Liverpool's colossus and Mourinho's money plea

‘Take a walk around my centre-half, gentlemen, he’s a colossus!’ Bill Shankly grinned happily at the press conference announcing Ron Yeats’ arrival at Liverpool in 1961, imploring reporters to ‘go into the dressing room and walk round him!’

Perhaps Jurgen Klopp might be tempted to do the same with record signing Virgil Van Dijk. At £75m, a world record fee for a defender, the Dutch international certainly needs to make a huge impact.

Is it a gamble? All transfers can be called a gamble and centre halves need to be paired rather than be regarded as individuals. The young Joe Gomez or Joel Matip might be his most likely partner.

Liverpool have been slowly getting themselves in shape. From a reliance on Coutinho and Mane last season, Salah and Firminho have made it a fab four rather than just a dynamic duo. And Naby Keita arrives in the summer.

What the Van Dijk arrival and the other pieces of the jigsaw do is give Liverpool fans hope as they continue to position themselves for a real title tilt next season. If he can inspire them to second place behind Manchester City this time out, and that is a real possibility, then again it's money well spent.

If there is a wave of optimism around Anfield, there is a huge flaw in Jose Mourinho’s argument that the difference between Manchester United and Manchester City is money.

No doubt in my mind that if Pep Guardioloa was in charge of the United squad they would win the title. 

Mourinho complained this week that United can't compete financially with City.  

Where Mourinho sees players unable to execute his tactical blueprint, Guardiola would have taken a different approach with a squad Mourinho believes needs reinforcing.

Even now, it is the United squad that has the most expensive ‘superstars’ – or certainly those with the greater reputation when they joined the club. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pogba and Lukaku delivered elsewhere prior to moving to Old Trafford. Have they improved under Mourinho? That is the troubling question for the United manager. It is starting to sound like he has no patience or will to make what he has better.

City's transfer policy does involve lavish spending, but some fees have often been more eye-catching than the names. Of Guardiola’s signings only Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy – players absent with injury for much of their time in Manchester – arrived as fully-established 'stars' elsewhere.

City are ahead this season because Guardiola has developed players rather than expected ready-made talent to instantly deliver. Mourinho has increasingly come to rely on more experienced, established performers. If you want to evolve a club or a team, you don’t call Mourinho. He is a coach who navigates his way to silverware with teams that have the raw materials – something he has already achieved at United with two trophies in his first season. His reputation as a world-class coach is based on his ability to find a way to win. His legacy will be elevated if he returns to what made him so outstanding during his first spell at Chelsea when guiding players such as John Terry, Frank Lampard – who he inherited and made better - and Didier Drogba who he signed and made world-class after an indifferent first season at Stamford Bridge.

Where Guardiola is delivering in the short-term with an eye on further development, Mourinho is now about the instant hit. Players who may excel in two or three years time do not seem to be of interest as he rarely hangs around at a club to reap the benefits of their progress.

The financial power at City enabled Guardiola to create a team in the image of his great Barcelona side, but many of those he has improved were at the club. De Bruyne was an excellent player before Pep’s appointment. Now he is the best player in the Premier League. David Silva has been revitalised with a change of position in central midfield. Who else would have put him there? Would Fabian Delph or Otamendi be the players they are under Mourinho? Do not forget Guardiola also inherited an ageing squad and had to ship out and replace plenty of players.

At the end of his career I wonder how we will remember Mourinho? His methods are more suitable to what Paris Saint Germain are trying to build rrather than Manchester United so it may not be as fondly as he would like and maybe not even up there with the truly greatest of managers.

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