The Mourinho question

April 30, 2011 Tags: , Opinion 29 comments

After Manchester United departed the Veltins Arena on Tuesday night with two away goals it left supporters declaring the Red Devils all but in the final. With United expected to fly the flag for England on home turf at Wembley on 28 May, the only question was: who will join Sir Alex Ferguson’s side? Only one of the Spanish giants could make it. Enter José Mourinho.

Real  Madrid welcomed Barcelona to the Bernabeu for the other semi-final, with Mourinho looking to outwit Pep Guardiola for the second time in a week.  Mourinho’s desire to succeed Ferguson at United has not gone unnoticed in the press. The Portuguese professes his love for English football and Sir Alex has even made reference to the idea of Mourinho taking his position when it becomes available.

But if Mourinho is playing the waiting game, and using Madrid as a stepping stone, then he could be in for a long wait if the semi-final is used in evidence. With three red cards, only one actually handed to a player, and plenty of controversy, Barcelona midfielder Xavi was moved to describe the result as a “win for football”.  It has promised so much, with some of the greatest players in the world present, but delivered so little in terms of actual football.

The game ended with Barcelona taking the same advantage back to Camp Nou for the second leg that United achieved the night before. Yet, in the Spanish capital Mourinho’s side was instructed to stop Barcelona playing, with defender Pepe pushed into midfield. After all, it had worked in the Copa Del Rey final a week previously, which Madrid won 1-0 thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s header deep into extra time.

However, in the European game Pepe was harshly sent off for a late tackle on Dani Alves, who along with Sergio Busquests and Pedro, was one of the great’ play actors’ on the night. The dismissal proved to be a massive turning point in the game but in the end beautiful football prevailed as Lionel Messi went on to score a fantastic brace.

The tense and aggressive atmosphere at the Bernabeu spilt over into half time as Barcelona’s substitute goalkeeper was sent off after sharing his thoughts with Alvaro Arbeloa and Madrid’s staff on the bullish tactics employed.

However, the real pantomime villain of the night was Mourinho, who was sent to the stands for sarcastically applauding the referee over Pepe’s red card. But the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ also angered many Madrid supporters with what can only be described as anti-football tactics. The sole purpose of Mourinho’s set-up was to stop Barcelona from deploying the possession game to its fullest effect, and therefore negating the risk of Los Cules repeating the 5-0 hammering at Camp Nou earlier this season.

The tactical approach taken by Mourinho was a direct reaction to that loss, with the negative attitude displayed even after Madrid rested many stars the previous weekend. Madrid knocked six past third  placed Valencia at the Mestalla despite the understrength team, with Gonzalo Higuain bagging a hat-trick. Remarkably, he was still denied an opportunity against Barcelona.

Even Cristiano Ronaldo’s frustration with the negative approach was apparent. The former United player’s team-mates failed to put any pressure on Barça defence, as the visitors passed freely their own half, with Real dropping back to its territory. The sole purpose was to protect Los Merengues’ goal and then give the ball to Ronaldo on the counter. The negative approach in a fixture of such magnitude tarnished the reputation of the Spanish game to such an extent that it hardly resembled a football match.

It was always going to be a feisty affair though with Mourinho kicking off the mind games in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon.  After all, for Mourinho, the fixture begins in the press room, not on the pitch. Indeed, the use of off-the- field antics to inspire his players replicates Ferguson at United; both share an immense gift to manipulate the media and motivate their players while unsettling the opposition.

Meanwhile, Mourinho’s persona makes him as a great candidate to handle the pressure that comes with managing a club of United’s standing; a club with a similar global presence to Madrid.

However, more than the controversy it is Mourinho’s anti-football tactics that have raised questions about his ability to keep the Old Trafford faithful entertained. The Portuguese manager has a proven track record of winning trophies but it is his penchant to ‘park the bus’ in certain fixtures that raises suspicions over his capacity to replace Ferguson.

