Sir Alex Ferguson has defended the touchline antics of Jose Mourinho.
The Real Madrid manager hit the headlines once more after appearing to poke Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye following a recent Spanish Supercopa clash. Many feel such incidents could cost Mourinho any chance of succeeding Ferguson as Manchester United boss when the Scot eventually calls time on his stellar career.
However, Ferguson is not convinced Mourinho is a member of the bad boys' club. Indeed, the former Chelsea boss reminds him very much of himself. "I don't find anything wrong with his enthusiasm," Ferguson told Corriere dello Sport.
"When I was younger I showed more enthusiasm on the bench too. I was always gesticulating and directing. It's Mourinho's nature to be agitated," added Ferguson, recalling the night he charged up the touchline at Old Trafford after Porto had recorded a memorable Champions League win in 2004.
"When I saw Mourinho run up and down the touchline at Old Trafford when he coached Porto, I said to myself, 'Did I also use to do that?' People recognise his enthusiasm. The fans understand that he's fighting for them and for the squad."
Mourinho will doubtless be glad of the support, especially from such a respected figure. However, with the Champions League due to get under way again, Ferguson has plenty on his plate with the memories of last season's chastening final defeat to Barcelona still fresh in the memory.
The current Barca side has been hailed by some as the finest in history, but Ferguson was more equivocal in his assessment.
He said: "It is certainly among the best sides of all time. But so was the Milan side with (Franco) Baresi, (Carlo) Ancelotti, (Roberto) Donadoni and the Dutch players.
"People in football have short memories. Now everyone says Barcelona are a fantastic squad, but at the time they said the same thing about Milan. There is no sense in asking which is the best team of all time.
"The important thing is to remember that a certain squad was special. That makes me think of the Dutch squads in the 70s, Bayern and Celtic, which beat Inter in the European Cup in 1967. That was a squad in which the players were born within a 25-kilometre radius."
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