City’s win over United proves that Mourinho is the real checkbook manager

I watched Man City demolish Manchester United at Old Trafford and I think it’s fair to say that I haven’t seen football like that since 2005 and honestly, I’ve never seen better football in my life than yesterday’s win by Man City.

In 2005, Arsenal were the reigning champs, having just come off their Invincibles season. They were known the world over for playing football “The Arsenal Way” which meant that in possession they could play “piggy in the middle” against opponents and just pass the ball around them. Not only technique but when Arsenal wanted to counter attack, the just climbed the ladder: Campbell to Vieira to Bergkamp to Henry.  It wasn’t just the speed of Henry’s runs that made that happen, it was the speed that they moved the ball up the pitch. Bang, bang, bang, goal.

And they could defend. My could they defend. In 03/04 they allowed just 26 goals, the 2nd best defensive record of Arsene Wenger’s career.  Wenger had pipped Sol Campbell from Tottenham with a record breaking contract offer and Campbell along with Kolo Toure, Ashley Cole and Bisan Lauren formed an amazing partnership at the back. They had the strength to win balls in the air, they were strong, they had speed, they had balance in going forward or staying back, and they were organized.

This was also the Arsenal team that won 13 games in a row: from February to May 2002. The 12th game in that series was against Man U at Old Trafford. They won 1-0 thanks to a Sylvain Wiltord goal in the 57th minute. And because of that goal, Arsenal won the League at Old Trafford. That 13 game winning streak prompted Arsene Wenger to predict that his team could go an entire season unbeaten.

Two years later they won the League at White Hart Lane. And went an entire season unbeaten.

The next year (04/05) Arsenal were still flying high. They were unbeaten in their last 49 games and went into their 50th League game away at Old Trafford. It was the ugliest game of football ever played. Man U took full advantage of referee Mike Riley, kicking Arsenal players (especially targeting Reyes), tackling from behind, and even denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity with a foul by Rio Ferdinand on Freddie Ljungberg (which went uncalled). United won the game thanks to a Wayne Rooney dive to win a penalty and after the match, tempers flared in the tunnels, Cesc Fabregas was later identified as the player who caused Sir Alex Ferguson to have a permanent pizzaface.

After that match Arsenal “put on maybe a little bit the handbrake”. They finished the season 2nd, behind upstart young manager Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea side, who nearly went unbeaten themselves, losing just one game – a 1-0 away to Man City, the only goal was a penalty scored by former Arsenal forward Nicolas Anelka.

Wenger was the most respected manager in the world. Not only was he able to get his team playing remarkable football in the toughest league in the world, he was also a wizard at transfers, seeming to know exactly when to buy and sell for maximum profit. Wenger parlayed his encyclopedic knowledge of world footballers into a team of well paid but cheaply assembled superstars.

He was also well known for his ability to transform players. He took Lauren and transformed him from midfielder to right back, he took Toure and moved him into the center of defense, and most magically, he moved Thierry Henry from winger to striker, where Henry would break the Arsenal scoring record on his way to 229* goals for Arsenal.

Then along came the Checkbook Sam Allardyce, Jose Mourinho. He literally just bought any player linked to Arsenal by offering their clubs more money than Arsenal could. He also just tapped up and took players by offering them giant contracts. Then with his expensively assembled team of mercs, Mourinho played football the Allardyce way.

You’re just a rich Tony Pulis
You’re just a rich Tony Pulis
a rich Tony Puuuuulis
You’re just a rich Tony Pulis.

Mourinho has won at every team he’s ever managed. But the football he plays is so basic, so ugly, and his personality is so much like the football he plays that eventually everyone gets sick of him and he is forced to move on to another club. Known for his preparation, Mourinho hands out 2 inch thick binders on the opponents with specific instructions on how to neutralize their attack. He then gets up and gives a team talk that consists of 10 minutes where he just drags his fingernails on the chalkboard. And if the players don’t play to his exact standards he publicly humiliates them in his post-match interviews, “I told them to watch out for this, I don’t know why they didn’t do it.”

He’s also a caustic little turd of a man who likes to make a big show of everything he does. One year he pretended to be gracious in defeat, waiting for every Arsenal player to exit the medal award plinth after their win in the Charity Shield. He stood at the bottom of the stairs and tried to shake all their hands. The real point of that show was to give Wenger a big SIKE in public, Wenger was never going to shake Mourinho’s hand, he doesn’t shake hands with the Devil.