United’s foundations were beautifully outlined in the recent film ‘United’ and its accompanying documentary, ‘Sir Bobby Charlton: Football Icon’.  Charlton spoke of a conversation held with Jimmy Murphy in the 1950s where the Welsh coach described United’s support, drawn as it was from the industrial community of Trafford Park. ‘They come to Old Trafford on a Saturday expecting to be entertained,’ said Murphy. 50 years on and the club still retains these values; the belief that United is there for the supporters and it is the responsibility of the staff and players to make sure the faithful is entertained.

These ideals ensure many ask the question:  is Mourinho really suitable for Old Trafford?

Is José Mourinho right for Manchester United?

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Tim - April 30, 2011 Reply

He has produced teams that play attractive football in the past though. I think if he had a team that could go toe to toe with Barca he would have been much more expansive.

While it is true that this team he has is exceptionally expensive, quite a bit of it has been put together this year, or the year before, while the core of the Barcelona team has been playing together for years. I don’t think anyone really thinks that player for player they are on a par with Barca, and when you add in the cohesiveness, the gulf is further exposed. He tried playing expansively in the first game, and that did not go well. I dont think there is a team alive that expects good things to happen when they try to pass their way around Xavi and Iniesta. Presuming the final is us vs. Barca, does anyone really expect Fergie to go in with 2 up top, nani and valencia out wide, scholes in the hole and rafael and evra flying down the flanks like they do against mid table premiership sides? No- nani will be dropped, as he has been against the bigger premiership teams, rooney will drop deep and park will play as an extra man in midfield. Mourinho’s teams have played a lot of good football in other games this year, however the only games we’ve watched collectively as a group, are those vs barca, which, if you remember 2009 isnt really a good way to judge a team.

I think if you give Mourinho a couple of years to get the players he wants together, and get his system going, there will be more than enough goals. There is a difference between suicidal and attacking, and trying to outpass a barca team which simply has you heavily outgunned, is suicidal. Remember it was only 12 months ago where he was universally hailed as a genius for taking what is looking increasingly like an average inter team past barca…

Is he Ferguson? No, but noone is. Personally I feel he is the best of the rest available.

bman - April 30, 2011 Reply

I certainly respect Mourinho, and he would be a good choice to replace Fergie in the sense that he has the bollocks for the job and guarantees a pretty high level of achievement. But to my mind the crappy football his teams play and his “mind games” excesses are too much for me. Sure Fergie does the same kind of thing, and I think Mourinho is really good at building team spirit, but even before the game against Barca I thought that Mourinho often goes too far for my tastes. United’s manager still needs to maintain some degree of class, although I suppose it’s only fair to acknowledge that Fergie has mellowed with age. But that Chelsea side still have an undeniable wanker streak in them instilled by Mourinho, both in terms of their obnoxious term personality and proclivity for fouling, surrounding the ref etc. I’d hate to see us get that bad.

But I don’t know who else you could get that could man up to the job. Assuming we get into the CL final, it will interesting to see how Fergie sets the team out to play against Barca, and compare it to Mourinho’s tactics.

john - April 30, 2011 Reply

his the best man for the job if pepe had not been send off i really dont think messi would have been given the space to score those two goals.
i think the team let jose downn they have so much talent but not enough leaders wen i watched rthe game no one could keep the ball no one could dictate the game for them it was get the ball back and loose it again because they couldnt control the game when he was at inter snijder was controlling the games tempo and thats why they won.

eddieTheRed - April 30, 2011 Reply

Cristiano Ronaldo explained after the match that Madrid’s strategy had been to wear down Barca for 70 minutes and then bring on attack – minded substitutes to try and nick a win at the end. It’s a strategy that has worked well for everyone from George Graham’s Arsenal side of the early ’90s to the great Munster rugby side of recent years; to call it “anti – football” is to fall into the trap of merely repeating Barcelona’s own propaganda!

If Wednesdays disgraceful scene has taught us anything it’s that neither Barcelona nor Madrid are a suitable model for United to follow. While Barca have many good qualities their propensity for diving, feigning injury, harassing referees and using performance enhancing drugs to aid recovery is obscene. (all that referee – baiting is down to ‘roid – rages; it’s got nothing to do with passion for the game).

