Mourinho shows Moyes how it's done: United losing a power struggle

Manchester United have been struggling to lure talent, while they are lining up to play for Chelsea under Jose.

This week, Chelsea ratified the £21m transfer of midfield battler Nemanja Matic, returning from Benfica on a five and a half year contract.

The Stamford Bridge side's targeting of one of their former players, one they deemed not good enough three years ago, is reminiscent of Manchester United's own alleged pursuit of a player they allowed to leave for free in 2012 - Paul Pogba, yet have become frustrated due to the lack of interest on the part of the 20-year-old Frenchman.

The main difference in these stories, though, is that Mourinho is held in high esteem by Matic, who cited the Portuguese coach's influence, tactical mastery and success as a crucial factor in his re-signing with the Blues: 'It's exciting to work with him, he is the best coach in the world and I want to work with him for a long time,' he said, before intriguingly adding: 'I am ready,' as if playing under the guidance of Mourinho is as great an athletic achievement as representing Chelsea.

Pogba, meanwhile, seemingly has no intention on retracing his footsteps from Turin, where he has elevated his name and status with Juventus, back to Old Trafford, where he was discarded.

Of course, if this was an isolated incident, one could brush it off as a case of two athletes… two people… having different personalities, unique ambitions, alternative agendas.

But in the past six months, the football press is littered with stories of players snubbing a behemoth of British football - United, while others - both in West London and beyond - who praise Chelsea's two-time Champions League winning manager.

Forget about Chelsea's modern success as a giant of European football, forget about the 42,000 seater stadium, the world class training facilities at Cobham and the club's prominent placement within one of the planet's biggest cities. Mourinho is, in marketing terms, the USP here - particularly when other elite clubs can also offer similar things.

That selling point may have been what made burgeoning Brazil star Willian run from North London, where he had undergone a medical examination ahead of a prospective transfer to Tottenham Hotspur, to SW6, where Chelsea were waiting, last August, in a dramatic switch.

'My first impressions of Mourinho were really positive,' said Willian, to the official FIFA website. 'He is one of the best coaches in the world and he said that he was delighted that I had come to Chelsea, and that he liked the way I play. We talk a lot, and it’s really helping me. I’m learning so much.'

Sir Alex Ferguson was the USP during his 27-year tenure at Old Trafford but now the all-time great manager has retired, succeeded by David Moyes, who does not have the same aura, the same prestige to play for and that is potentially hurting United as the new boss attempts to create his own team - but continually fails to land the priority targets.

Thiago Alacantara rejected United's advances in order to sign for Bayern Munich, Cesc Fabregas had no intention of listening to any Old Trafford link and has since gone on to enjoy his best season to date, while Leighton Baines is reportedly ready to commit to a new contract at Everton.

The ultimate sign that United have lost a power struggle, one they are certainly losing at the moment, will be whether they can retain Wayne Rooney - a player Mourinho no doubt is waiting on.

With a contract that expires in the summer of 2015, United face the prospect of losing a £40m-rated footballer for nothing and so may be forced to cash in on their striking asset in six months, for potentially a cut-price fee.

If the number one targets continue to elude Moyes and United, while their own stars desert them, then they may be wise to look to the predecessor, Ferguson, or even Arsene Wenger when Arsenal left Highbury to reside in their new Emirates Stadium, and invest in youth.

The next series of transfer windows will test Moyes' managerial prowess to the limits, but if he passes the examination and achieves success and silverware while doing so, then he himself will be heading toward personifying the USP, like Sir Alex, like Mourinho.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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