So, of course after Man City, managed by Pep Guardiola, put on a masterclass at Old Trafford winning 2-1 last night in the first Manchester Derby of the season, there were afters involving Jose Mourinho. The stories vary. His story is that he went to the opposition dressing room to ask them to stop celebrating so loud. The City story is that he stormed in there and accused Ederson of timewasting. I’ve been writing about Premier League football for almost 10 years and I can tell you which story I believe: both. Mourinho probably convinced himself that he was going in there to “teach them some class” – which is like have a thief teach you the value of ownership – and when Ederson told him to go flush himself he almost certainly erupted into the Mourinho that everyone has seen in public.

And as for City they are a better version of Arsenal 2000-2005. The League is far more competitive than it was in that era. There are now six teams vying for the Premier League title. Every team in the League can afford to buy a £50m player if they want. Most teams are managed by men who come from the highest echelons of football management: this is a tactically aware league, awash with money, with scouts all over the world, where every team has analysts and nutritionists, and very few teams play football from the 18th century. For City to be brushing those teams aside, winning 14 in a row and smashing Arsenal’s record in the process, is a huge feat. To win at Old Trafford, yet another huge feat. The top 6 teams lost 9 games at home last season, combined. Nine of 114 home matches. So, to beat a big club on their home ground is a huge deal.

Guardiola is often accused of being a checkbook manager and I get where that comes from, City have spent a billion dollars assembling that squad. The players he’s most ridiculed for buying are Stones, Mendy, and Walker, which cost £150m combined. It’s true: Guardiola has spent with almost no restrictions. But that’s because he could. If you have unlimited funds, why not just give Everton £50m for Stones? It makes negotiations easy. It gets the player you need and gets him into the club quickly so that you can get to work.

Fans seem to want Guardiola to manage Stoke City in order to prove his credentials. They decry the money he’s spent on players but fail to also recognize the work that he’s done to make that team into the remarkable side that they are now. He’s transformed players like Stones, Walker and Delph. Those players were good and had the basic physicality needed for the Premier League but they play like Barcelona players now. The same goes for virtually every player in his team. Yes, he bought them, but he also coached them into the team that they are now.

When it comes to spending, yes, City have spent ridiculous amounts of money – in the last four seasons City have spent £437m on transfers. But United have spent £372m on transfers. Both Mourinho and Guardiola have spent a fortune, but only Guardiola has his team playing football.

Fans want Guardiola to manage Stoke, but Mourinho has spent nearly the same amount of money on players at United and basically turned them into Stoke under Pulis. Mourinho is the real checkbook manager.


*No, Scott Dann cannot have that own goal that the PL said he scored on Henry’s return to Arsenal in 2012. Nope. He will always have scored 229 goals for me.


  1. Loved City’s win. Made the weekend feel…just grand.

    You know, your post is great, as usual, but doesn’t it pain you to write about the Invincibles? I even have trouble reading about them these days (years, actually). I would rather not think about them, because doing so makes this team and how I feel about it (and the manager) even sadder than it is. ‘We used to be great’ is just such a depressing feeling!

    1. Not really. I’m fond of reminiscing over exes and lost loves. I like to think I move on but I never really do.

  2. As for the playing football part comes, ManU organisation including fans well and truly knew what they were getting into when they hired Mourinho. They could not toil the brief absence from spotlight; being the top team; winning major trophies; being the envy of every other PL teams; in short.. living up to the words Glory Glory to ManUtd!!!

    All wound might heal for them when he lifts the EPL trophy (No, I’m joking..) or UCL (might lose to man city again there.. LOL) but until then as an Arsenal fan I will relish every time Mourinho lose a game!!!

    1. I wish that were true. Guardiola’s obsessive attention to detail with on the pitch actions of his players was never shared by Wenger, who is not quite laissez-faire, but is certainly no longer avante-garde. He belongs in the generation of managers who believed in putting their players in the general areas where they are likely to succeed and let them figure it out from there, unlike Guardiola, who believes in putting players exactly where they should be at all times. It’s the natural evolution of the sport but seemingly only Guardiola has figured out how to do it consistently for multiple clubs in both phases of the game. He’s a gem.

  3. It was terrific game (yesterday afternoon), and as much as I hate to say it City are looking like the complete team and may be the next invincibles and will probably crash through the 100 point barrier this season. If we can’t win the PL I hope they do, despite all the money.

