Wednesday 16 October 2019

Richard Dunne: 'Unai Emery's success only highlights how Jose Mourinho is doomed at Man United'

Read Richard Dunne every week in The Herald

Jose Mourinho and Unai Emery
Jose Mourinho and Unai Emery
Richard Dunne

Richard Dunne

A football team tends to reflect the image of their manager.

And that’s why Manchester United and Arsenal are so different at the moment as you have two completely different characters in charge.

One of them, Unai Emery, is on the way up and has his team playing in his image while Jose Mourinho at United... well, it’s just drifting towards the inevitable where he gets the sack.

Emery seems to get the best out of people and he comes across as a likeable fella, where people want to play for him.

He plays an exciting brand of football and the players look energised when they go out onto the field, they look like they are interested.

And it seems like he is able to deal with the big names. For a long time now we have look at Arsenal, from a distance, and wondered what Mesut Ozil brings to the side, but Emery seems to have made the decision that Ozil doesn’t bring enough so he’s out of the picture.

Emery doesn’t have favourites, you have to perform for him and if you don’t do that, you’re out of the side.

Emery is doing the job in a different way to Mourinho. The players there want to fight for their place, to get back into the team, whereas with United, if you’re out of favour there’s no fight.

Some players need to be told why they are dropped, and be told what they need to work on. With Ozil it’s obvious that he doesn’t work hard enough, that’s why he’s not in the team but under Emery, if he goes away and works hard he can get back into the team.

But with United there is so much wrong at the moment, you don’t know where to go.

United went into that game in midweek - a home match, you have to remember - without Pogba, Lukaku and Fred, three players that he signed and spent a lot of money on.

Maybe you need to do more homework on a player before you sign him as you can’t sign a player for that much money and then just decide that you don’t like him, if you have three players worth £217million you have to build your team around them, not keep telling them that they need to adapt, he needs to try and find a system to fit into.

Mourinho says he doesn’t have the players he wants, but he was given the money to sign players so it’s his decisions which have got them where they are, he’s chosen to sign midfielders and strikers instead of defenders so he can’t blame anyone else but himself.

He has no excuses as he’s had the money to spend. A year ago, United had a much better squad than Arsenal, and it’s not like Arsenal have gone out and spent hundreds of millions, they have the same players but they have a system that works, they want to go and win games, play with energy.

I saw a stat last week which said that United have been outran by the opposition in every single game this season, which is unheard of for United. You can’t expect to win games if you don’t run, don’t work hard. They just sit in their positions and don’t do what they need to do.

With United as there is no enthusiasm at all, it seems like there is a dark cloud over the whole club whereas with Arsenal there is optimism.

They have a manager who looks like he wants to go and win matches, instead of building a team to stop other people, Emery wants his players to express themselves.

If a player is trying to do the right thing but makes a mistake, a coach like Emery will back you, tell you to keep going as he sees you are trying to do the right thing and as a player, that immediately gives you confidence, to go and do what you want on the field. 

The other side of that is, you fear that if you make a mistake the manager will slag you off in public and pick on you. The manager can take pressure away from a player, Emery does that and Mourinho only adds to the pressure.

Arsenal teams of the past always had to score what I call the ‘perfect goal’ and it’s not like that with this manager. All four goals in the 2-2 draw in midweek were bad goals - you don’t expect Arsenal to score from a corner - but they have different options now.

Aubameyang up front has been brilliant, even on Sunday against Tottenham when it wasn’t going their way, they stayed in the game.

Whatever difference of opinion there is between the manager and Aaron Ramsey, against Spurs they brought Ramsey on at half-time and he changed the game for them, then he’s captain in the next game. Everyone in that dressing room wants to play for the manager, they get forward in numbers, the full-backs are flying, the midfield are full of energy.

And with United and Mourinho, you feel it will be a soap opera every week. As long as Mourinho is there, whatever they do in the future, even if they go on and win the league, it won’t be enjoyable.

They don’t play a good brand of football, the fans don’t get excited by the team, it seems to be prolonging the inevitable as they will eventually sack him and I can’t see the point in holding on all this time.

Apart from Emery, another manager I like is Marco Silva at my former club, Everton. What I admire about them is that they play attacking football, they play with a tempo. They play interesting football and have good players, like Andre Gomes in midfield who is excellent. They are probably lacking that class of centre forward who can make them push on.

However, they do play with a style and a tempo that a lot of other clubs could do with.

Ireland can aim for top spot in Euro group

Mick McCarthy has had a week now to digest the draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

I see no reason why Ireland can’t aim to win the group because it’s a favourable draw and a winnable group, just being in the top two shouldn’t be the aim as we could finish top.

I know Denmark gave Ireland a real beating in the World Cup last year but in general, they don’t score many goals and Switzerland, while they are a good side, don’t tend to beat teams 3-0 or 4-0.

So a team like Ireland should always be in the game, in with a chance of getting a result, against the Danes and the Swiss.

A lot will come down to tactical play and how the Irish team sets up, and that’s where Mick and his staff do their work.

What Ireland need to do now in these qualifiers is to play without fear. Denmark and Switzerland are good teams, but they’re not outstanding, they don’t have that single world-class player that you, as an opposing player, would fear, they’re not the teams who will open you up and score five against you - and I know Denmark scored five in Dublin last year but I don’t see that happening again.

I think Denmark and Switzerland struggle against hard-working teams and that’s what Ireland have to be. Look at the World Cup play-off, the Swiss drew with Northern Ireland and then only beat them with a dodgy penalty. Northern Ireland were in the tie until the last minute, and a side like Ireland, once you are in the game against someone like the Swiss you can always nick something, but if you play a good German or French side you could lose 4-0.

So the Swiss are decent, they are in the top six in Europe, and we have a bad record against them as I know from playing against them, but they are beatable.

Switzerland could win every game in the group but a new-look Ireland can compete and maybe win the group.

New faces like Hasenhuttl good for game

The Premier League now doesn’t have the merry-go-round of managers that you had before - and that’s a good thing for clubs and for the game.

Mark Hughes lost his job with Southampton this week, but the club didn’t look to one of the usual names, instead they went to Germany for an Austrian coach, Ralph Hasenhuttl.

There was a spell there where you had Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce and these people who got each other’s job all the time. A position came up every couple of months and Big Sam would be in the frame.

But clubs now are more proactive and examine their options. I think Southampton saw how Leipzig had improved as a team under Hasenhuttl and while they did have money to spend, a lot of it was down to the coach and his ideas. Everyone is trying to find the next innovation in football and now, that seems to mean a foreign coach. So it adds to the league as you have new styles, new ideas, it’s better to watch.

As a player dealing with a new manager you have to be open. No-one likes change, but if you give a new manager a chance, you will improve as a player.

A lot depends on the first speech to the squad. If the manager comes in and says ‘I’m the best manager in the world’ you instantly think ‘who is this guy?’ but you have to give it time.

I had Mark Hughes as my manager at Manchester City and he was good, though he was very quiet, he didn’t speak much around the place. Tactically he was very aware, he set his teams out well, but I think being sacked by Man City knocked his confidence as he hasn’t progressed since then, whereas when he came to City, people spoke about him being the next top manager.

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