Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Mourinho could manage Manchester United’s expectations

Nigel Adkins was relieved of his managerial duties last week following a noteworthy tenure.

Southampton had just completed back-to-back promotions and at the first time of asking, have given themselves a real chance of staying up as they reached the midway point of the Premier League.

Give this option to any Southampton supporter two seasons ago and they would have snapped your hand off.

He didn’t need years to lay foundations and build from the ground up.

He didn’t have substantial backing.

He didn’t even have much time.

Yet Nigel could not have achieved much more.

Not so long ago, Tottenham Hotspur were struggling in the relegation zone when they moved for Harry Redknapp.

In four seasons at the club, Harry finished 4th, 5th, 4th and even managed to take the club to the quarter finals of the Champions League.

No lengthy regime.

No extensive rebuilding project.

No complaint from Spurs fans.

As for David Moyes, he is highly regarded for his achievements at Everton.

Ten seasons of stability is all he has really achieved though.

Despite being in the Premier League for his entire reign, selling numerous players for vast sums, David has never won a major honour for them.

This during a period where clubs like Blackburn, Portsmouth, Birmingham and even Middlesborough have won silverware of some sort.

All of whom have had various candidates at their helm.

Then there’s Jose Mourinho.

It’s been nine seasons since Roman Abramovich took over at Chelsea.

In that time, Roman has hired or fired nine different managers.

His first appointment was Jose.

While his treatment of a selection of these managers, namely the special one, has sparked vociferous debate in the stands - his methods have proved massively successful.

Chelsea hadn’t won the league in fifty years.

The only time they’d won it.

Three times they’ve won it under Roman now.

Last season they went one better.

Adding their first ever Champions League to the trophy cabinet.

In fact, they’ve qualified for the tournament every season Roman has overseen proceedings.

Coupled with four FA cups, two league cups and on numerous occasions reached the final four of Europe’s elite competition.

Jose was responsible for five of those major honours.

Not a bad period at all.

And no comparison with their former rivals Arsenal - the epitome of stability in the modern era.

Arsene Wenger has governed every single aspect of Arsenal football club for sixteen straight seasons now.

He has full control in decisions made yet hasn’t managed a major honour in his previous eight campaigns.

No contest when it comes to finance.

And no contest when it comes to success.

The idea that a manager must embody longevity is a distinctly British one - throughout the major European leagues anyway.

Since Sir Alex took over at Old Trafford, Bayern Munich have had twenty managers.

Ajax Amsterdam eighteen.

FC Porto the same.

All clubs dominating their domestic leagues as well as conquering Europe throughout this period.

A similar picture in Italy too.

Juventus fourteen.

AC Milan sixteen.

Internazionale as much as twenty seven.

All hugely successful in Serie ‘A’.

All winners of the Champions League during Fergie time.

Then comes the biggest club of all.

Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho’s home right now.

The Spanish giants have had twenty five managers since Sir Alex took up his reigns.

Won eleven La Liga titles.

Three Champions Leagues.

Plus numerous World Club Cups, European Super Cups and Copa Del Reys.

Never one to have a problem with moving on a manager at seasons end - no matter how successful.

Fabio Capello won the league yet didn’t do it stylishly enough.

Jupp Heynckes won the Champions League in his only season in charge.

Vicente Del Bosque won two and it still wasn’t enough for him to retain his job.

Yet despite all this, Real Madrid remain the most successful club in the world.

Even more remarkable is that by the end of this season, Jose should be their third longest serving manager in their one hundred and ten year history.

He has had two and a half campaigns so far.

Brought in to end Josep Guardiola’s Barcelona dominance - labelled the greatest club side of all time.

It took Jose just one season before he started to overturn the Catalan giants.

No better manager in the world to undertake such a massive challenge.

And it will be a similar challenge that faces the next Manchester United manager - taking over from a man who has been in charge for almost thirty years.

How to find the next Alex Ferguson is the question people keep asking.

Not a job that Jose seems made for.

But what they should really be asking - is who will manage Manchester United next?

And expect Jose to be able to manage that...

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Daniel Sturridge is the New Andy Carroll

Daniel Sturridge opened his Premier League account for Liverpool on Sunday.

He did so by scoring against their biggest rivals.

Which means he’s now scored as many league goals for Liverpool this season as Andy Carroll has for West Ham United.

It was his league debut.

Liverpool dipped into the January transfer window to sign Daniel last week.

Two years on from signing Andy Carroll at the same stage.

Both attackers.

Both unproven.

Both moving for big money.

The main difference being that Daniel cost almost three times less.

When Andy had signed for Liverpool, he was relatively unproven.

Despite it being his fourth season in the first team, he had only managed eleven goals in the top flight.

He had yet to play for England.

As Daniel signs for Liverpool this week, he too is relatively unproven.

After unsuccessful spells at Manchester City and Chelsea, he comes with nothing more than promise.

It’s only on loan at Bolton that he managed nine goals to bring his top flight tally to sixteen.

Four caps for England.

But both players had potential.

It was never a problem for Liverpool fans that Kenny had bought potential when he signed Andy in 2011.

It was just the thirty five million pound price tag.

The egregious figure that must still haunt every Liverpool supporter the world over.

The corridors of Anfield still reverberating with questions as to why Kenny was supported with a war chest that size when the permanently appointed Roy Hodgson wasn’t.

How Brendan Rodgers could do with that money now as he rebuilds their great and famous club.

A club too great and famous for Andy.

Whereas Daniel didn’t come from a small club like Newcastle who were spending time in the Championship.

He came from the European Champions.

And should thrive with the less pressure on him at Anfield.

He struggled to cope with the responsibilities of playing in a side with aspirations of winning the league and conquering Europe every season.

He knows Liverpool are at least a few years away from that now.

And will hopefully have matured into the side by the time it comes around again.

Andy went from a small club with a big fan base who had just spent time in the Championship.

The step up to a much bigger club under Kenny proved too much for the man who had never experienced that before.

He was used to being the main man at a small club where everything was focused around his strengths.

Liverpool had enough good players to not have to rely on this one dimension.

Daniel will have played with much better players.

The step down will only serve to make it easier.

This all makes him the new Andy Carroll.

The answer to Liverpool’s attacking problems.

The main difference of course, being the price tag.

Andy came as a thirty five million pound player.

That came with all the pressures of being the eight most expensive player of all time.

More expensive than Rooney, Van Persie, even Luis Suarez.

12 million pound more than Luis in fact.

The pressure was too much.

They are both attackers.

Both unproven at Premier league level.

Both signed for their potential.

But luckily for Daniel, both not costing the same...