  4. It hurts to admit that you’re probably right about City being better than the Invincibles were, at least to this point in the season. It could still fall apart like it did last year (though I’m not holding my breath).

    I think we need to recognize, beyond Guardiola’s organizational and inspirational genius, how individually talented his midfield is. In particular, Kevin de Bruyne: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player as talented with the ball who also does as much without the ball. Imagine if Eden Hazard suddenly became a team player and started to track back obsessively; that’s what City has in KdB. I don’t think he’s quite garnered the appreciation he deserves, probably because he doesn’t score all the goals but in my opinion he’s the one piece that makes it all stick together for them. It’s the perfect example that a team will often only work as hard as its best player, and KdB really sets the tone.

    1. KdB is the heartbeat of that team. The rare transcendent talent who will also do the dirty work. He’s probably my favorite player. I love it that Mourinho couldn’t appreciate what he had with him.

  5. I’ll never like Jose for taking Ashley Cole from us for Willliam Gallas and 5 million. Arsenal, so good at maxing on players, got the shaft on that in every which way, for the best English player of his generation in that position.

    I do think though, that Jose is a better manager than you give him credit for (you missed a trick by NOT illustrating this article with a mockup of Mourinho with horns 😀 ).

    Two season ago he somehow masterminded a win over Arsenal, without a single fit centre half (the game that saw the full emergence of Marcus Rashford). It wasn’t his chequebook talking then. Look, Jose isnt going to give you pretty, but his record is pretty darned impressive.

    As for Pep, not so sure that he’s turned John Stones into Gerard Pique, but he has made him, Delph and Sterling better players than they had been a season ago. I mean the only way was up for the previously hapless Stones. Against Arsenal, City were lucky with ref calls, as well as, admittedly, clinical. I did not see a manifest superiority on the park.

    And you know, the questions about the top-rank teams he’s managed are still valid. He want from managing Messi and Iniesta’s Barcelona, to managing Ribery, Robben and Lewandowski at the Champions League winners. City’s can spunk anything on anyone. Yes, they’ll run away with it, but anything else would be a failure.

    Are they better than the Invincibles? I don’t know. I think a black mark against the Invincibles was that they weren’t that great in Europe. let’s see how far Pep takes this City team in Europe. Let’s wait till the end of the season, then we’ll see.

    But man for man, would you take Delph over Ashley Cole? Walker over Lauren? Fernandinho or de Bruyne over Vieira? Stones over Sol? Their keeper over Jens? Kun over Thierry? Silva over Bergkamp?

    1. He was Barcelona B coach before Barcelona and won with them, but then there’s always the criticism that he had la Masia to choose from.

      It’s like looking at the Sistine Chapel and asking, yeah, but could he do it with watercolors at the local parish chapel in Stoke?

    2. Claude,
      The game you claim Jose “masterminded” (the one that saw the emergence of Rashford) was a game in which Louis Van Gaal was still manager of Man United 🙂

      1. Good catch, PFo. My mistake. Should have chosen another example. Like, err, last week? Though I’d still argue against myself that de Gea had the game of his life, and we may otherwise have got something from that game.

        Regarding Pep, Im going to take the sage advice of one Tim Todd, who gave us perfectly timed advice about not to get carried away, yet, about Pocchetino.

        1. There was nothing mastermindful about last week. We coughed up two quickies and then spent the next 70 minutes making his team look like Burnley. Yeah, he won because we couldn’t hit the target. Whoopee. He’ll finish 2nd and win the top 4 trophy just like (I hope) we will.

    3. We let Cole go for the sake of an extra £5k a week. He wanted £60k, we wouldn’t go above £55k. Best left back in the world at the time. Utterly inept negotiating.

      1. I’ve heard that before but will regard it as hearsay until I see proof… until proven otherwise, it’s a clever media plant by the Cole camp.

        1. Oh come on. Don’t be the last Japanese soldier in the jungle 10 years after the war. It’s a fact, established several times over.

          1. I mean I believe it (to an extent), but what makes it an established fact? That no one from Arsenal has refuted that claim? We don’t do that.

            We were preparing for life after Highbury and money was a problem, so I can understand that Arsenal would have thought 55k was a fair offer and were sticking to it. Besides, what’s to say that if we offered 60k, Cole wouldn’t have still gone to Mourinho and Chelsea to come back and say I want 75? Maybe Arsenal felt Cole wasn’t negotiating in good faith.

