Ferguson and Mourinho: Compared and contrasted

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Sir Alex Ferguson believes it will be 'two or three' years before he decides to relinquish his role as Manchester United manager, but the race to succeed him would already appear to be very much on.

Jose Mourinho is the clear favourite with the bookmakers to replace Ferguson at Old Trafford, while the United boss himself has previously identified the Portuguese as a leading candidate.

And, after Ferguson hinted that only a manager of Mourinho's calibre could continue his legacy, GMF compares and contrasts the master and his would-be apprentice…


Although they are not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing of teams, Ferguson has always produced sides with attacking principles at their core.

The Scot, of course, values defensive qualities in equal measure, but has always been keen to allow his forwards express themselves, albeit while maintaining a sense of discipline.

Mourinho is far more renowned for his defensive and, sometimes, negative tactics - although they have brought him success almost wherever he has been.

During his first season as Chelsea manager, the Blues cruised to the league title having conceded just 15 times, while winning 12 games by a solitary goal.

The 49-year-old has drawn particular criticism for the tactics he has employed against Barcelona during encounters with the Catalans, and they have worked to varying degrees.

Mourinho has, however, overseen a Real Madrid side this season that has scored 79 goals in 23 league games.

It is, though, easier to adopt an attacking philosophy when having the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria at one's disposal.


Both Ferguson and Mourinho are known for being fiery characters and have, at times, endured difficult relationships with the press.

Where they do differ, however, is regarding the relationships they maintain with their players.

Famed for his 'hairdryer' treatment when the going gets tough, Ferguson is often viewed as a disciplinarian, although would surely rather see himself as a perfectionist.

Many have fallen on their sword after a disagreement with the United boss, who has had a fearsome reputation ever since his days with East Stirlingshire.

However, he can also display a softer side, and the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs have cited him as a father figure.

Mourinho, meanwhile, is far more hands on with his charges and is an expert at forming an emotional bond with the players under his command.

Frank Lampard cited Mourinho leaving Stamford Bridge as one of the most difficult times in his career, while Didier Drogba claimed tears were shed.

Marco Materazzi and Mourinho were also seen in a physical embrace as they celebrated Inter Milan's triumph in the Champions League final of 2010.


After 25 years as manager of Manchester United, the loyalty of Ferguson is unquestioned.

Given his unparalleled credentials, the 70-year-old could have surely walked out of Old Trafford into another job at any time he saw fit, but is as committed to the club as the day he was appointed in 1986.

Mourinho, meanwhile, has been quick to jump ship when a seemingly better offer comes along - as he did during his time with both Porto and Inter Milan.

He is also reported to have grown tired with life at Real Madrid, and will leave the Santiago Bernabeu for a job in the Premier League after only two seasons in Spain.

Should he move to Old Trafford, there is no guarantee he would remain at the helm if another offer was received. Not that there are many better jobs than being manager of Manchester United, of course.


In 38 years as a manager of firstly St Mirren, then Aberdeen and latterly Manchester United, Ferguson has won a quite remarkable 16 league titles.

Of these triumphs, 12 have come during his time at Old Trafford, while he has also guided United to five FA Cup and four League Cup wins.

However, a manager is so often judged for his achievements in Europe and Ferguson can, of course, boast two victories in the final of the Champions League.

Ferguson had been manager of United for nearly 13 years before he was first able to lay his hands on the European Cup, and waited another nine years for a second triumph.

Success in the Champions League is perhaps the only category in which Mourinho can claim to be superior than his illustrious rival.

Mourinho has been a manager for a third of the time Ferguson has, and already has the same number of European Cups on his CV.

The Portuguese had only been a manager for four years when he lead Porto to European glory, and followed it up with a second success - this time with Inter Milan - six years later.

And, with Manchester United already ousted from this year's competition, Mourinho could move ahead of Ferguson in the Champions League stakes, should he triumph with Real Madrid this term.

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