If Mourinho’s comments after the game about unfair referees, cheating, etc.. are enough to rule him out of a future job at Old Trafford then I suggest that SAF be fired too, because the things that Mourinho said are no different to what SAF said after our defeat away to Chelsea in the league; he told it how it is and he stuck up for his club.

United fans should not get carried away with all the media hype that surrounds this individual and we definitely should not fall into the trap of repeating media hype in a parrot fashion and try to dress it up as debate!

Alfonso Bedoya - May 1, 2011 Reply

I agree with most of that, but I don’t like the drugs allegations… as far as I’m aware, they’ve not been proved to have broken any doping rules, and until they are, that’s an ugly insinuation to make.

baggio365 - May 1, 2011 Reply

agree with alf re the drugs jibe

that game was a showpiece for everything that is wrong with football. one team assembled with obscene amounts of money, both sides paying players with money they dont have. players diving, cheating, fouling; anything to get the slightest advantage. and both bosses losing their heads in front of the media. to top it off, the football was ugly, and but for messi’s second goal, would have been a complete waste of everyone’s time. i dont think anybody can have come out of that game with their head held high.

so to use it as an example why mourinho shouldnt be our next coach isnt fair. he’s a cunt of a man. but guess what, the rest of the world probably thinks the same of fergie. but as long as he’s our cunt, it doesnt matter. mourinho only ever wants whats best for himself, hence by extension his team. he creates an amazing team spirit wherever he goes. and him playing anti-football is exaggerated. porto, chelski, inter and real all play good football at times. it just in the big games that he sets his side out not to lose. all the top bosses do it, even fergie. its just that mourinho does it more effectively than anyone else.

to me he’s the only manager that can replace fergie. no one else has the balls to do the job. and he wants to come. fergie wants him to take over. its perfect. i’m happy to live with the odd game of anti-football, if we play good attacking football the rest of the time (which his madrid side have been doing)

captainhormone - May 1, 2011 Reply

fergie has said things, fergie has played stalling tactics

both are the top 2 managers in world football currently, and have/will always win things

close the thread please

Spudiator - May 1, 2011 Reply

Football is a love-hate relationship at the best of times, and if there is one thing that could swing it towards hate, it’s the prospect of Mourinho succeeding Fergie. To compare Mourinho’s pre-match winding-up to the kind of mind games Fergie partakes in is nothing short of insulting to Sir Alex, he may have resorted to a bit of kiddology at times over the years, no doubt about that, but he’s never started making claims of conspiracies, accused rival teams of receiving bias from officials or undermined refs before games have even started. The ugly scenes of that Champions League semi-final, with the ref being hounded for every minor decision was a direct result of Mourinho’s gameplan in his pre-match press conference, deliberately putting the ref under pressure from the off and encouraging both his own players and the Barcelona players (by virtue of his conspiracy accusations) to act that way. I don’t want to see that kind of disruptive, deliberately controversial influence at this great club.

The other thing to consider is his probable legacy. I’ve seen nothing in his time at Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid to convince me that he would be interested in building a long-term legacy at United the way Fergie, and Sir Matt before him, did. United has always had a tradition of nurturing young talent rather than just buying mercenaries and building for the short-term, even though the influx of youth has waned somewhat in recent years, presumably because of the intense pressure for success making it more difficult to take chances on untried youngsters, every great United team has always had a strong core of home-grown players who have grown up with the club, and I honestly couldn’t see that tradition continuing under Mourinho.

As for John’s comments that “i think the team let jose down”, that’s a load of bollocks, the team were just following his exact instructions.

Bill - May 1, 2011 Reply

Jose has been option A for a while, but the kind of antics post match don’t help his case to become SAFs replacement. Having said that SAF has a fair share of meltdowns (press ban, fa bans etc).

Option B could be Moyes with SAF as director of football. They seem to on well, and I’m not sure whether SAF could completely leave the game once he’s done being manager.

Spudiator - May 1, 2011 Reply

Fergie as director of football would be the worst thing United could do, as I understand it, that was pretty much the situation when Sir Matt Busby stood down as manager, and all it did was add pressure on his successor (Wilf McGuinness). Any manager succeeding Sir Alex will have a daunting task as it is, following in the footsteps of the most successful manager in the history of the British game, without having him overlooking their efforts to add further pressure.

