THE BLOG

Mourinho vs Mancini - the Rematch

24/02/2014 17:32 GMT | Updated 26/04/2014 10:59 BST

Jose Mourinho enjoys somewhat chequered relationships with many of his managerial counterparts - and none more so than the boss of Chelsea's opposition this coming Wednesday, Roberto Mancini.

The pair are locked in a long-standing personal duel which stretches back to their time at Inter Milan, when they occupied the San Siro hot seat in direct succession to each other.

As Mourinho celebrated a famous treble win during his second season in Milan, Mancini complained that his Portuguese successor was taking undue credit for much of the work the Italian had put in before passing the baton - and there started a war of words which has rumbled on ever since.

This week, the pair meet again, as Chelsea make the notoriously difficult trip to Turkey for the first leg of their Champions League tie against Galatasaray, desperately looking to avoid an away defeat which could make life difficult for the Blues when the sides meet up once again at Stamford Bridge next month.

If there is any doubt about just how difficult the task facing Chelsea is, let's put Galatasaray's home European form into perspective.

Mancini's charges have already managed victories against the likes of Real Madrid, FC Kobenhavn and Juventus at the Turk Telecom Arena this campaign - and three wins from their last four home outings in this competition suggests that this is going to be a very tough 90 minutes for the visitors.

Indeed, on a personal level, Mancini holds an impressive record against his West London guests.

Six wins, a draw and two defeats against the Blues during his time at Manchester City will have him confident of adding another scalp to his recent collection - and the importance that Galatasaray place on success in this competition is huge.

In short, the hosts are almost totally reliant on the Champions League in order to keep afloat.

Of course, the clash of the dugouts is not the only storyline to follow as the Blues make the journey east.

Bankrolled by 73-year-old billionaire Unal Aysal, the Turkish side have secured the last two Super Lig championships - and made the headlines, by snapping up some real talent from big European clubs in the process.

The likes of Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder were both bombarded with offers from elsewhere before pitching up at the Turk Telecom Arena, and it is perhaps testament to Aysal's vision that he is willing to pay whatever it takes to bring that level of player to Istanbul.

But even their financial clout has seen them stutter somewhat this campaign, and they enter the final third of the campaign lagging some way behind leaders Fenerbahce.

Theirs is a financial model which is based heavily on chunky signing-on fees and high wages, a necessity if they are to continually attract top talent, such as Drogba, Sneijder and Filipe Melo, to what is, essentially, still seen as a second rate domestic league.

It goes without saying that those massive pay cheques leave the Cimbom looking increasingly vulnerable - and Aysal has already mooted that they face the bleak prospect of bankruptcy should they fail to make a decent challenge in Europe year on year.

Whilst their total publicised debt of €238 million is not particularly extraordinary in modern day footballing terms, it is their short term liabilities of €56 million which will be difficult to service, and will be causing headaches in the boardroom.

Aysal recently revealed that he has been in talks with a number of other elite clubs from the continent, in order to float the idea of establishing a European Super League.

The move would not come about until 2018, but it would allow sides to truly harness the full potential of the revenue to be made from those glamour fixtures - and I feel that we could see some very famous clubs looking to break away from the clutches of UEFA, and into a closed competition like that.

It is certainly a motion which appears to be gathering pace, particularly in countries such as Germany and Spain, where there is an alarming lack of competition domestically.

Bayern Munich have been sweeping all before them in the Bundesliga, and appear to have the title sewn up before we even approach the final third of the campaign - a level of dominance which is unlikely to fade for some time.

In their first half a dozen games after returning from the winter break, Pep Guardiola's side notched an incredible 22 goals - conceding just one in the process - and that underlines just how lethal they have been all over the pitch of late.

In the Spanish Primera, the emergence of Atletico Madrid as a real force to be reckoned with means that we are currently enjoying one of the most close run La Liga trophy races in years - but outside of the top three, there are rarely shock results.

We also find ourselves at a critical point for the top Spanish clubs, as a redistribution of television revenue means that they are likely to be significantly out of pocket in comparison to recent years.

Currently, each club sells their own rights, which gives the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid a massive financial advantage over the rivals.

Indeed, the top two made over 50% of the total revenue in the Primera last year - and to put that into perspective, whilst Real Madrid scooped a cool €140 million, their opposition, Granada, secured just €12 million.

Of course, in England, television rights have been sold as a collective package for some time now - so, whilst 2011/12 champions Manchester City were awarded £60 million, relegated sides Blackburn Rovers and Wolves were handed £40 million each.

The importance of that cash injection cannot be overstated - and I have seen firsthand that it is a lifeline to some clubs in the top tier, and especially those who have dropped into the Championship.

As such, I think that there would be less interest in a closed competition from the English contingent of the elite 20 - and, after all, the Premier League is the most competitive across the continent.

That is the reason why, even with just a couple of months left to play, there are still, realistically, five clubs who could yet clinch the title - and I believe that the distribution of wealth throughout the division certainly promotes that parity.

Of course, some of the clubs who are still in with a shout of securing the silverware still find themselves involved in the Champions League - and we have seen many times that this is a crucial stage of the season for them.

A win in their European fixture not only provides one foot in the next round of the competition, but also, much needed momentum - and the reassurance that the club is on track.

On the other hand, if a side is dumped out of the Champions League at this point, it can almost prove to be a catalyst for their implosion.

With Arsenal and Manchester City both going into their respective second legs at a disadvantage, Chelsea will be desperate to come through their Turkish test unscathed - and, frankly, that will be a huge achievement for the Blues.

Of course, Jose - who has had his hands on the Champions League trophy twice as a manager - never managed to secure the it during his first spell at the Bridge, and knowing him, that will be a wrong that he will be desperate to right.

Not least because the 2012 night when Roberto Di Matteo, and a Didier Drogba in lethal form, spurred Chelsea on to a Champions League success which will live long in the memory in West London.

As they line up in the Turk Telecom Arena's incredible atmosphere, pitted against their departed idol, their sole intention should be to stay in the tie. After all, not many sides visit Galatasaray and win.