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Tuesday, 12 August 2014, 19:45

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The Special Won

Gary Neville says Jose Mourinho has once again proved he is the best manager in the world at affecting big football matches.

Last Updated: 06/02/14 at 10:12 Post Comment

The Chelsea manager masterminded a huge 1-0 victory at Manchester City on Monday night, ending their prefect Premier League home record in the process and taking his side level on points with their opponents, two behind leaders Arsenal.

Sky Sports expert Neville praised the way Mourinho set up his team to nullify the threat of the title favourites and said that even his demeanour on the touchline had an impact on the result.

"He doesn't mind us praising him does Jose Mourinho. He loves the attention of big matches," he said on Monday Night Football.

"You saw him tonight and he was like the conductor of the orchestra. He walks out at the start of the match and sits on the bench before his team have even come out.

"He comes alive on big match days and that's what the best managers do. He is the best in the world at the moment at affecting big matches, absolutely brilliant.

"He thinks about every small detail, things that I don't think many would think of because he's been around the block. He's shrewd, he's smart and he calls it on.

"He's good and he knows he's good."

Way

Mourinho chose to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United in January and many were surprised by his treatment of the man who'd won Chelsea's Player of the Season award for the last two years.

But Neville says the manager is starting to put his stamp on the team and an important aspect of his success this season has been using wide players who are willing to work hard; something he feels is increasingly common at Europe's top clubs.

"You can see the way in which Jose Mourinho is taking this team," he added.

"You can see it in this last month or so; Willian and Hazard have energy, desire, power and strength. We are seeing it with our eyes. Tonight he left Oscar out because he's got players in the team like Ramires who was big tonight.

"When you put a world-class centre-forward in that team, which I'm sure Chelsea will do in the summer, you have got a real top-class team on your hands.

"Jose Mourinho has said they are not quite there yet and thinks Manchester City are still ahead of them; I can't disagree with him, but they're not far behind. They are coming on the right lines - for what he wants anyway.

"Would he tolerate a David Silva? I don't think he would. You see Willian and Hazard and the way in which they work and the work of Ramires tonight. I think Chelsea were brilliant all night.

"Full-backs have got to be wingers and wingers have got to be full-backs. There's no excuse any more. There is too much evidence in the way the game is going to say 'we will have a luxury player on the left or right'. Unfortunately not - not at the top level.

"There's a lot of evidence in the last 12 months, watching Dortmund and watching Munich and tonight with Chelsea; that's the way the game is going."

Favourites

Despite the victory, Mourinho claimed after the match that his side are not ready to win the title this season, but should be considered as favourites next year.

And while Neville agreed Chelsea could suffer for the lack of a top-class striker - Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba have scored just 11 Premier League goals between them so far - he says they are not far behind City.

He said: "I have a tendency not to believe a word Jose Mourinho says, but I actually believe him. I think the odds reflect where it probably still is at. In his mind there's that niggling doubt that he's just that little bit short.

"He was criticised earlier in the season for parking the bus in big matches, but his team are now starting to play very well in big matches and his journey is on an upward curve.

"His team are getting better, you are starting to see Mourinho-like performances but is he going to fall that little bit short?

"The bookies suggest he is and I think he possibly might because of that lack of a devastating centre-forward."

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