Sir Alex Ferguson: Would CL Title Make Jose Mourinho More 'Special' Than SAF?

Jake Nisse@@jake_nisse_BRFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2013

Mourinho and Ferguson embrace each other before their teams' Round of 16 Champions League matchup.
Mourinho and Ferguson embrace each other before their teams' Round of 16 Champions League matchup.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

For years, Sir Alex Ferguson's success as the manager of Manchester United has led to the easy decision to tout him as world football's best skipper.

However, with the club's slew of lackluster performances in recent months, such as losses to Manchester City and Real Madrid, that proclamation may be in question. 

One manager who is doing his best to prove it wrong is Real Madrid gaffer Jose Mourinho. Despite the high probability that Barcelona will take home La Liga honors this season, Los Blancos have beaten their rivals three times and now find themselves in the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

While Mourinho and Ferguson have very different tactics and coaching styles, one thing they do have in common is their success, as shown by the graph below:

As you can see from the graph, Ferguson either leads or is tied with Mourinho in every category.

But those numbers don't tell the whole story.

Unlike Ferguson, who has stayed with Manchester United for the past 27 years, Mourinho has moved around quite a bit, coaching Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid—all in the last 11 years.

Though he certainly made a conscious decision to switch clubs with such frequency, there is no doubt that this has been a disadvantage to him, as he's had to learn the many different styles of play that these different leagues boast.

The Portuguese manager has had to adjust to the methodical passing of Serie A, physical play of the EPL and high technical ability of La Liga. Even so, he's been extremely successful already at the age of 50, an age where Ferguson had no domestic titles at United to his name.

Ferguson is 71, with 26 more years of coaching, yet Mourinho is well on pace to surpass the Scottish international. Perhaps his most impressive feat thus far is matching Ferguson's amount of European Championships—two—in 13 years of managing opposed to the United man's 39.

Winning a European Championship, or Champions League as it is known today, is an extremely difficult task for any manager or team.

Playing against the best teams Europe has to offer and keeping up to their high level of play is only just a prerequisite for teams to succeed. 

More importantly, with teams facing opposition from a plethora of leagues, they have to adjust to their playing styles all the while staying composed on such a big stage.

Aside from success, Mourinho demonstrates many similar attributes as Ferguson.

Despite their sometimes-fiery attitudes, the two managers are known as players' managers who can get the absolute best out of their squads during periods of adversity.

For Ferguson, this means willing his team to comeback victories, as an astonishing nine victories this season have come in matches with United trailing at some point.

Mourinho, on the other hand, has turned around Madrid's season, aiding them back to a respectable second-place position (they were fourth for some time) and into the semifinals of the Champions League. 

The Portuguese manager, like Fergie, has had immense success but at times without the top-notch players and resources that Ferguson has had at United.

This type of success reiterates Mourinho's role as a "player's coach," and makes his success with Porto even more impressive.

The image below, with pictures via Zonal Marking, compare Mourinho's Porto side and Ferguson's United side that both won the Champions League:

Ultimately, Mourinho, with many years of managing ahead of him, is not very far off surpassing Ferguson's achievements.

A Champions League triumph with Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Barcelona all remaining, would get him even closer, not putting him past Ferguson, though, due to his immense domestic league success at Old Trafford.

With Fergie's retirement looming in the next couple of years, "The Special One" surpassing Ferguson at some point is just about inevitable.

A decade from now should be enough for him to become the most prolific manager—ever.

(All stats and info via ESPN FC)


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