Football: Jose Mourinho won't change - Manchester United will have to do things his way

Jose Mourinho. Photo / Getty Images
Jose Mourinho. Photo / Getty Images

Jose Mourinho has, by all accounts, been trying to leave his house this week to get a haircut but every time he does so, the encampment of cameramen and photographers on his doorstep stand to attention and one of the richest football managers in the world, has to rethink his plans.

A few streets away on Wednesday at a hotel in west London, Ed Woodward, the Manchester United executive vice-chairman, met Jorge Mendes to retrieve the last of Mourinho's intellectual property rights so heavily exploited by Chelsea's commercial department. There was a time when a manager left with the contents of his desk in a cardboard box, but the era of the super-coach now requires legal agreement over the legitimacy or otherwise of the stock in the club shop.

Even after leaving Chelsea, twice, and Real Madrid and Inter Milan and those other places that have staged the Mourinho show, nothing quite compares for his Old Trafford coronation, as this week's frenzy has shown.

At Chelsea and Madrid, the coach is no more than consultant, a man who goes in to try to solve the problems for as long as he can until politics or personalities or results overwhelm him.

United are different, still made in the image of one man, Sir Alex Ferguson, who, for all that was lost over the last three years, remains ubiquitous in the way United perceive themselves. Ferguson is United, for now at least, and it is his legacy that eventually obliterated David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal. That is what any new United manager is up against, and the challenge for Mourinho is to make United fans feel as good about their team and its place in the world, as Ferguson once did.

As for the suits, the fusing of two of English football's most distinctive franchises is just the next slide in the marketing man's presentation for future growth. These days even Batman and Superman share the same movie, so why not Mourinho and United?

If that notion makes you queasy then, in Mourinho's defence, and for all the wealth he has accumulated, he has always been about the football first.

Of course, he knows his value down to the last euro, and you may not like the football his teams play, but his addiction to strategy, to the squeezing of the last competitive advantage; his hypersensitivity to any perception of unfairness - they are all genuine. He knows it is a show in which he is a very well-paid participant, but he did not spend a 20-year apprenticeship as a gofer for the late Bobby Robson and others because he wanted to be famous. He did so because he wanted to be a great football manager.

Mourinho will not change. Those who know the man as he prepares to take on United in their fourth post-Ferguson season say that Mourinho's principles are inviolate. He will play the Mourinho way, to win football matches, utilising as best he can the resources at his disposal. There will be no deference to any nebulous concept of how United should play, or did play under Ferguson, nor any acceptance that there is a way he should win. Just that he should win.

The kind of players whom Mourinho likes - wingers who track back, midfielders who defend, goalscorers who pressurise opposition defences - has not changed since he failed to restart a stalled Chelsea team before Christmas. The more those principles are challenged, the more he regards them as sacrosanct. He sees no reason to change, no more than anyone at Manchester City would expect Pep Guardiola to retreat an inch from his possession-based game.

In short, in the seven months Mourinho spent wandering around Sloane Square with a sweater draped over his shoulders, or gazing half-interested from VIP areas on big fight nights, there has been no conversion.

Mourinho has reviewed the Mourinho approach and found it to be sound of principle. The young players at United will play if Mourinho sees fit, but as at Chelsea there will be no special dispensation. Developing academy talent is a question that is guaranteed to come up early in Mourinho's introduction as United manager and he will doubtless say what he always does: examine my record. At Porto he picked the 19-year-old Brazilian Carlos Alberto, who scored in the 2004 Champions League final; at Real Madrid he gave out 18 academy debuts.

His backroom staff is unchanged and will include such veterans as Rui Faria, head of angry confrontations, and Silvino Louro, the more diplomatic goalkeepers coach, as well as the fitness coach Carlos Lalin. There might be a United face from the past thrown in to season the soup if the right person can be found, but that will not affect strategy.

Six months out of the game has not changed the way that Mourinho feels about Juan Mata whom he considered culpable in slowing down Chelsea's game when he was reappointed manager in 2013. Mourinho likes his wingers to be strong and quick, and track back as well as bomb on.

The only small difference this time will be that the Mourinho family will stay in London while dad goes north, his children now having lives and putative careers of their own. He will no doubt arrive in Manchester with a gracious tribute to those who have gone before him and due deference to the honour of the role, but do not doubt the master plan.

Mourinho would have turned down the United job had he not been able to take it upon his own terms and he will not be wasting any time standing on Sir Matt Busby Way staring up in awe at the statue of Ferguson. He is there to do things his way, which, for better or worse, is the only way he knows.

Cup final errors put Clattenburg under pressure

For those who think that Premier League referees are those most prone to put themselves centre of the piece, one can only point to Carlos del Cerro Grande who dished out three red cards in the Copa del Rey final and also stopped play to get a massage in extra-time. On this occasion the Spanish referee had a good game and his forward planning on the issue of cramps will probably see him marked up rather than down.

Mark Clattenburg picks up the baton for the Premier League's much-maligned select group of referees by taking charge of Saturday's Champions League final. Clattenburg has more than a few enemies in the establishment and after his FA Cup final errors he will know he is under pressure to do well. A strange life for these referees who, unlike the players, know that however well they perform in the rest of their careers they will never get a final like this again.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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