Sam Wallace: If your club has a problem, and no one else can help, call ... the J-Team

Talking Football: What happens when a club needs a tangible philosophy to pass on to a newgeneration

On a Californian morning in July 2007, Jose Mourinho, then Chelsea manager, held court in Beverly Hills. Have you realised, he was asked, this is the first time in your career you have started a fourth consecutive season with the same club? It stopped Mourinho in his tracks for a moment. He hadn’t. In two months he was gone.

Mourinho is back in the consciousness of English football, starting today when he will be expected to deliver one of his epochal press conferences and tomorrow when his Internazionale team take on Manchester United in the first leg of their Champions League tie. He is up against Sir Alex Ferguson, a man whom he briefly regarded as an equal over two title-winning years from 2004 to 2006 when Manchester United struggled with their own turmoil and Mourinho’s Chelsea cleaned up.

But Mourinho will not be Ferguson’s equal, even if his team eliminate United come 11 March, as his Porto side did five years ago. He will not be Ferguson’s equal if he picks up his second Champions League title in May, although that will mean he has won that competition as many times as Ferguson. The only way Mourinho can be a comparable figure with Ferguson is if he throws in his lot with a club for the long haul, instead of the butterfly existence you expect he will lead all his coaching life.

Let’s not forget that when Mourinho departed Chelsea, four days before his side were due at Old Trafford, he did so quite willingly. His team, he knew, had come to the end of its cycle. Already the word in Italy is that Mourinho quite fancies a new challenge next season, perhaps even the Premier League. Maybe, as he said himself, Chelsea. He has nothing but scorn for managers who say they need time to settle into the job. But what about managers who never stay for long?

Watching from a distance, Mourinho has been through his now familiar card already at Internazionale. He has charmed and then provoked the Italian press. He has picked on one manager and tried to bury him with scarcely concealed contempt: now it is Claudio Ranieri where once it was Arsène Wenger. Judging by the win over Milan last week his team play the same brisk style as Chelsea did, knocking the ball long to a big striker. Instead of Didier Drogba there are Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Adriano.

Talented though he is, Mourinho is in danger of becoming the coach for hire, a mercenary reliving the same plot about as many times as George Peppard and the rest did in The A-Team. Their respective approaches are not that different. At every club Mourinho retreats into a bunker where he remoulds the team into some monstrous but effective hybrid capable of crushing the opposition. If your club has a problem, if no one else can help, call Mourinho.

He thrives on the momentum of his initial impact, although if you check the records he has never taken on a lost cause. When he took charge of Porto in January 2002 they had finished second in the Portuguese league the previous season. Chelsea were second the season before he became manager. Internazionale have been champions for the past three years before this summer. None of them was a club in crisis.

But what happens when the Mourinho magic fades, when two seasons down the line the team needs breaking up and rebuilding? What happens when a club needs a philosophy tangible enough that it can be passed to another generation of players? That was when, at Chelsea, Mourinho started to think about leaving. His rift with Roman Abramovich? Ferguson survived a much more sustained personal attack from the Cubic Expression shareholders in 2004 than Mourinho ever did from Abramovich.

The kindest thing to say is that while Mourinho is a great coach, Ferguson is a great manager. Ferguson has mastered the wider, more complex art of managing the life of a big football club and the infinite problems that presents. It requires a more sophisticated outlook than fixating upon the minutiae of your best XI. What Ferguson has done – and what Mourinho has shown no sign of attempting to do – is build an institution that is self-renewing, programmed to succeed.

Can Mourinho do it? He is only 46, just two years older than Ferguson was when he took over at United, and he is already much more successful than Ferguson was at that age. No one is saying he has to spend 22 years at the same club, but there will for ever be a hole in his career if he does not prove that he can throw his credibility and his reputation with a club and create something bigger and more enduring than just his own standing in the world.

It takes a kind of maturity to do that. A willingness to accept that on occasion you might be embarrassed, even let down, by the club that you manage. During games at Old Trafford, Ferguson does not get anything like the adulation from the home crowd you might expect for a man with his record. “Fergie, Fergie give us a wave” was the best of it as his team beat Fulham on Wednesday. Perhaps it is the years, the ups and downs, the sheer familiarity.

As Mourinho would probably tell him, to be really appreciated you have to leave. Should Mourinho return to Stamford Bridge in the Champions League this season he will, in all likelihood, be treated with reverence. That is what leaving does for a manager’s reputation: supporters only remember the good times. It is staying that is hard, trying to impress them all over again every week.

Keane fails to explain Short temper behind Sunderland exit

Roy Keane offered some kind of explanation over the weekend for his exit from Sunderland, but it still seemed like a complete waste of a good career in management for the want of some perspective.

Keane resigned when Sunderland’s majority shareholder Ellis Short is said to have ticked him off for ignoring his phone call, one that came a reasonable three days after the 4-1 defeat to Bolton in November. Keane said he objected to the American’s “tone” and largely on that basis decided to quit. Which begs the question: how offensive can one man’s “tone” be?

Keane also complains how once he had the “police come to the training pitch” about a matter concerning one of his players. All the same, it’s more convenient than having to go to the police station yourself as Sir Alex Ferguson once did when Keane was locked up for the night in Manchester’s Bootle Street station in 1999.

A little ray of light for hapless Hatters

Hard not to feel pleased for Luton Town, 30 points deducted in League Two but going to Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final. Their recent plight reminds me of a “Top Tip” that once appeared in Viz. It read: “Reduce the chance of depression and possible suicide by moving away from Luton, Beds.”

No pay no gain at hands of rough Diamonds

Weymouth’s senior players refused to play against Rushden & Diamonds in the Blue Square Premier League game on Saturday because they had allegedly not been paid for two months. The side fielded was almost entirely youth team players and they lost 9-0. Makes you wonder who it was on Saturday who backed Rushden to win down from 7-4 to 8-13 at the bookies.

Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices