Oliver Phillips reflects on the Premier League season by examining Manchester United's fall from the top of the tree

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Picture: Action Images

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Picture: Action Images

First published in Sport Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by

It was in August 2012 that some old buffer wrote a column on this page and questioned whether Manchester United would finish in the top four at the end of the 2012-13 campaign. He ended up with egg all over his face because in May 2013, United finished the season runaway leaders.

So what did I know? I was proved to be conclusively wrong and the fact United finished 11 points clear demonstrated just how wrong I was. I retreated into a dark corner, but not quietly for, in my opinion, despite the points margin, it was the most unconvincing team United had put out for years. I seldom agree with Jose Mourinho’s utterances, but he was right in claiming the previous two were poor championship races.

United had frittered away a seven-point lead in the run in during the previous campaign and let City wrest the title on goal-difference on the last day. I thought the writing was on the wall for Sir Alex Ferguson and United. The Glazers, who bought a profitable marquee business in the shape of Manchester United, then used the club’s revenue to pay for their investment. They were fortunate in that they were able to ride on the back of Sir Alex Ferguson’s ability and experience.

Very few managers would have been able to forge 2012-13 season’s United squad into runaway champions. Of course Fergie bought Robin Van Persie to paper over the cracks of a creaking midfield and take away the focus from the fact that he and the Glazers had not recruited a great or world class player for years.

Ronaldo was sold in 2009 for £80m – providing United with a £56.5m profit on transfers that year. So the richest club on the planet lost a world class player in the summer of 2009 and two years later had not spent all of that transfer profit in player recruitment, let alone brought in a “great” player.

Fergie told us in early 2013, the current crop was the finest he had managed. I knew then it was time for him to go. United have inherited the failure of the club under the Glazers and Ferguson to properly invest in real quality, while others have outspent them. That, and not David Moyes, is the reason for United’s vulnerability which has been apparent for two seasons at least.

Ferguson kept claiming there was no value in the market, while his rivals bought Kompany, Toure, Silva and Aguero; Chelsea bought Hazard and Mata and the list of good, effective purchases is endless, while United bought a succession of back-up squad players to help out the uninspiring Tom Cleverley.

It is not fashionable to say so, but in my book, Van Persie apart, Ferguson had not bought a decent player in years and lamentably failed to replace the likes of Scholes and Keane. United’s current state is down in part to last summer’s transfer hesitation; Moyes’ tactics; the players’ failure to respond professionally but a large part of the buck should be at Fergie’s door. He had squeezed the last drop of success out of a limited squad.

Otherwise it was quite an interesting season in the Premier League although I did identify with Gary Neville when asked if he wanted Manchester City or Liverpool to take the title; “It’s like asking me to choose the man to run off with my missus.”

United fans, after humiliation at Old Trafford at the hands of City, seemed almost in agreement in the post-match Vox Pop, when asked who they wanted to win their title: “Liverpool. They have worked for it, not tried to buy it.”

I agreed with them in principle but have little care for Brendan “Don’t insult my integrity” Rodgers or his avowal that Luis Suarez is “a real gentleman”. Liverpool did work for it and have broken back into the top four by dint of management skills – the single most important quality that established Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool as forces in the game.

The “Silicones”, Chelsea and Manchester City, artificially inflated way beyond their track record, by vast injections of capital, look set to dominate. They say money does not buy you everything in football, but it comes pretty close. City had spent £930m by the summer of 2013 so we can safely assume the cost is well in excess of a billion.

At least they play decent football.

Mourinho’s Chelsea remain the most boring of the leading sides, often resorting to parasite football, as was the successful case at Liverpool and enabled the pendulum to swing City’s way. Mourinho had spent £207m in his first stint at Stamford Bridge, more than any other club, apart from City.

What sickens me is that Mourinho spends this money, calls himself “Special” and plays restrictive, non-expansive football. And before Chelsea fans counter it is all about winning, style is what you remember when the results fade. In that department, Chelsea and Mourinho have yet to register positively.

Chelsea and Manchester City have caused the wages and transfer prices to rise every year and we have to read the likes of Martin Samuel claiming Fair Play is not fair.

“Any successful business wants to invest, and Fair Play is stopping City investing,” he prattled on television the other week, clearly forgetting any other business has to borrow money to invest and pay it back. City had £400m of debts paid off when the current regime took over and they will continue to bankroll the club beyond the reaches of others, unless Fair Play keeps them on a tighter leash.

It is easy to admire the achievements of Guy Poyet, Sean Dyche, Tony Pulis, Nigel Pearson and company, who work successfully and effectively in less rarefied climes.

It is good that Roy Hodgson has included many promising younger players in his England World Cup squad. If he uses them and fails, he will be told he should have kept faith with experience. If he goes for experience, he will be told by Fleet Street, he should have given the younger ones their head.

Hodgson can’t win but then I suspect he, along with any level-headed fan, knows that.

This article was first published in the Watford Observer on Friday, May 23.

Comments (25)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:34pm Sun 1 Jun 14

SwSxTeMPaaH says...

What a lovely article about Watford FC.....
What a lovely article about Watford FC..... SwSxTeMPaaH
  • Score: 21

12:59pm Sun 1 Jun 14

MainStandShambles says...