            I think athlete’s contracts are a little more complicated than just the weekly wages. I’m not sure what other issues there were, but I don’t think it’s likely to be just a case of 5k a week.

          2. Don’t be ridiculous, Doc. I’m going to presume that you have internet service. 🙂

            Belief, and facts, are not a matter of convenience.

  6. Yep.. was just gonna point out what PFO already said. All of United’s young up and coming stars like Rashford, Martial, Lingard were all LVG finds. For all the complaints against LVG, I always thought he had an eye for young talent.

  7. Tim,
    I wish Pep would go to a side that wasn’t already head and shoulders the most financially dominant in its league (or in Barca’s case, one of two), but I think you’re missing the point as to why I think that (I know there are plenty of other folks who criticize him in the manner you say, but that’s not my view).
    Let me explain:
    1. I don’t think Pep is a “check book manager” if that means (something like) he’s largely/completely dependent on buying expensive finished articles for his success.

    2. Pep is a brilliant manager, undoubtedly the best of his generation in my eyes. I’m a huge fan.

    3. His teams play great football, which can’t be said for Jose, obviously.

    4. I don’t think this City team is playing quite as well as his Barca team at their peak (but then Barca had slightly better players, including the greatest player of all time), but they’re close, and his Bayern team was great and probably deserved to go farther in the CL (people forget they were robbed by the ref against Real last year).

    5. I don’t agree with Doc that he’s the only modern manager who’s managed to figure out how to be hyper organized in both phases of the game, but he’s the only one who’s figured out how to be hyper organized AND still get his teams playing glorious, beautiful, free-flowing football.

    6. HOWEVER, what’s frustrating is NOT that his teams are only good because he bought the league. What’s frustrating is that the best manager goes to teams that can also attract AN ENTIRE SQUAD FULL OF WORLD CLASS PLAYERS WITH EASE VIRTUALLY EVERY SUMMER (not just one or two or three or four). This is equivalent to all the athletic kids in the elementary school playground rigging the teams so that they were all on the same team in touch football (or basketball, baseball, soccer, etc–am I the only one that this happened to?). Surprise, surprise, they won every time, but it wasn’t as fun, not just to the losing teams with the uncoordinated kids, but even to the team full of jocks (I was pretty athletic so I was typically on those teams, but it still wasn’t as fun for me). Competition is fun. Anything that kills competition by giving one party a huge leg up is less fun (note, this is different than if one team started from a completely level playing field and just became brilliant on their own merits, destroying everyone in their path).

    6. In other words, the reason I don’t like Pep choosing Bayern and City after Barca is essentially the same reason so many people didn’t like that Kevin Durant chose to go to Golden State. The warriors pre-Durant were already brilliant, and had got there from a basically level playing field by great recruitment and great coaching. Durant choosing to jump on the bandwagon in order to have an easy road to a championship was perfectly within his rights and wasn’t immoral in any way, obviously. But it just felt lame, somewhat against the spirit of the game.

    7. In still other words: what frustrates me about Pep at City is that I KNOW he’s the best manager in world football, maybe the best of all time, but because he’s only chosen to manage at teams with a significant leg up in their respective leagues, it ALLOWS the trolls and haters to call him a check book manager, when they never could if he had gone to, say, Arsenal or Liverpool or Spurs, and was winning the way he is now with those teams. It hardly “tarnishes his legacy”, of course, but it makes his achievements just a little bit less impressive and fun to watch than they otherwise could have been.

    1. There’s no question that Pep is a great, visionary coach. No, he’s not a chequebook manager. It’d be disrespectful to the guy to suggest that he is. But yeah, cooking with caviar and champagne is going to get you superb dishes. And man, he’s either worked with the best ingredients, or the capacity to work with a costly grocery bill.

      Great point that Stones, Delph et al aren’t that, and if he wins the champions league with this lot, I’ll tip my hat.

    2. “I don’t agree with Doc that he’s the only modern manager who’s managed to figure out how to be hyper organized in both phases of the game, but he’s the only one who’s figured out how to be hyper organized AND still get his teams playing glorious, beautiful, free-flowing football.”

      We agree 100% but you’ve articulated it better here than I did above.

