Sir Alex Ferguson explains why he’s impressed with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Sir Alex Ferguson has heaped praise on Jose Mourinho for the way he negotiated a successful Europa League campaign at Manchester United last season.

The Portuguese claimed knockout wins over Saint Etienne, FC Rostov, Anderlecht and Celta Vigo before claiming a comfortable 2-0 win over Ajax in the final.

He has booked his side a place in the Champions League – where they will face Basel, Benfica and CSKA Moscow in the group stages – as a result and was even placed on the shortlist for the 2017 FIFA men’s coach award in August.

And Ferguson, speaking at the annual UEFA Elite Coaches Forum, was quick to praise Mourinho for the way he took an often denigrated competition seriously and reaped the benefits.

“I think that the Europa League has taken on arms and legs since they made the decision to let the winner enter the Champions League,” he said.

“Jose seized on that and he was playing his best team in every round, right from the start. He deserved to win it because his attitude was first class.

“Once Jose realised he wasn’t going to win the league back home in England, his intent of winning the Europa League became greater and greater as each round came along. That was a great achievement.”

Plenty has been said about the way Mourinho skilfully guided his side to Champions League football with depleting resources and immense fatigue. It was gritty, pragmatic, meticulously calculated and, above all, typical Mourinho.

But this was more than a well orchestrated European campaign; this was Mourinho’s announcement to the world that he was back.

Many wrote him off for good following a tumultuous few months at Chelsea. His style, they said, had become obsolete in an ever changing tactical sphere. But the Portuguese’s triumph in Stockholm was a reminder to the watching world that, perhaps more than anyone, he is the

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