SwSxTeMPaaH wrote:
What a lovely article about Watford FC.....
Well it is the close season when football clubs have holidays and it's better than staring at a blank space...........isn'
t it?
[quote][p][bold]SwSxTeMPaaH[/bold] wrote: What a lovely article about Watford FC.....[/p][/quote]Well it is the close season when football clubs have holidays and it's better than staring at a blank space...........isn' t it? MainStandShambles
  • Score: -10

1:35pm Sun 1 Jun 14

SJM...laugh at luton says...

The good old days with Oliver...
The good old days with Oliver... SJM...laugh at luton
  • Score: 7

1:42pm Sun 1 Jun 14

SwSxTeMPaaH says...

MainStandShambles wrote:
SwSxTeMPaaH wrote:
What a lovely article about Watford FC.....
Well it is the close season when football clubs have holidays and it's better than staring at a blank space...........isn'

t it?
No you're right, I love spending my days reading about Manchester United.
[quote][p][bold]MainStandShambles[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SwSxTeMPaaH[/bold] wrote: What a lovely article about Watford FC.....[/p][/quote]Well it is the close season when football clubs have holidays and it's better than staring at a blank space...........isn' t it?[/p][/quote]No you're right, I love spending my days reading about Manchester United. SwSxTeMPaaH
  • Score: 19

2:06pm Sun 1 Jun 14

Banjo says...

SwSxTeMPaaH wrote:
MainStandShambles wrote:
SwSxTeMPaaH wrote:
What a lovely article about Watford FC.....
Well it is the close season when football clubs have holidays and it's better than staring at a blank space...........isn'


t it?
No you're right, I love spending my days reading about Manchester United.
it was pretty apparent early on in the article that it wasn't about Watford so maybe stop reading when you realise that.
or didn't you figure that out until it was too late?
[quote][p][bold]SwSxTeMPaaH[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MainStandShambles[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SwSxTeMPaaH[/bold] wrote: What a lovely article about Watford FC.....[/p][/quote]Well it is the close season when football clubs have holidays and it's better than staring at a blank space...........isn' t it?[/p][/quote]No you're right, I love spending my days reading about Manchester United.[/p][/quote]it was pretty apparent early on in the article that it wasn't about Watford so maybe stop reading when you realise that. or didn't you figure that out until it was too late? Banjo
  • Score: 0

2:24pm Sun 1 Jun 14

LifeLongHornet says...

Would much rather hear about where the Watford players have gone on holiday if they really can't think of anything to say.
Would much rather hear about where the Watford players have gone on holiday if they really can't think of anything to say. LifeLongHornet
  • Score: 9

2:28pm Sun 1 Jun 14

VOReason says...

Oliver Phillips = ****
Oliver Phillips = **** VOReason
  • Score: -9

2:29pm Sun 1 Jun 14

VOReason says...

How is **** a rude word? I **** my finger with a needle!
How is **** a rude word? I **** my finger with a needle! VOReason
  • Score: -5

2:30pm Sun 1 Jun 14

VOReason says...

Pri ck p rick pr ick pric k
Pri ck p rick pr ick pric k VOReason
  • Score: -8

3:21pm Sun 1 Jun 14

cliff46 says...

I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?
I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season? cliff46
  • Score: 21

4:23pm Sun 1 Jun 14

VOReason says...

cliff46 wrote:
I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?
Fabbrini performed with guile and elegance I'm sure!
[quote][p][bold]cliff46[/bold] wrote: I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?[/p][/quote]Fabbrini performed with guile and elegance I'm sure! VOReason
  • Score: -3

4:30pm Sun 1 Jun 14

PozzoHornet says...

cliff46 wrote:
I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?
Doubt it. As Deeney said, they'll definitely be here for a week, but I imagine they'll go back to Udinese and Granada respectively, simply because it's easier for them. Fabbrini will almost certainly be loaned out to a Serie B side and Iriney may go back into the Granada team or be loaned out. Judging by his inability to hold down a starting place in a struggling Mallorca team, I suggest the latter is more probable. Not sure what's gonna happen to Acuna, but, despite his indifferent form, they like him at Osasuna, who just got relegated, and he has previous form in the Segunda, so I can see him being sold to them. Bit of a shame imo, always thought he was decent and I think he's Beppe's type of player as well - his hard work could go well alongside Ranegie's more relaxed style assuming Deeney goes. Oh well, good luck to them all wherever they go.
[quote][p][bold]cliff46[/bold] wrote: I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?[/p][/quote]Doubt it. As Deeney said, they'll definitely be here for a week, but I imagine they'll go back to Udinese and Granada respectively, simply because it's easier for them. Fabbrini will almost certainly be loaned out to a Serie B side and Iriney may go back into the Granada team or be loaned out. Judging by his inability to hold down a starting place in a struggling Mallorca team, I suggest the latter is more probable. Not sure what's gonna happen to Acuna, but, despite his indifferent form, they like him at Osasuna, who just got relegated, and he has previous form in the Segunda, so I can see him being sold to them. Bit of a shame imo, always thought he was decent and I think he's Beppe's type of player as well - his hard work could go well alongside Ranegie's more relaxed style assuming Deeney goes. Oh well, good luck to them all wherever they go. PozzoHornet
  • Score: 11

4:33pm Sun 1 Jun 14

Bush Hornet says...

