

  17. Rooney > England says:

    @Unitedfanatic

    When Mourinho was at Porto he didnt have any ‘superstars’ or didnt buy ‘superstars’. Got the best out of players like Deco, Costinha etc. Even at Inter he made smart buys like Sneijder and Lucio. He is doing the same at Real Madrid. SAF did the same too with the likes of Cantona. The Glazers have always insisted that we have the funds and SAF has said the same so i see no reason to worry. As it is we are going to have to spend some money next summer.

    He likes to create the ‘siege’ mentality like SAF does which ends up in firing the players even more. Not many fans like him but just like SAF know deep down inside that he is a top manager. SAF is ‘respected’ by everyone but is ‘disliked’ by almost all journos and fans. Not that we care

  18. redpete says:

    Good post Scott, though i have to disagree on one point… I hate Mourinho, I Hate Inter and Chelsea, but… there’s all the difference in the world between finishing 2nd in the portuguese league and winning everything that has to be won… i agree when you say that he found a solid base in Chelsea and Inter, but that Porto squad was a real miracle… they played GREAT football (it wasn’t dire, goodness me!), see for example the match in which they tore Lazio apart in the uefa cup during Jose’s first season in charge (and Lazio weren’t that bad at that time, let me assure you!) and won EVERYTHING in the space of 2 years! … he’s an enemy, agreed… but i give him the credit he deserves…
    agree 100% on the rest of the post… especially that he’s egoism made flesh

  19. MyCowIsTheBest says:

    Actually i think i am also starting to accept Mourinho. And i think it’s just sooner or later he will come here. Because he wants to be here. Nobody else publicly claims the seat like Mourinho does, so you can think of the other managers who want to come here but dont dare to admit it publicly as not having the stomach for the job.

  20. King Eric says:

    Red Devil Yeah fine thanks mate , you?

    I am getting a bit sick of comments like “the anti Mourinho mob have lost their leader” Err those that dont want the cunt are well capable of thinking for themselves and having their own opinions and not just following Scott!

  21. willierednut says:

    I’m getting sick of people coming up with excuses about Mourinho, not being the right man for United.

  22. willierednut says:

    Just to add, that wasn’t a dig at anyone, just a bit of banter, lighten up KE.

  23. Red Devil says:

    King Eric

    I’m good mate…gods grace….Although I’ll feel a lot better if we thrash spurs at OT…
    You know a real ‘United’ level performance against a good champions league team just to jee up the lads and the fans after the poor start to the season..

  24. paul t says:

    What makes you think he wants to go to OT? He is currently at a club who took your best player with ease and I doubt they will let him leave when he starts bringing in the silverware. And don’t forget that the Glazers will milk you lot for years while City become the biggest club in the world (I’m a Blackburn fan before you start). Do you think he really wants to work with Bebe, Smalling and countless other no-names? Typical sheer arrogance from Manchester United fans thinking Jose will come running. He is now much, much bigger than Manchester United and has just started his Real Madrid dynasty.

  25. willierednut says:

    Paul t – Wow, you managed to talk a lot of shite in that small paragraph.

  26. invertedquestionmark says:

    We ought to wait and see how he does in Real. Seems to be alright for now but the season is long. Their fixtures thus far haven’t been that though and they’re top of the table mostly because of Barcelona’s failures.

  27. Snakehips says:

    great site this is.I think when saf does eventually step down dread the day that happens the manager who succeeds SAF wil have to have a big personality and mourinho certainly has that and his cv also shows hes a winner.the points mentioned above in terms of how he sets his teams up is valid he is a defensive minded coach and manchester united philosphy of play as always been to attack also from the days of Sir Matt united put alot of emphasis on bring youth thour which again mentioned in the above mourinho isnt known to do. but he does seem to get great camardrie within his teams where they really want to play for him. i personally would like to see him succed SAF and time will tell with mourinho himself can change is philosphy of play i mean look at the guys record at home in the domestic leagues hes managed i think it something like 180 odd games unbeaten but if sir bobby is against it mmmm wasnt sir booby charlton instrumental in getting SAF here

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