  8. I don’t see Pep as a check book manager. He may have spent a lot of money, but in my view he simply over payed and then turned those players he bought into much much better players, getting them closer to the price he initially payed.
    It’s one thing splashing a ton of money on Lukaku and Pogba, or Neymar and Mbappe, who are almost guaranteed to make a difference, but Pep didn’t buy any “world class” player.
    In fact, he bought the type of players Arsenal usually buys, only for the money Arsenal can’t (doesn’t want to) afford. Sane for example is a typical Arsenal purchase. These are the players you have to additionally develop and he managed to turn them into world class players being an essential part in a team playing phenomenal football.

    I didn’t like Pep much before because you know, Barca and Bayern. But in a country in which almost half the teams can afford splashing cash left and right, he managed to construct a team with players like Stones, Sane and Delph which is running away with the League, and that can’t be taken away with the excuse of just splashing cash.

  9. Oh boy. Here goes…

    I actually think IF Mourinho were to manage Stoke he’d better at it than Guardiola.

    I say that with reservation because I know I may be accused of liking him or his style. Not the case. But whereas Mourinho has worked his way up to where he is, Guardiola, for all his obvious ability, coached the Barca B team for a couple of seasons and then walked into the job of managing maybe the greatest team we’ve seen in the last 25 years.

    I will make a prediction here that no one will like; City will win it this year, but I wouldn’t bet against United next year. I’m thinking of Mourinho’s tenure at Real Madrid where he came up against Guardiola’s Barcelona, getting swept aside the first season, making a breakthrough in the Cup the second season and then winning the league the third year. Might be a repeat pattern here. If United get Ozil this summer, don’t be surprised.

    1. To piggy back on Tim’s Sistine Chapel analogy, I’m not about to hand out any credit to Mourinho because he’s possibly better with crayons than Guardiola. Whoopee, look dad, I drew a starfish! It’s super realistic!

      1. Also, Guardiola didn’t walk into the greatest team; he made them into the greatest team. You can’t overstate that. Yes, Rijkaard’s lot beat us in the CL final in 2006 but when Guardiola took over in 2008 he overhauled the core of the roster, including moving on from Eto’o, Deco and Ronaldinho and . It was Messi’s first season as the main man up front. He promoted Busquets to the first team and brought Pique back from United (Haha). The team he molded was different to the one he inherited and he won the treble with them in his first year against probably the best Manchester United team ever (which included young Ronaldo) in one of the most one sided CL finals I’ve seen. And imagine, there was Alex Hleb, not getting a kick at all in that game.

        1. Exactly. I don’t know where people get the idea that he bought his way into that Barcelona team. And at Bayern he was hardly just buying up world talent. Yes, he got Alcantara for a big sum but he needed a players like that to implement his style. And let’s not forget what his did with Lahm at Bayern. The man is a genius.

          1. Barcelona finished 3rd in the league on 65 points the year before Guardiola took over, 24 behind eventual winners Real Madrid. Next season? Finished first, 9 points clear of Real Madrid with 87 points and a goal difference of 105 including a 6-2 hammering of Real Madrid, IN Madrid!

          2. Guardiola’s record in away games is excellent proof of his credentials. People literally underestimate how hard it is to win away against a big team.

        2. Hey, I like Guardiola too. I’ve read Pep Confidential and the other book by Ballague. That said – those were three pretty s**t goals on Sunday. Yes, City had the run of play but honestly, United weren’t that far off from winning it ugly. Lukaku had a horror show of a game. Had he buried that chance, who knows? We’d all be here moaning and singing a different tune, about how ugly football won again.