Bill - May 1, 2011 Reply

What was the relationship between McGuiness and Busby prior to the appointment? If they couldn’t get on it would have been a problem.

Perhaps this option his already been discussed and they don’t want history to repeat itself, so therefore it won’t happen.

I suppose if they appointed Moyes then SAF could at least be available as a mentor. Who else would be seriously considered apart from those two?

In all fairness whoever takes over will have the spectre of Fergie over them, whether he is in the stands physically or not.

Spudiator - May 1, 2011 Reply

That’s what I was saying, the pressure will already be intense because of they legacy they’ll have to live up to, so there’s no sense in making it worse by having Fergie standing over whoever takes up the role. I doubt it’d happen anyway, I reckon Fergie will just carry on as long as he can, and then walk away from the club completely. I reckon he’d hate to work having someone overlooking his work and interfering, so I doubt he’d be willing to inflict that on anyone else.

eddieTheRed - May 1, 2011 Reply

In answer to some of the comments about doping I suggest that you go to Google, type in “liver cancer causes” and read what comes out; Eric Abidal’s cancerous liver tumour is the smoking gun in the Barca doping story!

Alfonso Bedoya - May 1, 2011 Reply

How the fuck do you reckon that?

“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

Brown - May 1, 2011 Reply

Jose is a remarkable coach. I actually dont see what he has done wrong that SAF has not done before. I know he isnt known for his attacking brand of football but i have seen some improvements in his football in Madrid in comparism with his chelski and porto days. Lately his criticisms have come mostly in Barca matches asides that he has been doing well against other spanish opposition. Lets be realistic, how many teams go against barca with the intent to attack, without being battered.
Please give the man a break.

Ted - May 1, 2011 Reply

Its key to get someone with Prem and Euro experience, and there’s not many of them around. Jose made Chelsea a very difficult team to beat, and some of the stuff they played was good. He then went to a struggling Inter and won the treble, beating the champions of england spain italy and germany on the way. That is nothing short of astounding. He may not be evryones cup ‘o’ tea, but he is’nt fuckin stupid. He knew, as most of us did, that Madrid could not beat Barca in open play over two legs. It would have to be a really poor Barca performance or an awful Barca clanger to hand it to Madrid. It was a rock and a hard place for Jose. Unfortunately for him, he’d gone to Madrid when Barca were starting to be the magical team they are. Madrid even with Jose in charge are no match for Barca. Just like us.

Ed - May 1, 2011 Reply

Blog Commenter said:
In answer to some of the comments about doping I suggest that you go to Google, type in “liver cancer causes” and read what comes out; Eric Abidal’s cancerous liver tumour is the smoking gun in the Barca doping story!

Eddie – that’s kind of ridiculous and a huge leap.

eddieTheRed - May 2, 2011 Reply

According to the best sources on the internet there are 3 main causes of cancerous liver tumours;

1.)Contraction of hepatitis B in early life leading to development of cancerous liver tumour in later life, common in Asia but usually due to poor medical care.

2.)Cirrhosis of the liver due to chronic alcoholism.

3.)Use of hormones, anabolic steroids and other similar drugs.

There are a number of other less likely causes but these are mostly associated with poor access to medical care in poor countries.

In addition, Barcelona players are linked with a medical doctor by the name of Eufemiano Fuentes (incidentally also linked to the tennis player Rafa Nadal). Fuentes was arrested by the Guardia Civil in 2006 in respect of Operation Puerto, an investigation into doping in the sport of cycling. In 2010 Fuentes was arrested again as part of the ongoing Operation Galgo and this time police found large quantities of anabolic steroids, hormones and EPO. In December 2010, he is quoted as saying: “If I would talk, the Spanish football team would be stripped of the 2010 World Cup”.

Naturally people will ask why Barca haven’t failed any drug tests before now. For years athletes who take steroids have been able to access a number of methods of blocking the presence of steroids in a test including blocking drugs, urine replacement, diuretics and blood transfusions. I once trained with a European amateur bodybuilding champion who was on 4 different types of steroids and who used a blocking drug to mask the presence of the drugs in his urine.

