Monday, 10 June 2013

He's back: Mourinho's top five mad moments

After much anticipation Jose Mourinho was finally unveiled as the manager of Chelsea which sees him begin his second spell as boss of the London club. Having spent only three years with Chelsea in his first spell, Mourinho was a man who was loved and disliked by football fans all over the world. To celebrate his return to the Premier League, we take a look at his top five moments which have caused a storm in the football world over the past 10 years.

1# Touchline celebration:
The famous knee slide celebration
The moment that made the football world take serious notice of the Portuguese manager, and a moment that introduced the man to England football fans. With seconds to go in the Champions League round of 16 second leg against Manchester United, Mourinho's Porto were seconds away from an away goals defeat. But a goal from Costinha with only 30 seconds to go meant that Porto snatched the win and progressed to the quarter finals. It was Mourinho's celebration that made the headlines as after witnessing the late goal, he ran down the length of the Old Trafford touchline jumping for joy, showing his complete jubilation at what had just happened. His side would go on to win the competition beating Monaco in the final, before taking the manager's hot seat at Stamford Bridge.

2# Hushing the Liverpool fans:
Mourinho's first success and trophy with Chelsea came at the Millennium Stadium as his side overcame Liverpool 3-2 after extra time in the Carling Cup final. Chelsea went a goal down early on in the game after an exquisite John Arne Riise volley. But with only eight minutes to go, Steven Gerrard flicked a floated free kick in his own net with his head to level the game up. At the time, the Liverpool skipper had been strongly linked with Chelsea and looked likely to move to Stamford Bridge in the summer. Mourinho had been continually taunted by the Liverpool fans throughout the game, and after his side had equalised, he put his finger to his lips imitating a hushing gesture. This didn't go down well with the away fans, and Mourinho was subsequently sent to the stands where he watched the remainder of the game from the stands.

3# Mourinho v Wenger:
Throughout his three years in the Premier League Mourinho's relationships and rivalries with other managers was always well publicised. In particular the rivalry with Sir Alex Ferguson was always in the spotlight and the news. However one moment that stands out is his relationship with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Their rivalry reached a new low as in 2005 Mourinho had a dig at the Frenchman for his 'obsession' with Chelsea. Mourinho said: "I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea." Having made the comments, Wenger threatened legal action against Mourinho who later apologised and retracted what he had said. 

4# Mourinho v Barcelona:
During his time at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho came up against Spanish giants Barcelona on a number of occasions. One of these came before a Champions League game between the sides, Mourinho told press the side he was to play in the game on the following day. As well as this, he predicted the Barcelona team that would play as well. To everyone's surprise, Mourinho played the side he had said and was correct about the team that was selected for Barcelona. Despite the mind games and the effort to get into then Barca manager Frank Rijkaard's head, his Chelsea side were beaten. Onto the pitch and Mourinho was centre of attention once again as he produced another remarkable celebration. In a Champions League group game at the Nou Camp in 2006, Chelsea found themselves 2-1 down. However a late strike from Didier Drogba set the Portuguese man off into a knee slide celebration down the touchline. 

5# 'I am the Special One'
Fresh from his Champions League final success with Porto, Jose Mourinho was introduced as Chelsea manager in 2004. In his first press conference Mourinho said: "I'm not a defender of old or new football managers. I believe in good ones and bad ones, those that achieve success and those that don't. Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm a European champion and I think I'm a special one." Since this moment, Mourinho was known in the media and the footballing world as the 'special one'. His witty arrogance in interviews and press conferences made him difficult to like, but having produced so much success on the field, there's no questioning how good a manager he is.

Premier League 2012/13: Season review

It was always going to be difficult to follow up the events of last season, but despite this, we were still treated to some exciting football throughout the season of 12/13 in the Premier League. This season has also seen some of the finest players to grace the Premier League hang their boots up and retire. Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes alongside PSG's David Beckham the most notable. They were joined by Sir Alex Ferguson who after 26 years as manager at Manchester United, decided it was his time to retire from the game.

It was Ferguson's side that won the race for the title taking it back from rivals City making it 20 league titles for the Scot. United finished 11 points clear of Mancini's men making it the perfect send off for Sir Alex. City were far from the side that pinched the league title last year, with significant injuries and poor signings in the transfer window to blame. Games they would have coasted a year ago were lost and drawn with players putting in far too many inconsistent performances. The signing of Robin Van Persie was particularly crucial with the former Arsenal man the Premier League's top goalscorer for United with 26 league goals to his name. City's top marksman in the league was Sergio Aguero who only managed the 12 league goals.