    2. Jack,
      The Stoke point is an interesting one. My first reaction was to think you’re almost certainly right, since Stoke can’t afford players with enough skill to play peak Pep-ball, and he’s unwilling (certainly he’d be able if he were willing) to play Pulis-ball, whereas Mourinho is obviously great at it.
      But, while Pep couldn’t buy himself a David Silva or Thiago Alcantara to run his Stoke midfield, and Glenn Whelan could never play for Pep no matter how much Pep worked with him (a good example here is Joe Hart: a very good player but he simply couldn’t do what Pep required so he was let go), I think there probably ARE cheap “Barca-lite” players out there who wouldn’t cost more for Stoke to purchase than some overpriced PL veteran Brit would cost them. They wouldn’t come from England, but from continental Europe (think someone like Riyad Mahrez, who was bought for peanuts), and, with Pep as their manager (as opposed to, say, Arsene Wenger), I think they’d be able to challenge for the top 6–even if the quality gap meant they’d never be that close to winning the title. Maybe Mourinho would be able to do this too, playing his version of Pulis-ball, but I doubt it, for one thing because we’ve pretty much already seen perfect Pulis ball played by Stoke players, and it got them to, what, 8th one year? Mourinho might be able to crack the top 6 with Stoke once if things fell his way, but he wouldn’t be able to do it consistently, whereas I think Pep might.
      Basically, we underestimate Pep’s talents because we assume his way of playing requires ridiculous quality, but that’s like saying a Michelin star chef couldn’t come over and cook you an amazing meal with cheap ingredients from your local supermarket. That meal wouldn’t be as good as the gourmet meal he’d make you at his restaurant, but it might not be that far off.

  10. Yeah, Man City is hands down the best club football on offer in Europe and looking to be one of the best teams having one of the best seasons in English top flight history. And that’s a long, long time.

    “Footballistically speaking”, I still find the Messi, Iniesta, Xavi era of Barcelona to be the most entertaining of Guardiola’s sides but this team is not far behind.

    1. Come on guys, let’s be serious: Messi/Iniesta/Xavi Barca is still STREETS ahead of this City team, both in terms of quality and in terms of entertainment value. We’ve almost certainly forgotten just how good they were.
      But Pep is probably a better manager today than he was then, since he’s a more versatile manager now, and also the experience at Bayern taught him how to play his style without having a squad full of La Masia grads (the fact that the likes of Delph, Stones, Walker, and Sterling can do it is testament to that greater coaching ability).

  11. Pep deserves a lot of credit for his work at City. Way more than a checkbook guy. Look what happened to Bayern when he left? Ancelloti was a disaster with essentially the same players. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons I am not excited about the Ancelloti to Arsenal rumors. If there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s less rigorous/structured training and coaching style that he brought. After Wenger, we need someone who’s a little more hads-on, and younger.

  12. “CLT” is Mourinho in a nutshell!
    That said, I’m sorry Utd didn’t win. They didn’t deserve to, City were excellent and Pep is a magician. But I’d also like to see him manage with some constraint – either without the best player in the world or a Champions League winning core or access to City’s bank vault.
    For that reason, I hope someone beats them this season and they fail to emulate the Invincibles. It would be more of an achievement if they did, given the increase in quality throughout the league, but Wenger did it without such an advantageous chequebook ( or a Champions league winning core or the world’s best player) and that made that season’s alchemy all the more unique.
    ….So COYS next weekend!

  13. Really, the only real difference between Mourinho and Allardyce is that Mourinho had two bits of luck. Firstly, he got a little lucky when he won the Champions League with Porto. The only high quality team he had to beat that year was a so-so Man United team and the rest of the heavy hitters were upset such that Porto did not have to beat any other pedigreed team.

    Having won the Champions League he cashed in on the considerable credit of that win to land at Chel$ki, right at the beginning of Abramovich’s massive, heretofore unheard of cash injection. The massive amounts of money and creditability of being a Champions League winner enabled him to buy an uber talented team and the “winners” reputation accrued from Porto persuaded players to buy into his ultra-defensive methods. Combine the ultra defensive setup and the ability to buy attackers who could win games on their own proved a successful formula.

    The other bit of luck was his agent, Jorge Mendes. Many of Mourinho’s buys were also Mendes clients and I don’t think that his behind the scenes power can be underestimated. A few years ago, a Guardian article outlined Mendes’ influence and crowned him as one of the most powerful men in professional a football, a bonafide kingmaker. Agents can basically control where players end up and I doubt that Mendes was reticent to take payments from Chel$ki to steer players to Mourinho, enhance Mourinho’s reputation and power, and create a synergistic money spinning machine.

    I’m sure Allardyce was incredibly jealous watching Mourinho implement Big Sam style football at Real Madrid. The kicker for Allardyce is that because he doesn’t have Jose’s cachet, players and fans at Real would never let him near the club. I do think that Mourinho’s stint at Real dinged his reputation. Nobody at Real has recovered from Mourinho’s “discovery” that Pepe was their most important midfielder.

    1. Basically agree with this. Mourinho (and everything he brings with him, including Mendes) is a cancer on football. You’ve neglected to mention that Porto only beat United that year after Paul Scholes had a legitimate goal called offside.

