Cruyff's turn to take pot-shot at 'boring' Mourinho

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The Independent Online

Alas, Cruyff does not miss the game he made beautiful with all the venom with which he now misses six-footers. In fact, talking to the man universally referred to as "the world's best player (apart from the other two)" in Fife this week, he seemed positively delighted to be out of a sport he feels is letting down the legacy he and his generation's other forward-thinkers bequeathed.

But although he has walked away to run business colleges, his voice is still weighty enough to carry through the wind and as he stood by Kingsbarns' 18th green on Thursday, Mr Total Football had a message for Mr Totalitarian.

"Jose Mourinho is a very good practical coach," said the 58-year-old. "But I believe he should worry about the performance as much as the result. It should only be the small teams who are obsessed with winning because that will keep them in the top division - anything goes when you're down there. But it's different for the top clubs; they have a responsibility to more than just their own club. They have a responsibility to the whole game. In short, the big managers have a duty to entertain."

Being a naturalised Catalan, whose heartstrings have stayed pitched in the Nou Camp long after his head packed the trailer and backed out of football's most raucous of big tops, it is perhaps hardly surprising that Cruyff is not the Chelsea manager's biggest fan, a fact he ratifies with his defence of Barcelona.

"Mourinho's behaviour against Frank Rijkaard was not good, not a good example at all," he said, painfully recalling the furore caused by the club's former interpreter when claiming that his counterpart tried to influence the result of the Champions' League tie by venturing into the referee's dressing room at half-time. "What he must try to do is have respect for everybody. If you are a top team then you have to have more respect. But Mourinho will learn."

It would be a brave man to dare sit him down and teach him, although Cruyff will forever maintain that Rinus Michels' Dutch pioneers of 1974 provided a lesson for all to follow. "Sure, we never won [the World Cup] but everybody keeps asking 'Did you try to be too entertaining?' How can you ever be too entertaining? In my view, if you are being entertaining you are simply playing well and if you are playing well you will score a lot more goals than you are letting in. Sure, by playing this way there will be bad games, and some times you might doubt the way you play. But you must stick with it.

"Take Barcelona last season. We had a lot of enjoyable games. Some you lose, but that is part of the enjoyment, that is what people look for. Barcelona were playing the best football in Europe, undoubtedly."

Plenty of doubt will be cast in SW6, however, where Cruyff would instantly be reminded who advanced from those two controversial legs in March. But as he once so famously said, "chance is logical", and Cruyff will not be swayed, just as he will not waver in the great 4-5-1 debate. "Yeah, I've heard about all the arguments in England," he said. "But while I think too much is made about formations and not enough in the drop in technique throughout football, I have always been a 4-3-3 man. I have never played 4-5-1 and never would. And neither would Rijkaard.

"Why? Simply because with 4-3-3, it's easier to make combinations going forward. With only one up front, who is he feeding off, passing to? Football is about having the best offensive play possible and 4-3-3 does not have to leave you exposed. At Barcelona they get the defence sitting very close to the midfield, which means the opponents have less space and if they have less space, then they need a lot of technique to survive."

Invariably, of course, they do not survive, a truth that presents Cruyff with the alluring hunch that this just might be the year to add to the solitary European Cup he led them to in 1992. He certainly saw nothing to trouble him on Tuesday when hopping on a private jet with Ian Poulter to witness Arsenal beating Ajax in Amsterdam.

"A very poor match," he said, pointing out that it was a little unfair to judge two teams ravaged by injury. "Bad ball control, little technique, not much entertainment." It summed up his golf. The "Cruyff turn" is not what it used to be.

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