Tuesday 18 December 2018

Winning is more important to Jose Mourinho than pleasing people...Jurgen Klopp could learn from that

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Jose Mourinho
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Jose Mourinho
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

You could be forgiven for believing Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is set to face a fresh misconduct charge if you were persuaded by the howls of anger flowing in his direction following his side’s 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

In the eyes of many a football fantasist, Mourinho committed 'high crimes against the beautiful game' as his side produced the most predictable performance of an otherwise action packed Premier League weekend.

It was fitting that Liverpool v Manchester United was shown last on the BBC's Match of the Day running order as it was a desperate spectacle, but Mourinho is the last person who needs to apologise for a stalemate created by two managers and two teams that refused to give ground.

The endless hype surrounding this fixture - fuelled by Sky Sports serving up relentless previews and countdown clocks - gave the match the feel of a pay-per-view boxing event, with millions around the world duped into believing the two combatants were about to put on a show that would be instantly etched into Premier League folklore.

Yet those naïve onlookers were whipped into a state of fabricated frenzy without appreciating that the star of this event was never likely to sign up to the notion that he was part of the entertainment business on a day when he did what he does best.

United knew what they were hiring when they chose to replace Louis van Gaal with Mourinho in the summer of 2016 and as he will always do for as long as he is employed by the Old Trafford club, this serial winner stuck to a script that has served him well down the years in one of the biggest games of the season.

Mourinho set his team up with a defined game plan to frustrate Liverpool and challenge their manager Jurgen Klopp into changing his set-up to try and get a win his side needed to close a seven-point chasm that has already opened up between the two great rivals this season.

In the end, Klopp and his team had no answer to United's 'rope a dope' tactics and Mourinho marched out of Anfield once more amid cries of derision from those convinced he was ruining their day.

Mourinho's post match comments poking fun at Klopp and Liverpool's lack of urgency to win the match were designed to shift attention away from a disappointing performance from his own side, as they failed to test an opposition defence that would have cracked if United had made the most of their first half openings and delivered better set-piece delivery when they had the opportunity.

Yet a point at Liverpool was hardly a disaster, even if Sky pundit Gary Neville led the sizeable chorus suggesting this is not the way he expected to see his former club play in such a big game.

Of course, Mourinho could care less what Neville or any of the attention seeking pundits and journalists who have criticised him in the last couple of days have to say and former Liverpool striker John Aldridge hit the perfect note when he summed up Mourinho's tactics in his Sunday World column.

"Klopp came out after the game and said he would never get away with playing such negative tactics at Liverpool, but did anyone expect anything different from Mourinho," he asked.

"This manager gets results and doesn't care who he upsets along the way, so even if only one team was trying to win what was billed as the biggest game of the season so far, Mourinho will argue he was the winner.

"Should a great club like Manchester United play big games like this? That’s for their supporters to decide, yet the reality is that Liverpool are still a long way behind their great rivals and a massive chance to close that gap has passed them by."

If United beat Huddersfield and Liverpool lose against Tottenham at Wembley next weekend, Mourinho will move 10 points clear of Klopp in a personal duel that will have almost won nine games into the season.

Winning has always been more important to Mourinho than pleasing people and maybe Klopp could learn a thing or two from his approach.

Online Editors

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