  14. Well, now that we’ve praised them, who will bury them? Because some PL club has to step up to take them down and I doubt it will be The Arsenal to come to the rescue of its own Invincibles record. Huddersfield I say, or maybe West Ham?

  15. Tim, agree with every word,
    Not only did City outplayed United but also pushed them around in their own house,
    Guardiola makes players into winners and gives them swagger.
    David fu#cking Silva going in hard on Man U midfield enforcers? Love it.
    How about City keeping the ball in United half , by the corner flag for about two minutes to run out the clock.

    I can still remember ljunberg and Henry do the same in their pomp.

    How far have we fallen with this Arsenal iteration, good grief.
    How many times did Xhaka offer the helping hand to pick United player up after he might’ve fouled him two weeks ago? Three or four , that I can remember,
    It was nauseating?
    Neither City player wanted to make nice with their United counterparts yesterday . Winners , simply put, just like Arsenal invincibles used to be.

  16. This make me yearn having Arteta as Arsene’s successor even more
    We wasted the chance of having Pep while we had all the requirements, financially and culturally with possession based attacking football style. Now Arteta has all the working ethics and game readings abilities with Pep’s education at the top of it

    1. Yeah, who knows if Mikel will end up anywhere near as good as Pep, but he’s probably the only ex-player that looks to have a realistic shout at being a (good!) future Arsenal manager. And he’s total class.

  17. I like Pep Guardiola. I mean he’s sometimes a bit weird and difficult to like, but I like him. I also think his teams play great football. Cheque book manager is certainly not a wholly fitting description for him. However, it has SOME merit that in executing his vision, he has almost always had the freedom of having the choice of elite talent. And that’s something most managers in the world have never had, let alone had the chance to have with 3 different clubs. To be clear, that is also to Pep’s credit. But it is also a different era for clubs and managers.

    I don’t think anyone can legitimately compare Pep with Jose. Mourinho has his abilities, but Pep is streets ahead of him as a manager and a person. Certainly as an entertainer (I never was entertained by Jose’s antics)

    I think the chequebook manager argument comes from Arsenal supporters who don’t like Pep’s abilities as a manager put in opposition to Wenger’s. Pep may be the better manager, but if Wenger weren’t looking to build a club, he would have had the same luxury of having the best players to execute HIS vision. A part of me wishes he had because it seems like a loss for the sport. But that he chose to stay means that I’m not going to compare the two because the frame of reference is skewed until either Wenger goes to manage maybe PSG or Pep manages at Liverpool or Valencia. (Both of which are not happening)

    Pep’s achievments are great and I mean that beyond the trophies. So are Wenger’s. And neither of them are cheque book managers because they elevate the game with how they get their teams playing. Mourinho does the basics and debases the game with his antics, all while spending a billion, a lot of which goes toward enriching his own agent. So yeah, we all know who the chequebook manager is.

    PS.I just had a thought. Guardiola couldn’t do the job that Wenger did in the early Emirates years. For one, I don’t think he could motivate himself when he doesn’t have a chance of winning the league. Which is probably why he goes to the clubs he does. His challenge is with himself, not the rest. Wenger is similar, but his challenge was to build up a club that he has grown to love.

    1. It’s probably more to do with the time frame than with his need for elite players. Pep needs at least somewhat tactically aware players with a good technique. At a smaller club he would need some time to implement that nad work with the players and to collect those players. However he works in 3-4 year cycles before he himself becomes jaded. The limitations of losing players, having to start over with a not self-determined player turnover and maybe a potential lack of patience from his superiors make this tactic difficult.

      1. Bela Guttman was one of the godfathers of modern football management who had 25 distinct managerial stints in his career. He is one of the best known proponents of the three years and out rule in football management which seems to ring true for a lot, but interestingly, not all managers and it’s not tied to competence.

  18. Something I read somewhere about the Ashley Cole contract was that the issue arose because Cole wanted Arsenal to pay money towards his agent and Arsenal refused because they thought he should be the one paying the agent, not them.

    Don’t know if that’s actually fact or just rumour.

    1. Sounds plausible. It’s also worth noting that we are looking at that negotiation with 20/20 hindsight. Everyone knew Cole was a really good player and Arsenal didn’t want to lose him but I don’t think he was deemed irreplaceable at a club that had much bigger stars to worry about.

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