Sir Alex Ferguson had already won 3 Scottish Leagues, 4 Scottish Cups, 1 Scottish League Cup, 2 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 3 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups and 1 League Cup, when the 33 year old Jose Mourinho came to Barcelona as a member of Bobby Robson’s coaching staff in 1996. Sir Alex Ferguson ultimately retired at the age of 71, with 10 more Premier League titles, 2 more FA Cups, 2 more League Cups and 2 UEFA Champions Leagues.
Fast forward to the present, Jose Mourinho has won 2 Primeira Ligas (Portugal), 1 Taca de Portugal, 2 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 2 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia, 1 Supercoppa Italiana, 1 La Liga title, 1 Copa del Rey, 1 Supercopa de Espana and 2 UEFA Champions Leagues, and he is still just 51. With at least two decades ahead of him, Jose Mourinho has all the ingredients to become the best manager of all time.
During his managerial career, Alex Ferguson came face to face with Jose Mourinho 16 times and quite amazingly, Jose Mourinho has been able to maintain a superior record over the legendary manager. In 16 matches, Mourinho has won 7 times and lost just twice, while the remaining 7 matches have been draws. With 7 losses and just 2 wins for Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho has been the toughest manager he has had to face in his illustrious 38 year career.
Mourinho and Ferguson came head to head for the first time in the first leg of a round of 16 match in the UEFA Champions League in 2004, when Mourinho was FC Porto manager. The match saw Roy Keane sent off for stamping on goalkeeper Victor Baia, and the match eventually ended in 2-1 in the favour of Porto. The second leg was a 1-1 draw, putting United out of the competition that Mourinho’s Porto eventually won. This was Jose’s first UEFA Champions League triumph.
Right after winning the Champions League with Porto, Mourinho was hired as Chelsea manager by new club owner Roman Abramovich. Jose Mourinho began life in the Premier League with a tightly fought 1-0 win against Ferguson’s Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, with the only goal being scored by Icelander Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Later, they met again in the Carling Cup (League Cup) semi-final, the first leg ending in a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge. The second leg was the turning point, both teams having gone unbeaten for almost 3 months, and both playing full strength sides. Frank Lampard put Chelsea ahead, with Ryan Giggs levelling the score with twenty minutes remaining. Damien Duff then scored from a free kick, a goal conceded due to Tim Howard’s error of judgement, to send Chelsea through to the final, which they won.
That season, Chelsea arrived at Old Trafford as Premier League Champions. The match ended on a winning note for Mourinho, with Chelsea winning 3-1 with goals from Tiago, Gudjohnsen and Joe Cole, after Nistelrooy had put United ahead.
The following season, Ferguson managed his first victory against Mourinho in his seventh attempt, winning by a solitary goal from Darren Fletcher. The reverse fixture saw Chelsea secure their second Premier League title in as many years, with a 3-0 win, even though they required just a point to be crowned champions.
In the 2006-07 season, both league matches ended in draws, first a 1-1 draw and then a scoreless one. United became the champions, but the two sides met for the final time that season in the FA Cup final. A Didier Drogba goal in extra time stopped United from winning the double, and gave Jose his first FA Cup. The following season both sides met in the Community Shield, which United won via penalties. Mourinho was later dismissed of his duties with Avram Grant taking charge. Mourinho was later announced as the manager of Italian giants Internazionale.
With Inter Milan, Mourinho met Ferguson in the 2008-09 season, as Inter drew United in the Champions League knockout stage. The first leg in Milan was a tepid scoreless draw, while the next leg saw Ferguson get the better of Mourinho with a 2-0 win, with Vidic and Ronaldo the scorers. This was only the second, and last time Fergie beat Jose Mourinho. Next season, Mourinho achieved the impossible, and won an unprecedented treble with Inter, and decided to move to the Santiago Bernabeu and take over as the manager of Real Madrid.
In 2013, Real drew United in the knock out stages of the UEFA Champions League. The first leg was in Madrid; Danny Welbeck put United ahead before the prodigal son, Ronaldo headed in a superb equaliser. The second leg proved to be the last instance when Ferguson met Mourinho, a match filled with controversy surrounding Nani’s sending off. The match ended in a 2-1 win for Real, with Ronaldo scoring the winner. Mourinho thus saw off his last duel with Sir Alex Ferguson with a victory.
Alex Ferguson had once said that only a manager of Jose Mourinho’s calibre could continue his legacy at the Old Trafford. But with Mourinho choosing Chelsea for his Premier League homecoming, and still possessing the elite managerial prowess to become the greatest, it looks like his records after retirement will be giving every other manager “the blues”.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni