The former Manchester United defender says that the Scottish manager is often underestimated when it comes to his tactics and the Portuguese boss respects him more than most
By Russell Stoddart
Former Manchester United great Gordon McQueen says that Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is still a pupil when compared to the master, Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Premier League leaders go into the return leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday night as slight favourites after an impressive 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu, thanks to what McQueen says were some inspired tactical choices from a manager whom the Portuguese respects more than all others.
“There is not just a friendship between the two of them, there is a sort of master and pupil relationship,” the ex-United star told Goal.com. “Mourinho is more gracious towards him than any other manager he’s come up against – even Pep Guardiola at Barcelona.
“Fergie has managed twice as many Champions League games as Mourinho and I think he used that experience to good use in the first leg.
“It is no accident that United have been such a success story over the past couple of decades. He is solely responsible for the way the club is set up. He appointed the scouts that went out and found promising talent and then chose the coaches that made them better players.
“People talk about Fergie’s man-management skills but they underestimate his tactical acumen. You don’t win what he’s won in his managerial career with just the ‘hairdryer’ treatment and a few well-chosen words.
“Although Cristiano Ronaldo scored in Madrid, I thought United kept him quiet and that was down to getting the tactics spot on.
“Fergie kept us guessing what he had planned for Ronaldo and I don’t think anyone thought he’d use Phil Jones in front of Rafael to act as a buffer but it worked a treat.
“Rafael might have fancied his chances of stopping Ronaldo with one-on-ones but Jones did a great job denying Ronaldo the space to run at the young Brazilian.
“The one blot was Ronaldo’s goal, but no amount of tactics would have stopped his headed equaliser, he’s just so good in the air.”
McQueen believes that United will be favourites to win the Champions League if they can see off Real Madrid but it will mean players such as Robin van Persie playing for the jersey and not just the glory.
He continued: “I think it’s crucial that United are not chasing the game. It would have played into Madrid’s hands.
“United will be happy with a goalless draw, and while Fergie says he doesn’t believe it will end that way, it means they can be more cautious.
“This is the sort of stage that Van Persie craved when he joined United from Arsenal last summer, but he cannot afford to let his own personal ambitions be put in front of the team.
“He will be frustrated that he didn’t give United a first-leg win, but being a world class player is about your value to the team and he has to be a team player tonight and not be greedy. In that respect he can take a leaf out of Wayne Rooney’s book.”