Date:Saturday September 22 2007
With Premiership clubs falling into hands of foreign owners with questionable intentions, managers declare they won't allow them meddling in team selection and signings.
All the tributes pouring out for José Mourinho might be considered only as signs of the courtesy and diplomatic sense of other managers. And in their conscious, it may be nothing else.
However, the roles in this saga are seen in the same way by every manager who offered their opinion: Mourinho is the victim of Abramovich's unrealistic aspirations. An independent manager who refused his boss' biddings has been sacked despite the trophies he brought for Chelsea.
Sir Alex got on well with Mourinho ever since the 2005 League Cup semi-final when they shared their first ever bottle of wine. As a consequence, he offered the most glowing tribute for the departed Portuguese.
"Jose leaving is a disappointment for the game," he said. "I think that he was terrific for football and, of course, for Chelsea. I enjoyed the competition with him and I think he brought something fresh and new to our game. I just don`t know what I`m going to do with my wine now!
"What has he done? He`s been fantastic and brought unparalleled success," he added. "It`s certainly a challenge for the man that replaces him.
Arséne Wenger praised Mourinho's intelligence, David Moyes hailed the impact of the Chelsea manager. Controversial and successful figure he is, José's departure would never have provoked so many tributes had it not been for the whole phenomenon.
There is very little that a rich owner can't do with a football club. And it seems that for at least one of them, success is not enough.
I would not be surprised if, for instance, Arséne Wenger started thinking about his own position. Rumours of a takeover of Arsenal refuse to disappear but of course one might say a new owner would be mad to get rid of Wenger.
But will that stop the owner? What if Arsenal's (or Liverpool's, or Newcastle's or United's, now I come to think about it) new owner signs a Shevchenko above Wenger's head and commands him to play the new star instead of the Frenchman's recently discovered 17-year-old Mali star (it is an example only, I do not mean any particular person)? He will have two choices: obey his boss or leave.
It is very important that a good, strong manager is left alone to do his job. You could see how the pressure and unrealistic demands damaged Real Madrid in recent years. That could await Chelsea and any clubs that's owner think he's better at football than his manager. So far, the managers stick to their independence and it' clear that their simpathies lie not with the owner who did not get his wish.
Date:Saturday September 22 2007
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