Well done Ollie Phillips. If journalists don't use their position to berate an egotistical pain in the butt like Mourinho once in a while, and remind us all how fake Chelsea and Man City are, then they have nothing worthwhile to say. I'm not in the Ollie fan club but I agree with everything in this article. It may not be about Watford but read the subtext: we support a real club and Martin Samuels is a dick.
Well done Ollie Phillips. If journalists don't use their position to berate an egotistical pain in the butt like Mourinho once in a while, and remind us all how fake Chelsea and Man City are, then they have nothing worthwhile to say. I'm not in the Ollie fan club but I agree with everything in this article. It may not be about Watford but read the subtext: we support a real club and Martin Samuels is a dick. Bush Hornet
  • Score: 19

5:02pm Sun 1 Jun 14

cliff46 says...

PozzoHornet wrote:
cliff46 wrote:
I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?
Doubt it. As Deeney said, they'll definitely be here for a week, but I imagine they'll go back to Udinese and Granada respectively, simply because it's easier for them. Fabbrini will almost certainly be loaned out to a Serie B side and Iriney may go back into the Granada team or be loaned out. Judging by his inability to hold down a starting place in a struggling Mallorca team, I suggest the latter is more probable. Not sure what's gonna happen to Acuna, but, despite his indifferent form, they like him at Osasuna, who just got relegated, and he has previous form in the Segunda, so I can see him being sold to them. Bit of a shame imo, always thought he was decent and I think he's Beppe's type of player as well - his hard work could go well alongside Ranegie's more relaxed style assuming Deeney goes. Oh well, good luck to them all wherever they go.
I had forgotten Acuna. Thanks for your interesting comments which in my view reinforce the need for the wobbly to provide a detailed update on the less obvious squad members.
That could include various stats re appearances etc for our on loan players in Europe and the UK
[quote][p][bold]PozzoHornet[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]cliff46[/bold] wrote: I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?[/p][/quote]Doubt it. As Deeney said, they'll definitely be here for a week, but I imagine they'll go back to Udinese and Granada respectively, simply because it's easier for them. Fabbrini will almost certainly be loaned out to a Serie B side and Iriney may go back into the Granada team or be loaned out. Judging by his inability to hold down a starting place in a struggling Mallorca team, I suggest the latter is more probable. Not sure what's gonna happen to Acuna, but, despite his indifferent form, they like him at Osasuna, who just got relegated, and he has previous form in the Segunda, so I can see him being sold to them. Bit of a shame imo, always thought he was decent and I think he's Beppe's type of player as well - his hard work could go well alongside Ranegie's more relaxed style assuming Deeney goes. Oh well, good luck to them all wherever they go.[/p][/quote]I had forgotten Acuna. Thanks for your interesting comments which in my view reinforce the need for the wobbly to provide a detailed update on the less obvious squad members. That could include various stats re appearances etc for our on loan players in Europe and the UK cliff46
  • Score: 2

5:52pm Sun 1 Jun 14

andyandyandy says...

I couldn't care less about Man U. Waste of paper, waste if time. Who cares
I couldn't care less about Man U. Waste of paper, waste if time. Who cares andyandyandy
  • Score: 13

5:54pm Sun 1 Jun 14

lutondown says...

cliff46 wrote:
I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?
Think you're right
Another self indulgent load of tripe from Philips.
At the EOS awards his speech was as self congratulatory
As they come.
We want to read about Watford not Machester Utd or
How good the wine is in Provence FFS
[quote][p][bold]cliff46[/bold] wrote: I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?[/p][/quote]Think you're right Another self indulgent load of tripe from Philips. At the EOS awards his speech was as self congratulatory As they come. We want to read about Watford not Machester Utd or How good the wine is in Provence FFS lutondown
  • Score: 4

5:54pm Sun 1 Jun 14

lutondown says...

cliff46 wrote:
I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?
Think you're right
Another self indulgent load of tripe from Philips.
At the EOS awards his speech was as self congratulatory
As they come.
We want to read about Watford not Machester Utd or
How good the wine is in Provence FFS
[quote][p][bold]cliff46[/bold] wrote: I would rather read an article telling us how players such as Fabbrini and Ireney performed for the clubs they were loaned to. Last season, I think they both have permanent contracts with us so presumably will be bck for pre season?[/p][/quote]Think you're right Another self indulgent load of tripe from Philips. At the EOS awards his speech was as self congratulatory As they come. We want to read about Watford not Machester Utd or How good the wine is in Provence FFS lutondown
  • Score: -1

6:48pm Sun 1 Jun 14

PozzoHornet says...

Not particularly sure how those ramblings at the end about Hodgson have anything to do with Man U. In fact what has any of this got to do with Watford anyway?

But on the subject of Mourinho's defensive style, one has to understand that this is a result of a lack of personnel, and not a choice Mourinho would make if the squad he had was a better footballing side than Liverpool or City. The bus parking is also only ever used in the big games by the way.