Sir Alex claimed his 20th league title
With the title decided before the close of the season, all eyes were on the race for the final Champions League position. With Chelsea filling the third place, it was North London sides Arsenal and Spurs who were battling for the final position. It came down to the final game of the season with Arsenal holding the advantage. Spurs needed to better Arsenal's result to stand a chance, but with both sides winning their games, it was Arsenal who took the place, leaving Spurs in fifth and playing in the Europa League next year.

Down at the other end of the table, Wigan Athletic once again found themselves in another relegation battle. However it wasn't to be for them as they couldn't make another miraculous escape. Roberto Martinez's men will now play in the Championship having had eight years in the top flight. They were  joined by QPR and Reading, with the latter making an immediate return to the Football League. Just like the battle for the top four, there were several sides battling to keep their place in the Premier League. Most notably Newcastle United, who having finished sixth last season, found themselves in contention for the drop. Like them, Stoke City were also hovering dangerously as having had one win in 13 games during the second half of the season meant that Tony Pulis' men were dragged into the battle.

In the domestic cups, there was plenty of drama. In the Capital One cup, Swansea emerged as winners, as they overcame surprise finalists Bradford City, who had a cup run to remember. In the FA Cup, there was more surprises with Wigan Athletic the winners having beaten Manchester City in the final with a late goal. There was success for English clubs in Europe as Chelsea, under interim manager Rafael Benitez, were crowned winners of the Europa League winning 2-1 against Benfica.

The fixtures for the 2013/14 Premier League season will be released on Wednesday 19th June at 9am.

Look out for an in depth Premier League season preview on EnglishFootball4U in August as we look ahead to the 2013/14 season.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Championship 2012/13: Season Review

Moving on from League's One and Two, focus turns to the Championship and a time to reflect on a brilliant season in the top division of the Football League.

The craziness on the final day of the season was one that will take some beating, and as for the play-offs, the level of entertainment will be difficult to match. Automatic promotion, the play-off positions and relegation all needed sorting on the final day of the season with the majority of the sides in the league having something to play for.

The race for the title was settled fairly quickly as Cardiff finally secured promotion after a number of unsuccessful attempts in previous seasons. Under the management of Malky Mackay, the Bluebirds finished eight points clear of second place. It was the battle for second place though that caught the eye throughout the year as it went down to the final moments of the last game of the season. Watford and Hull had it all to play for as the latter at one point were six points clear of Watford. However after a poor run in their final few games, Hull managed to better Watford's result on the final day of the season to finish second and give Steve Bruce another chance to manage in the Premier League.

Malky Mackay guided Cardiff to the Premier League
For Watford and Gianfranco Zola, it was the play-offs. The drama continued for the Hornets as they overcame Leicester in the semi finals to reach Wembley and be 90 minutes away from the Premier League. The drama came as Leicester were awarded a late penalty in the second leg of the semi final which if scored, essentially sent them through to the final. However a heroic double save from Manuel Almunia allowed Watford to break up the field and score themselves sending their fans wild and putting them through to the final. They faced Crystal Palace in the battle for the final promotion spot, with an extra time penalty from Kevin Phillips making sure it was Ian Holloway's men who made a return to the top flight, after an eight year absence. They had beaten Brighton 2-0 over two games in their semi final.

Moving down to the other end of the table, and the fight for survival also went down to the final day of the season. Bristol City had already been relegated before the final day, as six teams went head to head to avoid the drop. Having already been relegated from the Premier League in the previous season, Wolves faced another relegation as they were beaten by Brighton to send them down to League One. They were joined by battling Peterborough United who threw away a 2-1 lead away at Palace to lose 3-2, and saw Barnsley draw at Huddersfield to end their time in the second tier of English football. The results on the final day meant that looking at the final league table, just the seven points separated third bottom Peterborough with tenth place Derby County.

Looking forward to the 2013/14 season, six new teams join the Championship. Coming from the Premier League will be QPR, Reading and Wigan Athletic, with all three teams looking to make an immediate return to the top flight. From League One, Doncaster, Bournemouth and Yeovil will join the division making up the 24 teams.

The fixtures for the 2013/14 Championship season will be released on Wednesday 19th June 2013 at 9am.