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PLAY IT SHORT: Magnificent Mourinho; Rodgers still the story; Man Utd's faceless men; Transfer stardust returns to England

MAGNIFICENT MOURINHOMagnificent Mourinho. What else is there left to say? Jose Mourinho's tactics and the willingness of his players to stick to their roles was another famous triumph for the Special One at Liverpool on Sunday. Unlike Arsenal and Manchester City before them, there was no way his Chelsea were going to succumb to Liverpool's opening ten minute swarm. The gamesmanship is being highlighted in the aftermath, but let's not forget he had Tomas Kalas making his debut and the outstanding Branislav Ivanovic pulled away from fullback to play alongside him. Throw in Mark Schwarzer, having only made his Blues debut the previous weekend, and the result becomes all the more spectacular. Brendan Rodgers will be frustrated, but he will also have admired the work needed on the Cobham training pitch for Mourinho to bring Sunday's selection together. The smiles on the away support said it all. They're with the manager. The precious ones in the media can whinge about Mourinho being sarky with them, but those Blues at Anfield know he's working for them - not the egos in the press box.

RODGERS MUST FIND PLAN BSo do Liverpool have a plan B? It's all very well Brendan Rodgers complaining about "two buses" being parked in front of Chelsea's goal, but Liverpool just didn't look like finding a way through. There was no Reds swarm in those opening 15 minutes. Jose Mourinho knew what was coming and his players took on their roles with relish. Even the manager took part, getting involved in a touchline spat with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard during those crucial opening exchanges. It wasn't until the second-half when Mark Schwarzer was forced into a save and for all of Liverpool's possession, only Joe Allen and Luis Suarez genuinely tested the Aussie goalkeeper. Liverpool are back in the Champions League next season - does Rodgers really believe teams arriving from Eastern Europe, Portugal and Italy are going to leave their 'buses' at home?

RODGERS THE COACH KEY TO LFC SUCCESSThe race ain't over Reds fans. And if Liverpool are successful in this amazing late season Premier League push, it will be the first title won without a big chequebook in the competition's history. A stunning achievement by Brendan Rodgers. Rightly so, the Ulsterman's man-management has been celebrated in recent weeks. But it's the coach inside Rodgers which has taken Liverpool to the brink of a first title win of the Premier League era. He simply makes good players better. Is there any player in a Reds shirt this season who we could say has gone backwards? Think of the doubts over Martin Skrtel, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling going into the season - compared to their status now. The secret of Rodgers' success has been his absolute devotion to his craft. Even when he was youth coach at Reading (and this was before getting his chance at Chelsea) he also played and coached Newport County part-time. Those years with the Royals followed four with Chelsea's academy. He learned how to manage young players - and also how to improve them. Despite Sunday's stumble, Liverpool have shown this season that clubs can beat the chequebook - with a proper coach in charge.

THE FACELESS MEN OF MAN UTDPlenty has been said about David Moyes' response to his sacking through the League Managers' Association. The lack of recognition for his former Manchester United players in his statement was pored over. But a week on, where is the response from the club? No word from Ed Woodward, the Glazers, Sir Alex Ferguson, no-one. No on camera interview - not even on MUTV. For United fans, no matter the feelings towards Moyes, is this really the cowardly behaviour you want from those in charge?

REED A REAL FOOTBALL MANLes Reed, the Southampton football director, showed Manchester United how it's done last week. With the media barely seated waiting for Mauricio Pochettino's pre-match conference, Reed, as a football man, took charge, delivering a statement on the manager and transfer speculation swirling around the players. It was a solid message to Saints fans and rival clubs: they're no soft touch. It wasn't done through Twitter, it wasn't a sheepish, anonymous statement released through the Saints website. This was Reed putting his reputation on the line and making clear where the club stands. The stuff of a real football man.

PREMIER LEAGUE AGAIN GLAMOUR No1The crown may've slipped over the past year or so, but the Premier League, next season, will again re-establish itself as the go-to competition for football's big names. Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa looks nailed on to sign for Chelsea - with how the Londoners will meet terms just to be ironed out. And PSG's Edinson Cavani now appears prepared to skip a year of Champions League action to commit to Manchester United. Add Sergio Aguero at Manchester City, Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney, and the Premier League will again boast the game's greatest firepower. It's been significant this season, with Liverpool and Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City leading the way, that the English game has returned to its attacking, blood-and-thunder traditions. You score two, we'll score three. More managers this season have played to win games - rather than save them. Tough for the self-proclaimed purists, but who cares?

MAN UTD LOST MILLIONS LETTING GO WHIZKID DUOWhat price a Manchester United midfield of Paul Pogba and Mats Daehli now? The reasons for Pogba's defection to Juventus are no secret. But what of Daehli? It was exciting to see this little Norwegian, still just 19, push and coax his senior teammates in Cardiff's draw with Stoke City last week. Then Sunday, before they were eventually overrun at Sunderland, Daehli again was Cardiff's best player. Bluebirds fans are witnessing the beginning of a great career. Yes, Daehli turned down the chance to re-sign for United in January, preferring to be reunited with his former Molde coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the CCS. But he shouldn't have been put in that position in the first place. It was one of David Moyes' first calls as United manager to sell the midfield schemer. Not loan him to Molde - as no doubt Michael Emenalo would've done if he was a Chelsea player - but sell him. Now Daehli, with all his invention and craft, has been lost to United. Is Ander Herrera really any better than this lad?

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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