I disagree with your argument regarding style as well. Of course one remembers the great attacking styles of Ajax in the 70s and Barca during the Cruyff era up until today. But equally as important and well remembered are Catenaccio and Sacchi's pressing game.

For instance, the Dutch's complete and utter commitment to total football has proved their undoing in loads of finals and is the reason they have never won a World Cup. The possession game is easy to plan against. It always has been and always will be. The problem with that style of play is that it is only successful if you have world class players against a team that either doesn't have the quality to out pass them, doesn't have the stamina to out press them, or doesn't have the organisation to out defend them. If you have any of those three things in your team you can beat possession football, and the easiest two of those to acquire are the latter two. This is what Mourinho does when he knows the opposing team has better quality players, because that is the way to win, and I personally find it just as exciting to see a tense game that is territorially dominated by one team as a goalscoring game that is evenly matched, because it has the same drama. I find it a much more palatable prospect than a predictable walkover by the team with the better players, which is what would happen if such tactics weren't used. So, imo, they're actually quite entertaining.

One final point. I've noticed that criticism of Mourinho's tactics and style has only become widespread since the Atleti semi-final and the Liverpool game. For some reason no-one really noticed or cared before these events. At least not enough to write about it anyway. I don't know if this is just among journalists or whether the general public didn't remember the 2010 Champions League Final. My theory is that once Mourinho made himself the panto villain after the Sunderland game to deflect media attention from his players' poor performance (which he did very effectively) the media and general public has gone on a witch hunt and started criticising every facet of his personality, yourself included Oliver. For example, I don't understand why you're criticising him for a comment made 10 years ago after he won the Champions League with a highly unfancied Porto side. His ego was obviously going to be very inflated at the time, a point which he himself made in the interview! Watch it again if you don't believe me. He hasn't called himself special or made any allusions using words to that effect since. Get over it. What he did say however, is that he didn't have the personnel to win the league at his disposal. He said that from the beginning right through to the end, and you can't criticise his restrictive, non-expansive football, because he won the games in which he used it. For my money, if his players *were* better and more consistent on the attacking side of things, they would have won the league easily, but unfortunately for Chelsea, they didn't/couldn't sign a top striker. That's why they failed this season, not because of Mourinho's style.

Sorry for the essay by the way. Day time TV is very boring.
Not particularly sure how those ramblings at the end about Hodgson have anything to do with Man U. In fact what has any of this got to do with Watford anyway? But on the subject of Mourinho's defensive style, one has to understand that this is a result of a lack of personnel, and not a choice Mourinho would make if the squad he had was a better footballing side than Liverpool or City. The bus parking is also only ever used in the big games by the way. I disagree with your argument regarding style as well. Of course one remembers the great attacking styles of Ajax in the 70s and Barca during the Cruyff era up until today. But equally as important and well remembered are Catenaccio and Sacchi's pressing game. For instance, the Dutch's complete and utter commitment to total football has proved their undoing in loads of finals and is the reason they have never won a World Cup. The possession game is easy to plan against. It always has been and always will be. The problem with that style of play is that it is only successful if you have world class players against a team that either doesn't have the quality to out pass them, doesn't have the stamina to out press them, or doesn't have the organisation to out defend them. If you have any of those three things in your team you can beat possession football, and the easiest two of those to acquire are the latter two. This is what Mourinho does when he knows the opposing team has better quality players, because that is the way to win, and I personally find it just as exciting to see a tense game that is territorially dominated by one team as a goalscoring game that is evenly matched, because it has the same drama. I find it a much more palatable prospect than a predictable walkover by the team with the better players, which is what would happen if such tactics weren't used. So, imo, they're actually quite entertaining. One final point. I've noticed that criticism of Mourinho's tactics and style has only become widespread since the Atleti semi-final and the Liverpool game. For some reason no-one really noticed or cared before these events. At least not enough to write about it anyway. I don't know if this is just among journalists or whether the general public didn't remember the 2010 Champions League Final. My theory is that once Mourinho made himself the panto villain after the Sunderland game to deflect media attention from his players' poor performance (which he did very effectively) the media and general public has gone on a witch hunt and started criticising every facet of his personality, yourself included Oliver. For example, I don't understand why you're criticising him for a comment made 10 years ago after he won the Champions League with a highly unfancied Porto side. His ego was obviously going to be very inflated at the time, a point which he himself made in the interview! Watch it again if you don't believe me. He hasn't called himself special or made any allusions using words to that effect since. Get over it. What he did say however, is that he didn't have the personnel to win the league at his disposal. He said that from the beginning right through to the end, and you can't criticise his restrictive, non-expansive football, because he won the games in which he used it. For my money, if his players *were* better and more consistent on the attacking side of things, they would have won the league easily, but unfortunately for Chelsea, they didn't/couldn't sign a top striker. That's why they failed this season, not because of Mourinho's style. Sorry for the essay by the way. Day time TV is very boring. PozzoHornet
  • Score: 0

7:30pm Sun 1 Jun 14

SAHornet says...

PozzoHornet wrote:
Not particularly sure how those ramblings at the end about Hodgson have anything to do with Man U. In fact what has any of this got to do with Watford anyway?