I realise that despite the evidence, none of this is proof positive, but you have to admit there is a large and growing body of evidence which suggests Barca are involved in doping to enhance performance. It pains me to think that on May 28th my favourite football team might take the field against a team that is so obsessed with winning, they might be willing to resort to the lowest of methods to beat United.

Some sources;

Ed - May 3, 2011 Reply

eddieTheRed – genetics, carcinogens in diet, sheer bad luck. There isn’t *any* evidence that Barcelona is systematically doping, nor that Abidal did either. It’s important we point that out.

eddieTheRed - June 16, 2011 Reply

We’ll see about that when the case comes to court; unless the Guardia Civil are prevented from taking it to court; I suggest you sell United Rant to a United fan and start up a new site called Barca Rant; no shortage of inspiration for you there!

vlad - May 3, 2011 Reply

Cause #2 more likely.
Chronic alcoholism as likely as it gets.

eddieTheRed - June 16, 2011 Reply

Present your arse for spanking Ivan!

eddieTheRed - May 2, 2011 Reply

I tried to post a list of my sources so you could all read up on the subject and form your own opinion but the site’s software won’t accept an upload composed of links to other sites.

Alfonso Bedoya - May 2, 2011 Reply

Eddie… I think you’re missing the point.

“IF” Barcelona are indeed guilty of drugs offences… there are plenty of people with a vested interest, to see that they are brought up for it… people a lot closer to the situation, and that know a lot more about it than you or I… and if they can’t get enough evidence to file charges, then there is no case to be answered for… at least not yet… and until then, it’s just slander…

baggio365 - May 3, 2011 Reply

eddie there are a couple of major flaws in your argument. people use steroids to increase their athletic prowess. maybe i’m blind, but the last time i checked the barca team was not made up of 6ft man mountains who were all quicker than usain bolt.

the team is praised for their technical ability. thats not exactly something steroids will help you with.

secondly if all of spain knew about it, do you really think mourinho wouldnt have mentioned that by now. or are his players using drugs too. and if both real and barca players are using drugs, why doesnt the rest of the league say something. after all they are dirt poor (real and barca take all the TV money), they are playing in a 2-team competition and it would be in their best interest to see real and barca kicked out.

eddieTheRed - June 16, 2011 Reply

Yes you are blind; Barca’s major advantage is their ability to close down opponents with the same apparent physicality and speed in the first minute of the game to the last minute without a drop in tempo.

Their apparent fitness is at the same level in the beginning of September as it is at the middle of May when the Spanish season ends without any lull in between; without their apparent ability to close down the opposition they are not nearly as good; Barca never seem seem to suffer a period of “tiredness” the way normal football teams do!

As for their miraculous resurection in fitness terms whenever they play United, the words Catheter and Blood Transfusion come to mind.

As for the accusations, Barca have been accused many times by Spanish media sources of doping their players, not least by Cadena Cope, a major Spanish radio station, threatened many times by Barca with no action taken.

If Barca have a problem with my accusations they are welcome to sue me for defamation; I would be quite happy to meet them in an Irish court and expose them for the cheating scum that they are; but I don’t think we shall hearing from them anytime soon!

squigels - May 3, 2011 Reply

All correct Baggio. All teams take a degree of supplements to a degree. Creatine is very much legal but it’s effect especially on younger players is every bit as radical as illegal steroids.

Linking someone’s serious illness (Abidal) to drug taking is very poor as well.

eddieTheRed - June 16, 2011 Reply

Point about creatine is acknowledged but if you actually research the probability of cancerous liver tumours in profesional footballers you’ll realise how rare and improbable Eric Abidal’s cancerous tumour is!

RedAlert260599 - May 3, 2011 Reply

Ottmar Hitzfield’s comments about Maureen says it all….

“Such a way of playing does not relate to the demands of Real, it’s really shameful for Real Madrid. It harms the good name and image of this legendary club. I’ve met him [Mourinho] at Uefa meetings and his behaviour is faithful to his image: arrogant, haughty, chewing gum and somewhat of a boor. Barça should make him pay on the pitch.”

Do we really want this man at our club? Not a chance!

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