It seems almost fashionable to give Jose Mourinho a good bashing right now.
The Special One is public enemy number one, a fun sponge and a dementor to entertainment in the final third.
But, despite not being his biggest fan, I’m going to try and probably fail to mount a defence for him after Manchester United’s latest uninspiring result.
The reaction to last night’s 0-0 draw in Sevilla has largely been negative, with Mourinho accused of parking the bus with the handbrake on while David De Gea continued to shine.
United were unfortunate in the fact they were the last of the English clubs to play.
Liverpool and Manchester City had blown their opponents away in their first legs while Tottenham and Chelsea earned plaudits for battling draws against two of Europe’s superpowers.
United, then, had a tough act to follow.
Had they played first, the stalemate in Seville might be viewed as a fairly reasonable result against an opponent who averaged two goals a game in the group stages.
They also drew home and away against Liverpool, so needed to be stifled.
Mourinho’s ‘anti-football’ really isn’t all that dissimilar to the tactics employed by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Hear me out here.
Here is his recent record away from home in Champions League knockout fixtures:
Hardly setting the world alight.
But when you compare it to Ferguson’s approach in Europe the criticism seems entirely unjustified.
On their way to winning the Champions League under Fergie in 2007/08, United scored more than one away goal just once in the knockout rounds and twice in the entire competition.
In 2010/11, like United last night, Ferguson’s Red Devils carved out a 0-0 draw at Marseille in their last 16 first leg before winning the tie 2-1.
They would go onto reach the final, beaten only by Pep Guardiola’s masterful Barcelona side.
Fergie, of course, was hailed a tactical genius while Mourinho is being hung out to dry for very similar results.
Are pundits and fans alike forgetting this is a two-legged affair?
There are 180 minutes to prepare for but, perhaps skewed by Liverpool and City’s thumping first-leg wins, punters won the job done in 90.
Mourinho has consistently deployed a cautious and conservative approach in European away games, so why exactly did people expect any different against Sevilla?
Football is no longer purely a results business.
That’s becoming blatantly clear, particularly in the eye of the consumer.
Fans of the biggest clubs are no longer satisfied by clinching three points; they demand their side puts on a show in the process.
United fans probably have a right to feel jealous considering City, Liverpool and Spurs are obliterating teams on a regular basis this season.
But if it’s entertainment they’re after, Mourinho isn’t the answer.
If it’s trophies, however, he is, as proven by the two he delivered in his debut season at Old Trafford.
The argument then is Mourinho – a results manager – is now going out of fashion.
While Ferguson and even Sam Allardyce, to some extent, were so successful 10 years ago the supporters now want to be thrilled.
Winning alone just isn’t good enough… which may signal the end of Mourinho’s era at the top.
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