SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: A not-so-special group of managers

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is no longer special.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is no longer special.
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Could anyone in all seriousness watch Manchester United play Liverpool last weekend (January 25) and believe they really were seeing the ‘best league in the world?’

Not for the first time this season a clash between two of the top six in the Premier League produced a mish-mash of misplaced passes, poorly executed shots and some laughably clumsy defending, mostly from £90 million midfielder Paul Pogba.

The laughably clumsy Paul Pogba.

The laughably clumsy Paul Pogba.

It was another example of hype over substance, from the managers as much as the players. Super-coach Jose Mourinho - the ‘special one’ remember - had to resort to hoofball (and a dozing assistant referee) to get a point after preferring to bring on pace-free plodders like Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata rather than goal-scoring athlete Marcus Rashford when chasing the game.

Not for the first time this campaign Zlatan Ibrahimovic - a player whose great success has surprised me - bailed Mourinho out, as did referee Michael Oliver’s failure to spot Rooney’s horror tackle on James Milner.

As for Jurgen Klopp, I have a feeling he will become a dud. I like Klopp the personality, but his side were ordered to sit on their lead at Old Trafford rather than searching for the jugular.

Look what happened after United equalised six minutes from time. Liverpool went on the attack and looked the far more likely to score. Why on earth didn’t they push forward for all of the second-half? United weren’t exactly set up to counter-attack.

Arrogant Pep Guardiola.

Arrogant Pep Guardiola.

We are now being asked to believe, usually by arch-suck up Martin Tyler and his Sky cohorts, that these games are as tactical as chess matches.

He’s sort of right as chess is a boring spectacle as well.

Actually I’d pay big money for a device that enables me to mute Tyler yet allows me to listen to the still-brilliant Gary Neville, but I digress.

Many would have us believe we are blessed to be in the company of so many elite managers and yet only Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino (although signing Vincent Janssen is a blot on his record) have enhanced their reputations this season.

Circus act Claudio Bravo.

Circus act Claudio Bravo.

Arsene Wenger remains the same, a man in denial about his methods having no chance of landing the big prizes for an Arsenal side easy on the eye, yet lacking a big-game mentality.

And as for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, words fail me, well except funny ones. His struggles are highly amusing, especially as they have been so avoidable.

One reason goalkeeper Joe Hart was revered among City fans was his brilliance behind such a shambolic defence.

Hart wasn’t the problem, but smart alec Guardiola knew different. Replacing Hart with a circus act like Claudio Bravo and spending £50 million on the appalling John Stones might just be the most misplaced act of arrogance in football history.

Sadly now he’s no longer a winner Guardiola also no longer seems to be a decent bloke.