Gary Neville today warned new Manchester United manager David Moyes that he must not let Chelsea get an early lead in the Premier League, because Jose Mourinho will not let it slip.
Neville said: “You wouldn’t want to fall too far behind a Mourinho team because they would have the nerve to withstand the pressure.”
The Sky Sports pundit speaks from experience of course, having chased Mourinho’s men for two seasons back in the 04-05 and 05-06 seasons.
Mourinho made an instant impact at Stamford Bridge before he had even began his first competitive game, giving an audacious interview describing himself as ‘The Special One’, a nickname used in awe and in jest to this day. He became the centre of all English football, with his winning personality and tactical know-how, winning the League Cup and Premier League title in his debut season.
Neville added: “When he first came in, in 2004-05, we played against him on the first day.
“We’d had the experience the year before when he’d charged down the touchline and gone on to pick up the European Cup with Porto. He’d already made a name for himself. But that first season, he had an absolutely brilliant team at Chelsea.
“Make no mistake about that — Robben, Duff, Drogba, Essien, Makelele, Lampard, Gallas, Carvalho, Terry, Ferreira…
“I always think when you can name a team, you know you’ve got a great team. That was a fine side — power, strength across midfield, so difficult to play against.
“From our point of view at United, it was probably our leanest period in not winning the league from 2004-07. Going back there now, Mourinho’s got a greater challenge, but Chelsea are on the up. Everyone could see that at the end of last season.
“They won the Champions League the year before, won a trophy last season, finished strongly in the league. They’re going to be a huge threat.
“Where we lost out to Mourinho teams at United in those early years was we left ourselves too much to do.
“We weren’t slow starters but we weren’t at our peak form September to December. We got into our stride in January, February, March and on.
“The problem in the Mourinho years was we were too far behind to mount a challenge. So the critical thing this time will be to make sure you stay in contention.”
Eyes will certainly be on Chelsea and Manchester United at the beginning of next season, with Alex Ferguson’s departure and Jose’s appointment dominating headlines, and Mou will do his best to keep the spotlight off his players. Moyes is going to struggle with the Rooney saga and will rely heavily on the goal-scoring prowess of Robin Van Persie to keep up with us.
I think Manchester City will start the season well having less pressure from the outset, but it is no secret that Manuel Pellegrini has been hired to make his mark on Europe, and will struggle once the competition gets into full-flow.
The Special One to do it again..?