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Mourinho v Ferguson: Who is the special one?

by Rob Dore | March 3, 2013

Ferguson and Mourinho

By Rob Dore | Champions League opinion

This week Real Madrid travel to Old Trafford to play the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The 1-1 draw in the Bernabeu on Valentine’s Day gives Manchester United an advantage but it’s fragile one. Nothing definitive will be decided by this game, beyond who progresses through to the quarter-finals, but it is a good opportunity to compare and contrast the two best managers in the world right now.

This is a tough one.

Manchester United fans will rally behind the undeniably great Sir Alex Ferguson. ABU (Anyone but United) members and Chelsea fans will be voting for the unquestionably special Jose Mourinho. One of these two men is the best club manager in the world right now, but which one?

Before anyone starts chiming in about Pep Guardiola, you have to have managed for at least five years to be in the running here. There are other possible contenders such as the likes of Ottmar Hitzfeld and Marcello Lippi but Ferguson and Mourinho still stand out from such venerable company.

March 5, 2013 -- Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg matches, including match-ups between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford, and Dortmund against Shakhtar Donetsk at Westfalenstadion. Graphic shows match previews with fixtures, form guides, comparison of team and player statistics, and previous head-to-head records.

Ferguson rebuilt an ailing Manchester United, turned them in to champions again and has kept them at the top of the game for 20 years.

Mourinho is a master mercenary. He has managed four top European clubs over the last eleven years, achieving great success at every stop along the way.

When it comes to the trophy haul Ferguson has a comfortable lead. During his 39 years of management he has won 15 top tier league titles, 14 domestic cups, 2 Champions Leagues, 2 Cup Winners Cups, 10 domestic manager of the year titles, 1 UEFA manager of the Year and 3 Onze d’Ors.

In comparison Mourinho has 7 top tier league titles, 9 domestic cups, 2 Champions Leagues, 1 UEFA Cup, 6 domestic manager of the year titles, 2 UEFA Manager of the Year and 2 Onze d’Ors. All of this from 13 years of management and with four different clubs. If we were to spuriously extrapolate these figures out over a thirteen year period the Special One would have 21 league titles, six Champions Leagues and 27 domestic cups.

The two men have met as opposing managers a total of 15 times. Mourinho is leading with a total of six wins to Ferguson’s two, with seven games ending all square.

The Real Madrid manager also has a far superior win percentage. Over the entirety of his managerial career Mourinho boasts a spectacular 67.75% win percentage compared to Ferguson’s 58.15%.

Going on hard stats alone then Jose Mourinho is the better manager. However statistics can only tell us so much. Essentially the Special One comes in, spends some money, wins some trophies and then buggers off when things start going off the boil on the pitch or he has a falling out with the club owner. It’s not as easy as it sounds otherwise we’d see a lot more managers doing it but not staying with one club for more than three seasons will be viewed as a negative in some people’s book.

Ferguson on the other hand has built Manchester United in to one of the biggest clubs in the world over a 26-year period, not from scratch but not far off. When one successful squad starts to disintegrate he has simply built another, each time moulding them in to a winning team. Just ask Arsene Wenger how hard a task this is.

This is a little like the Messi-Ronaldo question. There’s obviously one clear winner but not everyone is going to agree.

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