But on the subject of Mourinho's defensive style, one has to understand that this is a result of a lack of personnel, and not a choice Mourinho would make if the squad he had was a better footballing side than Liverpool or City. The bus parking is also only ever used in the big games by the way.

I disagree with your argument regarding style as well. Of course one remembers the great attacking styles of Ajax in the 70s and Barca during the Cruyff era up until today. But equally as important and well remembered are Catenaccio and Sacchi's pressing game.

For instance, the Dutch's complete and utter commitment to total football has proved their undoing in loads of finals and is the reason they have never won a World Cup. The possession game is easy to plan against. It always has been and always will be. The problem with that style of play is that it is only successful if you have world class players against a team that either doesn't have the quality to out pass them, doesn't have the stamina to out press them, or doesn't have the organisation to out defend them. If you have any of those three things in your team you can beat possession football, and the easiest two of those to acquire are the latter two. This is what Mourinho does when he knows the opposing team has better quality players, because that is the way to win, and I personally find it just as exciting to see a tense game that is territorially dominated by one team as a goalscoring game that is evenly matched, because it has the same drama. I find it a much more palatable prospect than a predictable walkover by the team with the better players, which is what would happen if such tactics weren't used. So, imo, they're actually quite entertaining.

One final point. I've noticed that criticism of Mourinho's tactics and style has only become widespread since the Atleti semi-final and the Liverpool game. For some reason no-one really noticed or cared before these events. At least not enough to write about it anyway. I don't know if this is just among journalists or whether the general public didn't remember the 2010 Champions League Final. My theory is that once Mourinho made himself the panto villain after the Sunderland game to deflect media attention from his players' poor performance (which he did very effectively) the media and general public has gone on a witch hunt and started criticising every facet of his personality, yourself included Oliver. For example, I don't understand why you're criticising him for a comment made 10 years ago after he won the Champions League with a highly unfancied Porto side. His ego was obviously going to be very inflated at the time, a point which he himself made in the interview! Watch it again if you don't believe me. He hasn't called himself special or made any allusions using words to that effect since. Get over it. What he did say however, is that he didn't have the personnel to win the league at his disposal. He said that from the beginning right through to the end, and you can't criticise his restrictive, non-expansive football, because he won the games in which he used it. For my money, if his players *were* better and more consistent on the attacking side of things, they would have won the league easily, but unfortunately for Chelsea, they didn't/couldn't sign a top striker. That's why they failed this season, not because of Mourinho's style.

Sorry for the essay by the way. Day time TV is very boring.
Your contribution is as boring as the article mate. What a waste of a decent Sunday !
[quote][p][bold]PozzoHornet[/bold] wrote: Not particularly sure how those ramblings at the end about Hodgson have anything to do with Man U. In fact what has any of this got to do with Watford anyway? But on the subject of Mourinho's defensive style, one has to understand that this is a result of a lack of personnel, and not a choice Mourinho would make if the squad he had was a better footballing side than Liverpool or City. The bus parking is also only ever used in the big games by the way. I disagree with your argument regarding style as well. Of course one remembers the great attacking styles of Ajax in the 70s and Barca during the Cruyff era up until today. But equally as important and well remembered are Catenaccio and Sacchi's pressing game. For instance, the Dutch's complete and utter commitment to total football has proved their undoing in loads of finals and is the reason they have never won a World Cup. The possession game is easy to plan against. It always has been and always will be. The problem with that style of play is that it is only successful if you have world class players against a team that either doesn't have the quality to out pass them, doesn't have the stamina to out press them, or doesn't have the organisation to out defend them. If you have any of those three things in your team you can beat possession football, and the easiest two of those to acquire are the latter two. This is what Mourinho does when he knows the opposing team has better quality players, because that is the way to win, and I personally find it just as exciting to see a tense game that is territorially dominated by one team as a goalscoring game that is evenly matched, because it has the same drama. I find it a much more palatable prospect than a predictable walkover by the team with the better players, which is what would happen if such tactics weren't used. So, imo, they're actually quite entertaining. One final point. I've noticed that criticism of Mourinho's tactics and style has only become widespread since the Atleti semi-final and the Liverpool game. For some reason no-one really noticed or cared before these events. At least not enough to write about it anyway. I don't know if this is just among journalists or whether the general public didn't remember the 2010 Champions League Final. My theory is that once Mourinho made himself the panto villain after the Sunderland game to deflect media attention from his players' poor performance (which he did very effectively) the media and general public has gone on a witch hunt and started criticising every facet of his personality, yourself included Oliver. For example, I don't understand why you're criticising him for a comment made 10 years ago after he won the Champions League with a highly unfancied Porto side. His ego was obviously going to be very inflated at the time, a point which he himself made in the interview! Watch it again if you don't believe me. He hasn't called himself special or made any allusions using words to that effect since. Get over it. What he did say however, is that he didn't have the personnel to win the league at his disposal. He said that from the beginning right through to the end, and you can't criticise his restrictive, non-expansive football, because he won the games in which he used it. For my money, if his players *were* better and more consistent on the attacking side of things, they would have won the league easily, but unfortunately for Chelsea, they didn't/couldn't sign a top striker. That's why they failed this season, not because of Mourinho's style. Sorry for the essay by the way. Day time TV is very boring.[/p][/quote]Your contribution is as boring as the article mate. What a waste of a decent Sunday ! SAHornet
  • Score: 2

10:34pm Sun 1 Jun 14

PozzoHornet says...

