In early December Bobby Charlton said that Mourinho is a good coach but that he was unimpressed with his antics. Yesterday, and indeed in the days before United played Real, there were none of the usual comments and antics from Mourinho. There was nothing but respect and admiration before, during and after the game.
There is a reason for this, Mourinho wants to be the next United manager. When Alex Ferguson leaves it will be the biggest job in football. Mourinho sees himself as the best manager in the game and wants to prove that by taking over from the most successful manager in the game. Ferguson is an Old Trafford legend and it will take a big personality to fill the manager’s seat when he vacates it. Mourinho is that big personality and he knows it.
But without getting the like of Charlton onside he will not get the job. This was the perfect opportunity for Mourinho and it took it well. He lauded praise on United before the game, he called them the best team afterwards and his talking behind his hand to Ferguson just before full time was because he did not want the world to know what he said, but you can be sure it was empathy with Ferguson over Nani’s dubious dismissal. He may also have out coached Ferguson, not a bad thing to do if you out coach the man whose job you covet. While Ferguson was getting angry and confronting the fourth official over the sending off, Mourinho evaluated the situation and brought on Modric. With Ferguson not reacting tactically after the dismissal, Wellbeck’s role changed as he filled Nani’s position, it gave Xabi Alonso more time on the ball. Madrid were more incisive in their passing and United failed to deal with Modric playing between midfield and attack. In a 5 minute spell United were knocked out as Madrid hit twice.
Mourinho stated afterwards that Modric won the match, which really means “my tactical decision won the match”. Mourinho still wants the world to know he is the reason Madrid won but to say it in the fashion we are accustomed to would leave a sour taste in the mouths at Old Trafford. This would guarantee he would never get the job. As it stands now, there is nobody else you could think of that could fill the seat.