Jose Mourinho v Nuno: Portguese expert gives his take
One a hot commodity, the other embattled and under constant scrutiny, this weekend’s Wolves-Manchester United contest features two Portuguese managers at different positions of the career spectrum, writes Nathan Motz.
Few may remember that Nuno was in the great Porto squads of the early 2000s which precipitated Jose Mourinho’s rise to fame.
During that time Nuno was in the shadow of one of Portugal’s all-time great goalkeepers in Vítor Baía and only featured in six matches before being sold to Dynamo Moscow.
Now the two square-off as peers with divergent reputations. Mourinho’s tenure at United, despite some successes, has been marked by an increasingly cynical temperament in contrast to the playful bravado during his first managerial stint in the Premier League at Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Nuno duly proved his worth in the Championship last season with one of the most dominant campaigns ever.
Wolves continue to play bold and compelling football, and were it not for poor finishing, especially in the defeat to Leicester, they might be looking down in the table on Mourinho’s side at present.
Profligacy aside, Nuno’s squad has not been overawed in any match this season. Wolves are improving each game, indicating the player’s confidence in their manager’s leadership and tactical nous.
Conversely, Mourinho is searching for consistency and many suggest his row with Paul Pogba combined with his inability to accept responsibility has irreparably hurt the team’s morale.
Most worrying are the unit’s defensive struggles, but United will be encouraged by their Champions League performance against Young Boys in midweek, and will still fancy themselves at Old Trafford.
Mourinho and Nuno cross paths this weekend moving in opposite directions along their career trajectory with the former intent on proving his rhetoric has not outgrown his managerial ability, the latter postured as the next candidate for the world’s biggest clubs if Wolves dazzle this season.
Will Nuno go the way of André Villas-Boas, the Mourinho-protégé who crashed out of the Premier League and out of football altogether, or will he follow Mourinho as the next Portuguese manager to take the Premier League by storm? All current indications suggest the latter.