Man Utd: Only Time Will Tell If Choosing Moyes Over Jose Was Right

Moyes v Mourinho. It has a certain ring to it. Alliteration will do that. Still, the first letter of their names is pretty much where the two men's similarities end...
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Much has been written about both, this season, and Manchester United fans are growing tired of reading about the former, such has been the run of appalling form he has overseen since his arrival last summer, as our beloved football club, so dominant for so long, has suddenly appeared alarmingly vulnerable.

Thus, I shall examine the man who most of the footballing world expected to step into Sir Alex Ferguson's shoes, when he retired, with the nonchalant air of a man sliding on a pair of slippers in the safety and comfort of his own home.

Jose Mourinho. An undeniably remarkable man. A born winner who possesses the kind of magnetism and charisma of which the vast majority of us can only dream. He always seemed the obvious choice for Ferguson to pass the baton to when he finally announced his retirement from the game.

Here was a man who had won it all; a man who Fergie himself, after his first humbling encounter with him, when United lost to Porto over two legs and found themselves unceremoniously eliminated from a Champions League last-sixteen tie they had expected to win at a canter, had recognised as possessing the very qualities that had set his own younger, cockier self apart from the rest.

Arrogant, defiant and hell-bent on achieving his goals by any means necessary, no matter what the consequences or how many casualties he left flailing in his wake, Mourinho clearly possessed the devastating drive necessary to succeed in the grimly cut-throat business of elite football management.

It was Mourinho who, albeit with the stupendous wealth of Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, at his disposal, didn't just disturb the United/Arsenal dominance of the Premier League but, having gone about improving the already solid squad bequeathed to him by Claudio Ranieri with the speed and decisiveness of a mafia Don waging a bloody and brutal war on those that threatened his authority, swatted Arsenal aside into an eight year trophyless purgatory, and left United trailing in his wake for two years as he went about making the Premier League trophy his own.


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Manchester United fans have a peculiar relationship with Mourinho, simultaneously ridiculing him for his self-proclaimed status as the 'Special One,' despising him for the brand of 'anti-football' his teams have sometimes played over the years, yet begrudgingly respecting him because it is impossible and pathetic not to, given the obscene success he has enjoyed since bursting onto the scene, with the irrepressible force of a storm at sea, on that knee-sliding, trouser-soiling night at Old Trafford, when he raced down the touchline with the exuberant abandon of someone who was starting out on the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. Which indeed he was.

Hence, when Sir Alex announced that he was calling time on his career, it was only natural for our minds to be cast back to another of Mourinho's famous performances, a few months before, when he had once again, this time with Real Madrid, broken Old Trafford hearts. He became the football-manager equivalent of Dickens' Uriah Heep that night, all hand-wringing humility and sycophantic seduction, as he auditioned for the role he seemed destined to play.

Now, with Moyes' United looking a shadow of the team that won the title last season, people are inevitably questioning once more why Moyes, and not Mourinho, became the 'Chosen One.'

The reason most often suggested is that Mourinho didn't 'suit' United, an argument as vague as a vampire's reflection. More likely is that United didn't suit Mourinho, or rather that United's owners, and their minions, didn't.

For here is a man that has worked for just about every type of megalomaniac, despot and lunatic that the world of football club ownership can throw at a manager, and who has, because of his relentless ability to succeed, had the audacity and self assurance to stand up to them with the fearlessness of a great gladiator.

Now, that's all very well when his employers can assuage his discontent with coffers as deep as their fuses are short, but imagine the Glazers' embarrassment when Mourinho blazed into Old Trafford only to find that the cupboard was well and truly bare. He's not the sort to simply accept such a discovery with a shrug of his shoulders and a chorus of 'Que Sera, Sera.' On the contrary, he would kick up an almighty stink and complain vehemently at every turn.

Sir Alex, the wily old fox that he his, would
have been only too aware of this from the start. No doubt it was jolly good sport stringing the young upstart along, but the reality of having the Portugese succeeding him was simply too brimming with foreseeable flash points, the potential for discord too great.

David Moyes offered different traits altogether, far more acceptable to the powers that be. He is as honest as the day is long, a thoroughly decent chap, unlikely to kick up a fuss about anything, having just landed the job of his dreams. And, no doubt, there is great potential there too, if he can just lose the rabbit-in-the-headlights act sooner rather than later. Most of all though, there is the admirable frugality he displayed during his eleven years at Everton, where diligence, conscientiousness and damned hard graft made up for the clubs blighted bank balance.

Jose Mourinho is the man who brought Roman Abramovich to his knees, begging and beseeching him to give Chelsea a second chance. This, along with the man's ridiculous rate of success at every club he's ever managed, seemed to most of the world as good a reference as any for the biggest job in world football. Only time will tell whether choosing Moyes over Mourinho will pay off in the end.