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Sir Alex Ferguson v Jose Mourinho - World's Best Managers?

Updated on May 7, 2013

Both have transformed the fortunes of the clubs they have managed for the better, and both have gone grey with the stress that comes with been a manager at the top of World Football. There can be really no argument at the moment, that Sir Alex Ferguson and José Mourinho are the two greatest living football managers, and their achievements only back this up.

Let me begin by stating that a lot of people would argue that the best living manager is not part of this article, because of what Pep Guardiola achieved in his short stint at the top at F.C. Barcelona, 6 trophies in a single season! However, I disagree that he is better than either Sir Alex Ferguson, or José Mourinho, both the only ever managers to win the top treble (Top Domestic League, Top Domestic Cup, UEFA Champions League) in England and Italy respectively. Maybe after his time at FC Bayern München, where he has yet to begin his managerial term yet, after signing a pre-contract to start in 2013/14 season, he may then live up to these two giants of the managerial world. However at this primitive stage this is just conjecture.


Firstly, allow me to start with Sir Alex Ferguson. Undoubtedly the greatest and most successful British manager ever. He started off his managerial career at St. Mirren, where he would win a solitary Scottish First Division title, before moving to Aberdeen. It is in his time at Aberdeen where he became noticed as a manager with the potential to be the best. He managed to guide Aberdeen to the pinnacle of Scottish football for only the second time in their history in his second season. He also won the SPL two further times in his seven year stay, making him the manager of currently, the last non-Old Firm team to become champions. Other successes at Aberdeen were highlighted by a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph in 1982/83 season, an amazing achievement that has been remembered to this day. He then moved on to Manchester United, who had not won a top division title in 26 years until the first 'Premier League' era title. He had vowed that he would "knock Liverpool off their perch". Liverpool, with a league triumph in 1989/90 made their English top division trophy count an impressive 18. Manchester United were stuck on 7 and even Everton and Arsenal were two ahead on the title count on 9, so for Ferguson to make his team more successful that Liverpool seemed pretty impossible at the time.

Jump forward just over 25 years and Ferguson & Man United have amassed 12 Premier League titles, eclipsing their greatest rivals Liverpool to have 19 successful title chases to Liverpool's 18, not only that but they have triumphed in Europe twice with the UEFA Champions League, won the FIFA Club World Cup, and even nurtured a young Portuguese boy in to one of the World's best players and an £80million superstar, all because of the managerial ability of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The fantastic thing about Sir Alex Ferguson's reign at Manchester United is that time and time again he has reinvented his team, whilst keeping a core of experienced talent, helping develop his squads and keep the club challenging for the biggest prizes in football at the same time as 'transitioning' the team. he never allows players to become bigger than his Man Utd project, and has an amazing ability to move players on just before they decline from their peak. Examples include, David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam and even Peter Schmeichel. He never lets players get the better of him, and what is more important, he never lets other managers get the better of him, he is the king of mind games, he invented football mind games, and no-one has ever matched up to him, no-one until José Mourinho, that is.

Sir Alex Ferguson has never been able to best José Mourinho in the battle of the mind, so nowadays they are pretty amicable, and Ferguson would rather settle things on the pitch, since he knows José doesn't succumb to mind-tricks. Because he has such a massive ego(or so he shows us), Mourinho says what he wants, talks the truth, and lets his players speak even louder with their performances on the pitch. He came out of seemingly nowhere to most non-Portuguese football fans, to win the UEFA Cup and then the season after the UEFA Champions League, against all odds in 2002/03 and 2003/04, as well as winning the Portuguese title for consecutive seasons. He was then snapped up by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to manage his club Chelsea to glory, and that is exactly what he did. He managed, with a great deal of monetary help, and an undoubted management ability, to make Chelsea English champions for the first time in 50 years, and once more the next season, although the season after he faltered slightly, in only winning the the FA Cup and League Cup, and was sacked shortly into his fourth season at the club. He then moved on to Internazionale in 2008/09 season, and won the title again at the first time of asking. He then won it again the next season, along with his second UEFA Champions League title. Real Madrid soon came calling and with that move he was unable to manage his Inter team to their FIFA Club World Cup title, although partial-credit was given to him by many of the football world. So far at real Madrid, he hasn't exactly been able to overturn Barcelona's great dominance of Spanish football, although he did win the 2011/12 La Liga title, with his side putting in some fantastic performances.

Ever since he was dismissed at Chelsea, he has always referred to the Chelsea players as 'My Boys' , and has always stated his ambition to manage in the Premier League once again, and it is a belief that this move will be sooner rather than later with relationships at real Madrid becoming fractious.


