Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Mourinho's pressure point?
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

community shield
Hostilities will be resumed between Chelsea and Man Utd at Wembley

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has vowed to break the habit of a lifetime and keep a low-profile this season - a promise that is already in danger of being broken.

He has, despite the vow, already tried to land a psychological blow on Chelsea's arch-rivals Manchester United ahead of Sunday's Community Shield meeting at Wembley.

Mourinho has used the time-honoured tactic of insisting all pressure is on Sir Alex Ferguson instead of himself this season.

Chelsea's spending this summer has been modest in comparison to United, and Mourinho took the opportunity to use Ferguson's transfer activity as a tool to tighten the screw on Old Trafford's Premier League champions.

And Liverpool counterpart Rafael Benitez, arguaby an even more bitter adversary, got similar treatment from the new, supposedly speak-no-evil, Mourinho.

He said: "We know that in the previous three seasons when we spent some millions, everybody pointed at us as the team with more responsibility because we were the spenders in the market."


In Mourinho code, how about dumping that responsibility at the gates of Old Trafford this season?

It was a subtle dig in comparison to the blizzard of outbursts Mourinho aimed at Manchester United last season - from claims that new laws ensured it was illegal to give penalties against Ferguson's side to suggesting the fixture list was loaded in their favour.

But he may have had a point in suggesting the balance of pressure has switched from Stamford Bridge to Old Trafford this season.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (left) and Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson
Mourinho has attempted to turn up the heat on Ferguson

It was trademark Mourinho. Mischief-making with a mission - a mission to test Ferguson's mettle.

And Mourinho will see Sunday's Wembley showdown as the first chance to test his latest theory.

Chelsea ended the season in the ascendancy after beating United in the FA Cup Final - but United had already claimed the major prize of the Premier League.

United will have the responsibility of champions this season, and Mourinho suddenly appears to be revelling in the role of underdog.

But counterpart Ferguson has iron-clad confidence when it comes to dealing with the pressure of winning silverware, and his squad refurbishment gives his side a hugely impressive look.

Owen Hargreaves finally arrived from Bayern Munich to provide the midfield anchor and shield of protection that will serve United well, especially in ending their fragility in Europe.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Owen Hargreaves
Ferguson splashed big money on Owen Hargreaves

Nani and Anderson are two young talents who will flourish under Ferguson, while the signing of Carlos Tevez could be a stroke of genius.

Tevez's stunning performances in West Ham's fight against relegation has convinced Ferguson he is worth the time and trouble of football's most complicated transfer, wading through miles of red tape to clinch the deal.

Ferguson can pick from Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, Nani and eventually Tevez, up front.

If United are under pressure, talent of that stature is some release valve.

As for Chelsea, owner Roman Abramovich has kept his chequebook under lock and key for most of the summer.

It has allowed Mourinho to revel in his role as relative pauper while pointing the finger and cranking up the pressure on Ferguson.

He has been busy in the market, but mainly at the bargain end as he landed Steve Sidwell from Reading, Bolton's Tal Ben Haim and Bayern Munich striker Claudio Pizarro on free transfers.

Defender Alex, outstanding in helping PSV Eindhoven to put Arsenal out of the Champions League last season, will also arrive after being granted a work permit.

Mourinho has made one major signing, France's player of the year Florent Malouda, who will give his team the width he says they will have this season.

The experienced and consistent former Lyon star may provide a more reliable influence than the injury-plagued Arjen Robben.

So it has been a change of policy at Chelsea, but is this grounds for piling the pressure on United?

In Mourinho's mind yes, but he will know as well as anyone that if one manager is bullet-proofed to pressure it is Ferguson - surviving more than 20 years at United is testimony to that.

Ferguson v Mourinho
17 May 07 |  FA Cup
Ferguson backs Mourinho silence
26 Jul 07 |  Man Utd


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us