SAHornet wrote:
PozzoHornet wrote:
Not particularly sure how those ramblings at the end about Hodgson have anything to do with Man U. In fact what has any of this got to do with Watford anyway?

But on the subject of Mourinho's defensive style, one has to understand that this is a result of a lack of personnel, and not a choice Mourinho would make if the squad he had was a better footballing side than Liverpool or City. The bus parking is also only ever used in the big games by the way.

I disagree with your argument regarding style as well. Of course one remembers the great attacking styles of Ajax in the 70s and Barca during the Cruyff era up until today. But equally as important and well remembered are Catenaccio and Sacchi's pressing game.

For instance, the Dutch's complete and utter commitment to total football has proved their undoing in loads of finals and is the reason they have never won a World Cup. The possession game is easy to plan against. It always has been and always will be. The problem with that style of play is that it is only successful if you have world class players against a team that either doesn't have the quality to out pass them, doesn't have the stamina to out press them, or doesn't have the organisation to out defend them. If you have any of those three things in your team you can beat possession football, and the easiest two of those to acquire are the latter two. This is what Mourinho does when he knows the opposing team has better quality players, because that is the way to win, and I personally find it just as exciting to see a tense game that is territorially dominated by one team as a goalscoring game that is evenly matched, because it has the same drama. I find it a much more palatable prospect than a predictable walkover by the team with the better players, which is what would happen if such tactics weren't used. So, imo, they're actually quite entertaining.

One final point. I've noticed that criticism of Mourinho's tactics and style has only become widespread since the Atleti semi-final and the Liverpool game. For some reason no-one really noticed or cared before these events. At least not enough to write about it anyway. I don't know if this is just among journalists or whether the general public didn't remember the 2010 Champions League Final. My theory is that once Mourinho made himself the panto villain after the Sunderland game to deflect media attention from his players' poor performance (which he did very effectively) the media and general public has gone on a witch hunt and started criticising every facet of his personality, yourself included Oliver. For example, I don't understand why you're criticising him for a comment made 10 years ago after he won the Champions League with a highly unfancied Porto side. His ego was obviously going to be very inflated at the time, a point which he himself made in the interview! Watch it again if you don't believe me. He hasn't called himself special or made any allusions using words to that effect since. Get over it. What he did say however, is that he didn't have the personnel to win the league at his disposal. He said that from the beginning right through to the end, and you can't criticise his restrictive, non-expansive football, because he won the games in which he used it. For my money, if his players *were* better and more consistent on the attacking side of things, they would have won the league easily, but unfortunately for Chelsea, they didn't/couldn't sign a top striker. That's why they failed this season, not because of Mourinho's style.

Sorry for the essay by the way. Day time TV is very boring.
Your contribution is as boring as the article mate. What a waste of a decent Sunday !
Fair enough, but it didn't take that long mate! 10 mins maybe. Also raises the question: If the article is boring, why read the comments? As much a waste of time for you as writing this was for me.
[quote][p][bold]SAHornet[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]PozzoHornet[/bold] wrote: Not particularly sure how those ramblings at the end about Hodgson have anything to do with Man U. In fact what has any of this got to do with Watford anyway? But on the subject of Mourinho's defensive style, one has to understand that this is a result of a lack of personnel, and not a choice Mourinho would make if the squad he had was a better footballing side than Liverpool or City. The bus parking is also only ever used in the big games by the way. I disagree with your argument regarding style as well. Of course one remembers the great attacking styles of Ajax in the 70s and Barca during the Cruyff era up until today. But equally as important and well remembered are Catenaccio and Sacchi's pressing game. For instance, the Dutch's complete and utter commitment to total football has proved their undoing in loads of finals and is the reason they have never won a World Cup. The possession game is easy to plan against. It always has been and always will be. The problem with that style of play is that it is only successful if you have world class players against a team that either doesn't have the quality to out pass them, doesn't have the stamina to out press them, or doesn't have the organisation to out defend them. If you have any of those three things in your team you can beat possession football, and the easiest two of those to acquire are the latter two. This is what Mourinho does when he knows the opposing team has better quality players, because that is the way to win, and I personally find it just as exciting to see a tense game that is territorially dominated by one team as a goalscoring game that is evenly matched, because it has the same drama. I find it a much more palatable prospect than a predictable walkover by the team with the better players, which is what would happen if such tactics weren't used. So, imo, they're actually quite entertaining. One final point. I've noticed that criticism of Mourinho's tactics and style has only become widespread since the Atleti semi-final and the Liverpool game. For some reason no-one really noticed or cared before these events. At least not enough to write about it anyway. I don't know if this is just among journalists or whether the general public didn't remember the 2010 Champions League Final. My theory is that once Mourinho made himself the panto villain after the Sunderland game to deflect media attention from his players' poor performance (which he did very effectively) the media and general public has gone on a witch hunt and started criticising every facet of his personality, yourself included Oliver. For example, I don't understand why you're criticising him for a comment made 10 years ago after he won the Champions League with a highly unfancied Porto side. His ego was obviously going to be very inflated at the time, a point which he himself made in the interview! Watch it again if you don't believe me. He hasn't called himself special or made any allusions using words to that effect since. Get over it. What he did say however, is that he didn't have the personnel to win the league at his disposal. He said that from the beginning right through to the end, and you can't criticise his restrictive, non-expansive football, because he won the games in which he used it. For my money, if his players *were* better and more consistent on the attacking side of things, they would have won the league easily, but unfortunately for Chelsea, they didn't/couldn't sign a top striker. That's why they failed this season, not because of Mourinho's style. Sorry for the essay by the way. Day time TV is very boring.[/p][/quote]Your contribution is as boring as the article mate. What a waste of a decent Sunday ![/p][/quote]Fair enough, but it didn't take that long mate! 10 mins maybe. Also raises the question: If the article is boring, why read the comments? As much a waste of time for you as writing this was for me. PozzoHornet
  • Score: 0

3:35am Mon 2 Jun 14

Buenos Aires Hornet says...

Pretty disappointed to see this article on this site. It's people like Fergie and Wenger playing 2nd string teams that have devalued the League and FA Cup. Even worse, what gets up my nose is Fergie and Man Utd pulling out of playing in the FA Cup to play a Mickey Mouse tournament in Brazil was a big F-U to all clubs in clubs that play in the FA Cup.
Pretty disappointed to see this article on this site. It's people like Fergie and Wenger playing 2nd string teams that have devalued the League and FA Cup. Even worse, what gets up my nose is Fergie and Man Utd pulling out of playing in the FA Cup to play a Mickey Mouse tournament in Brazil was a big F-U to all clubs in clubs that play in the FA Cup. Buenos Aires Hornet
  • Score: 7

6:40am Mon 2 Jun 14

endean2 says...

Oh gawd, roll on next season cannot listen to this rubbish.
Oh gawd, roll on next season cannot listen to this rubbish. endean2
  • Score: 2

8:07am Mon 2 Jun 14

SAHornet says...

PozzoHornet wrote:
SAHornet wrote:
PozzoHornet wrote:
Not particularly sure how those ramblings at the end about Hodgson have anything to do with Man U. In fact what has any of this got to do with Watford anyway?

But on the subject of Mourinho's defensive style, one has to understand that this is a result of a lack of personnel, and not a choice Mourinho would make if the squad he had was a better footballing side than Liverpool or City. The bus parking is also only ever used in the big games by the way.

I disagree with your argument regarding style as well. Of course one remembers the great attacking styles of Ajax in the 70s and Barca during the Cruyff era up until today. But equally as important and well remembered are Catenaccio and Sacchi's pressing game.

For instance, the Dutch's complete and utter commitment to total football has proved their undoing in loads of finals and is the reason they have never won a World Cup. The possession game is easy to plan against. It always has been and always will be. The problem with that style of play is that it is only successful if you have world class players against a team that either doesn't have the quality to out pass them, doesn't have the stamina to out press them, or doesn't have the organisation to out defend them. If you have any of those three things in your team you can beat possession football, and the easiest two of those to acquire are the latter two. This is what Mourinho does when he knows the opposing team has better quality players, because that is the way to win, and I personally find it just as exciting to see a tense game that is territorially dominated by one team as a goalscoring game that is evenly matched, because it has the same drama. I find it a much more palatable prospect than a predictable walkover by the team with the better players, which is what would happen if such tactics weren't used. So, imo, they're actually quite entertaining.

One final point. I've noticed that criticism of Mourinho's tactics and style has only become widespread since the Atleti semi-final and the Liverpool game. For some reason no-one really noticed or cared before these events. At least not enough to write about it anyway. I don't know if this is just among journalists or whether the general public didn't remember the 2010 Champions League Final. My theory is that once Mourinho made himself the panto villain after the Sunderland game to deflect media attention from his players' poor performance (which he did very effectively) the media and general public has gone on a witch hunt and started criticising every facet of his personality, yourself included Oliver. For example, I don't understand why you're criticising him for a comment made 10 years ago after he won the Champions League with a highly unfancied Porto side. His ego was obviously going to be very inflated at the time, a point which he himself made in the interview! Watch it again if you don't believe me. He hasn't called himself special or made any allusions using words to that effect since. Get over it. What he did say however, is that he didn't have the personnel to win the league at his disposal. He said that from the beginning right through to the end, and you can't criticise his restrictive, non-expansive football, because he won the games in which he used it. For my money, if his players *were* better and more consistent on the attacking side of things, they would have won the league easily, but unfortunately for Chelsea, they didn't/couldn't sign a top striker. That's why they failed this season, not because of Mourinho's style.