Both are tactically gifted, but in very different ways. However, whatever they do, the results have been amazing for the clubs they have managed. Sir Alex Ferguson is now synonymous with 'planning ahead', and this isn't just one or two games, no! He famously plans months in advance, and tells players who they are playing against, in what position, and to prepare for it. This is the type of fore-planning, making allowances for injuries, that has made Manchester United so successful, and allowed Ferguson to keep the team fresh throughout the seasons, giving his team scope to have an inevitable strong finish in the league, which is why they are never far away from winning the title, if they actually fail to triumph. Mourinho on the other hand, although might plan a certain few games ahead, is much more impulsive. His relationships with players can peak and trough throughout the season, because of his man-management skills. The way he selects his teams are normally through how he feels in the moment, and will even admit his mistakes early on in games if he sees his tactics are not working. He has been known to make double or treble substitutions with no more than 20minutes gone, a risky tactic if an injury or red card is picked up in the next 70-or-so-minutes. However, plenty of times when he makes such decisions, it pays off, and just shows the kind of enigmatic genius he is.

Not only the on-pitch tactics are important in top class football either. As mentioned earlier, tactics such as mind-games are important too. Sir Alex Ferguson, ever since his early Man Utd days with ambitions of 'knocking Liverpool of their perch' has made opposition managers crumble under the pressure he puts on them with nifty tactical comments and reactions. He never fully says what he really thinks, he simply says whatever he has to to put pressure on opposing players, his opposing managers, even referees and officials. One of the best examples of putting pressure on opposing managers, is when Liverpool were challenging Man Utd for the title, the closest they had been in over 20 years, under the tuition of Rafa Benítez in 2008/09, and he famously 'cracked' and produced a rant at Sir Alex and Manchester United ended up pipping Liverpool to the post and leveling on 18 titles a piece. A great testament to Sir Alex is that Liverpool gained the most points without actually winning the title ever, making Manchester United's achievement that season even sweeter and more impressive.

José Mourinho's off pitch tactics often aren't as subtle as Sir Alex's, but work as effectively, however sour the taste left in your mouth is afterwards. He has been seen fighting and brawling with his opposite numbers at Barcelona, even poking then coach, now manager Tito Vilanova in the eye. He came to the knowledge of many football fans in a UEFA Champions League game against Manchester United when he ran the length of the pitch in a game that proved to be fatal for Man Utd's Champions League chances, but that proved to become the greatest competition success in FC Porto's history. Whatever has been said about his off-pitch tactics and egotistical comments and press conferences, he has managed to be successful at every club he has been too, even Real Madrid, when he usurped Barcelona from the throne in the 2011/12 season, against many people's predictions pre-season.


Here, we are going to have a look at the trophies won by each of the managers. This is the thing that truly makes Sir Alex Ferguson and José Mourinho outshine their competitors, and both their successes are something that can not be argued against.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson :-

  • UEFA Champions League: 1998/99, 2007/2008 (Man Utd)
  • Barclays Premier League: 1992/93, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2012/13 (Man Utd)
  • UEFA Super Cup: 1983 (Aberdeen), 1991 (Man Utd)
  • FIFA Intercontinental Cup: 1999 (Man Utd)
  • FIFA Club World Cup: 2008 (Man Utd)
  • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1982/83 (Aberdeen), 1990/91 (Man Utd)
  • FA Charity & Community Shield: Shared-1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 (Man Utd)
  • FA Cup: 1989/90, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1998/99, 2003/04 (Man Utd)
  • League Cup: 1991/92, 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10 (Man Utd)
  • SPL: 1979/80, 1983/84, 1984/85 (Aberdeen)
  • Scottish First Division: 1976/77 (St. Mirren)
  • Scottish Cup: 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1985/86
  • Scottish League Cup: 1985/86

José Mourinho
José Mourinho

José Mourinho:-

  • UEFA Champions League: 2003/04 (FC Porto), 2009/10 (Inter)
  • UEFA Cup: 2002/03 (FC Porto)
  • Primeira Liga: 2002/03, 2003/04 (FC Porto)
  • Taça de Portugal: 2002/03 (FC Porto)
  • Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira: 2003 (FC Porto)
  • Barclays Premier League: 2004/05, 2005/06 (Chelsea)
  • FA Cup: 2006/07 (Chelsea)
  • League Cup: 2004/05, 2006/07 (Chelsea)
  • FA Community Shield: 2005 (Chelsea)
  • Serie A: 2008/09, 2009/10 (Inter)
  • Coppa Italia: 2009/10 (Inter)
  • Supercoppa Italiana: 2008 (Inter)
  • La Liga: 2011/12 (Real Madrid)
  • Copa del Rey: 2010/11 (Real Madrid)
  • Supercopa de España: 2012 (Real Madrid)


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