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David Healy: Mourinho will be a tough act to follow

Published 21/09/2007

When I woke up yesterday morning and turned on the TV I was shocked when I heard that Jose Mourinho had left Chelsea.

I know there had been plenty of talk about differences between Mourinho and Roman Abramovich but even so Jose's departure still came as a big surprise. He's taken a lot of stick over the last few years from various quarters, but I've always been a big admirer of his.

There aren't many more colourful characters than him in the game and in my book he has been a major success at Stamford Bridge.

He won two Premier League titles, the Carling Cup and the FA Cup. Not a bad record that!

He missed out on what they feel is the big one at Chelsea - the Champions League, although let's not forget he took them to the semi-finals twice.

And this season I felt he had a decent chance of taking them one step further.

It seems that one of the main reasons for Jose going was the belief that Chelsea didn't play entertaining football.

Yes, it's brilliant to play with real style, but any manager will tell you the most important thing to do is to win.

And if you win ugly, so be it. It beats losing in a cracking game, that's for sure. Give me the win any time.

Apart from all the trophies that Mourinho brought to the Bridge, he added much more especially in terms of the things he said.

I know it rubbed some people up the wrong way, but boy was he worth listening to.

He is going to be a tough act to follow in more ways than one.

I'm sure the Chelsea players will be very disappointed that he has gone.

After all, he brought most of them to the club and he has continually backed them publicly.

But in football, when one manager leaves, you have to be professional and move on. That's the way it is for players.

Under the new man Avram Grant, they have to focus on the little matter of going to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United on Sunday.

What a match to play after all that has happened over the last couple of days.

You can bet the United fans will have a few songs to sing about "The Special One".

And United would love to pile on the pain for those Chelsea fans, still reeling from seeing Mourinho go.

Chelsea will look for a big reaction on Sunday and they will be keen to put on a show of togetherness.

It was a must see game before Mourinho left, but there's even more spice now.

As for Mourinho's future there is no doubt in my mind that he will return to management.

And you can bet your life that he will be linked with the first big team in Europe that starts to struggle this season.

When he gets that job, Chelsea fans should be prepared for headlines linking the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to that particular club.

You just know we have not heard the last of Jose.

I'm so glad Aaron is back for Sven clash

It is fantastic to see Aaron Hughes back in action.

Aaron returned from injury for Fulham last weekend against Wigan and I thought he had a terrific game in our 1-1 draw.

He's going to be an important player for us this season.

And of course he is vital for Northern Ireland.

I can't remember the last time Aaron made a mistake at international level.

I don't mean any disrespect when I say that Northern Ireland can get away with missing a few players, but Aaron is not one of them.

He is so crucial to us and that was all too clear in our last two games against Latvia and Iceland.

He's a good leader and gives players around him confidence.

I know Aaron is relishing Saturday's match with Manchester City.

So am I.

City have made a fabulous start to the season. When Sven Goran Eriksson came in and bought a lot of new players, people were questioning whether they could gel.

Well, they certainly have and very quickly.

They are up to second in the Premier League and in Micah Richards and Michael Johnson they have two very talented young players who have already made a big impact in the first couple of months of the campaign.

Richards looks a real player. He has a big future ahead of him.

For the Northern Ireland boys at Fulham and our manager Lawrie Sanchez it is a chance to take on Sven again.

I think we would all settle for the same result as that night at Windsor back in 2005.

Blues and Reds are reaching for sky

Isn't it great that Irish League football is going to be screened on Sky this season?

I think it's a tremendous boost for the game back home.

And on a personal note, I'm looking forward to watching Cliftonville's match with Linfield on Monday night.

I'm sure it is going to be a memorable occasion at Solitude and you can bet that everyone involved with both clubs will be really excited about the match being on TV.

Even in the English Premier League, players get a buzz when matches are live on Sky, so I imagine the Cliftonville and Linfield lads can't wait.

I know the season started last month and there's no doubt that all the sides will have wanted to do well in the CIS Cup, but the big one is the league championship and for many of the fans the real fun starts now.

You will not be surprised to hear that I believe Linfield are the team to beat. I tipped them a year ago to win the title and that's what they did. This season though I fancy they are going to be pushed all the way.

With Alan McDonald in charge, Glentoran are going to be major challengers. Have to say I have been impressed by what Alan Mac has done at the Oval.

He has made good signings and I'm told there is a lot of self belief in the dressing room which is going to be crucial in the battle with the Blues.

When you have a guy like Gary Hamilton in your side, you will always be dangerous. And you will always score goals.

Portadown will also be up there but the team I feel will be a dark horse for the title is Cliftonville.

They did well last season and now they will be determined to take it a step further.

The Reds have a great team ethic and I love that because it can take you such a long way.

All the way to the title? Maybe, but they'll have to finish above the Blues to achieve that and that's another reason why Monday's match on Sky is going to be interesting to watch.

Belfast Telegraph

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