The self-titled and self-styled 'Special One's visit to Old Trafford last Sunday for the Red Devils’ clash with the Toffees is an indication of how the wily Madrid boss is going to approach the Champions League first-leg game at the Bernabeu.
For all of Manchester United’s confidence, preparation and experience in the European big league, they know they are up against a manager who has won Champions League glory with different football clubs across the spectrum of Europe. Jose Mourinho is that one manager outside of England who has a solid grasp and understanding of English style football and this could prove to be the key in the high-voltage clash.
When at Inter Milan, Mourinho clearly demonstrated how bigger football clubs in Europe could be edged out of the Champions League. When at Stamford Bridge his tactical acumen saw him outwitting Sir Alex Ferguson to win the Premier League title a consecutive two years. His reign at Madrid has seen Real win the La Liga in the 2011-12 season.
With a team of exceptionally talented individuals in Real, many of them with a wealth of European as well as Premier League experience, it will be hard for them to give it away easily to Ferguson’s boys. The equally crafty Scot is well aware of this and knows that it will take a special something for his boys to get past Mourinho’s men. The likes of Xabi Alonso, Carvalho, Essien (on loan from Chelsea) and Modric would be waiting for this encounter eagerly. Others like Angel Di Maria, Ozil, Khedira, Benzema, and the peerless Ronaldo are all big-game players, with the Portuguese international especially keen to make his mark in front of his former boss.
Mourinho’s friendly visit to Old Trafford and the indication of his close relationship with Ferguson would be viewed with skepticism by many football fans both in Spain and in England. They are the ones who know how much winning this contest means to either of them.
When the moment of reckoning arrives, what they really want to see is: Who’s the Last Man Standing?