Wednesday 18 September 2019

'Mourinho is a little like Mayweather' - Gary Neville's unconventional defence of the Man United boss

Jose Mourinho and Gary Neville
Jose Mourinho and Gary Neville
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Gary Neville believes the style of football promoted by Jose Mourinho may eventually lead to his downfall as Manchester United manager, but he insists he is the right man to bring immediate success back to the Old Trafford club.

Criticism of Mourinho's pragmatic brand of football has been growing despite United's solid start to the season, with Neville suggesting the club's supporters may eventually lose patience with a manager who has a reputation for putting winning ahead of entertainment.

Yet he suggests that dissent will be silenced so long as United are winning trophies, as he backed Mourinho to succeed at Old Trafford.

"If you ask United fans, they're emotional about how to play the game," Neville told Sky Sports.

"They expect attack at all costs, they sing: 'Attack, attack, attack!' They want waves of attacks, sustained attacks. They don't expect you to drop off, retreat, they expect you, if you like, to almost die trying.

"There are two reasons people are looking at this issue. One is history: Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson have in the past said publicly how the club should always play. It should always be attacking football, entertaining football. That's caused him a bit of a problem perception-wise, and he doesn't feel like he's getting the respect he deserves.

"The other problem is the football Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are playing, which is fantastic to watch.

"My personal view is he has come in to win the league. He's got to win the league. The club hasn't won the league for a few years.

"I have to say they've scored 15 goals in five games at Old Trafford, and the games I've been to have been exciting, they've played well. Saturday was a really good performance; I actually thought it was a good game, a bit of a struggle, as big games should be.

"We tear strips out of defences constantly when they make mistakes - the Liverpool performance at Spurs recently we said was ridiculous - but actually this is really good defending to get this group of players, top players, to get back goal side, get into good defensive shape.

"It's a resilience, a toughness that United have now got. They're hard to beat, you very rarely see them exposed. That's a robustness, a spirit.

"I think (Mourinho's tactics) are a problem in the long-term, but I think at the moment Manchester United need a cold, hard winner."

Comparing Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to Mourinho, Neville argued Mourinho's record of success over the course of his decorated career is evidence that his method is a recipe for success as he argued his winning tactics was similar to those used by boxing legend Floyd Mayweather.

"Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp have got wonderful reputations for being attacking coaches, but Mourinho is a little bit like Mayweather at times," he added. "Mayweather is called boring at times, where he uses defence as a weapon, let's people punch themselves out.

"Jurgen Klopp in that game a few weeks ago didn't feel he could fully go for it, because he felt: 'He's going to do me, I don't want to get done by a Mourinho masterclass.' And I think Tottenham lacked the belief to go for it on Saturday.

"I think he gets into heads, and has his rivals thinking: 'I can't get done on the counter-attack here, he'll do me'. And that's a great coach, to think he can have other coaches spoiling their tactics. So in some ways I think he does deserve more respect, his record is unbelievable."

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