Sorry for the essay by the way. Day time TV is very boring.
Your contribution is as boring as the article mate. What a waste of a decent Sunday !
Fair enough, but it didn't take that long mate! 10 mins maybe. Also raises the question: If the article is boring, why read the comments? As much a waste of time for you as writing this was for me.
Enjoy reading the cut and thrust of the comments. Just thought the longevity of your comment, on a subject that was nothing to do with the 'orns, was as boring and irrelevant as the article itself. Fair enough ?
[quote][p][bold]PozzoHornet[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SAHornet[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]PozzoHornet[/bold] wrote: Not particularly sure how those ramblings at the end about Hodgson have anything to do with Man U. In fact what has any of this got to do with Watford anyway? But on the subject of Mourinho's defensive style, one has to understand that this is a result of a lack of personnel, and not a choice Mourinho would make if the squad he had was a better footballing side than Liverpool or City. The bus parking is also only ever used in the big games by the way. I disagree with your argument regarding style as well. Of course one remembers the great attacking styles of Ajax in the 70s and Barca during the Cruyff era up until today. But equally as important and well remembered are Catenaccio and Sacchi's pressing game. For instance, the Dutch's complete and utter commitment to total football has proved their undoing in loads of finals and is the reason they have never won a World Cup. The possession game is easy to plan against. It always has been and always will be. The problem with that style of play is that it is only successful if you have world class players against a team that either doesn't have the quality to out pass them, doesn't have the stamina to out press them, or doesn't have the organisation to out defend them. If you have any of those three things in your team you can beat possession football, and the easiest two of those to acquire are the latter two. This is what Mourinho does when he knows the opposing team has better quality players, because that is the way to win, and I personally find it just as exciting to see a tense game that is territorially dominated by one team as a goalscoring game that is evenly matched, because it has the same drama. I find it a much more palatable prospect than a predictable walkover by the team with the better players, which is what would happen if such tactics weren't used. So, imo, they're actually quite entertaining. One final point. I've noticed that criticism of Mourinho's tactics and style has only become widespread since the Atleti semi-final and the Liverpool game. For some reason no-one really noticed or cared before these events. At least not enough to write about it anyway. I don't know if this is just among journalists or whether the general public didn't remember the 2010 Champions League Final. My theory is that once Mourinho made himself the panto villain after the Sunderland game to deflect media attention from his players' poor performance (which he did very effectively) the media and general public has gone on a witch hunt and started criticising every facet of his personality, yourself included Oliver. For example, I don't understand why you're criticising him for a comment made 10 years ago after he won the Champions League with a highly unfancied Porto side. His ego was obviously going to be very inflated at the time, a point which he himself made in the interview! Watch it again if you don't believe me. He hasn't called himself special or made any allusions using words to that effect since. Get over it. What he did say however, is that he didn't have the personnel to win the league at his disposal. He said that from the beginning right through to the end, and you can't criticise his restrictive, non-expansive football, because he won the games in which he used it. For my money, if his players *were* better and more consistent on the attacking side of things, they would have won the league easily, but unfortunately for Chelsea, they didn't/couldn't sign a top striker. That's why they failed this season, not because of Mourinho's style. Sorry for the essay by the way. Day time TV is very boring.[/p][/quote]Your contribution is as boring as the article mate. What a waste of a decent Sunday ![/p][/quote]Fair enough, but it didn't take that long mate! 10 mins maybe. Also raises the question: If the article is boring, why read the comments? As much a waste of time for you as writing this was for me.[/p][/quote]Enjoy reading the cut and thrust of the comments. Just thought the longevity of your comment, on a subject that was nothing to do with the 'orns, was as boring and irrelevant as the article itself. Fair enough ? SAHornet
  • Score: 3

8:56am Mon 2 Jun 14

Harry's Bar says...

I thought Pozzo's post was quite interesting. Getting back to the article though I don't quite understand the first part. He admits Ferguson proved him wrong, then goes on to rubbish Ferguson. I didn't like Ferguson as a person but to criticise him in order to justify yourself sounds a bit like you've disappeared up your own backside.
I thought Pozzo's post was quite interesting. Getting back to the article though I don't quite understand the first part. He admits Ferguson proved him wrong, then goes on to rubbish Ferguson. I didn't like Ferguson as a person but to criticise him in order to justify yourself sounds a bit like you've disappeared up your own backside. Harry's Bar
  • Score: 0

10:40am Mon 2 Jun 14

bushey tales says...

It's become fashionable to deride Oliver Phillips, in particular his Gallic ramblings, and I would agree these are self-indulgent and a bit dull. However, any Watford fan of a certain age will continue to hold Oli in high regard, primarily because of the pre-internet (yes really, children) era when Friday morning's WObbler landing on the doormat represented pretty much the only weekly dose of news from The Vic, let alone match reports (some even with a photograph) from unspeakably exotic, far-off lands such as Southport, Barrow and Workington. Some weeks there were six pages of quality WFC coverage for which Oli was responsible. Maybe the irony here is that, just as with Fergie, when he 'retired' he should actually have retired.
It's become fashionable to deride Oliver Phillips, in particular his Gallic ramblings, and I would agree these are self-indulgent and a bit dull. However, any Watford fan of a certain age will continue to hold Oli in high regard, primarily because of the pre-internet (yes really, children) era when Friday morning's WObbler landing on the doormat represented pretty much the only weekly dose of news from The Vic, let alone match reports (some even with a photograph) from unspeakably exotic, far-off lands such as Southport, Barrow and Workington. Some weeks there were six pages of quality WFC coverage for which Oli was responsible. Maybe the irony here is that, just as with Fergie, when he 'retired' he should actually have retired. bushey tales
  • Score: 8

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree