Jose Mourinho, Sourav Ganguly and all-time XIs

When India toured Australia in 2003-04, David Frith, one of the most formidable of cricket historians, told me that it was the finest batting line-up he'd seen in Australia, even better than the West Indies of the 1980s.

updated: August 22, 2013 13:13 IST
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A couple of weeks ago, a much-younger colleague sent me a message, asking how I felt about Jose Mourinho being ranked a place above the immortal Bill Shankly in a website's list of the greatest football managers. I didn't reply, primarily because I felt nothing. Making these lists, like picking all-time XIs, is just an exercise in self-indulgence, subject to the whims and biases of an individual or group.

I could have had a fit and pointed out that Mourinho, who won all his trophies with established clubs - even FC Porto were champions of Europe as long ago as 1987 - was unlikely to have stuck around with a team long enough to take them from second-division obscurity to first-division glory in four years, and then dismantle a fading side and build a new one that his successor would lead into an era of European dominance.

I could have taken even greater offence at Jock Stein being ranked a lowly 17th. Before Manchester United, before Liverpool, and a full 45 years before Chelsea, Celtic were kings of Europe, with a starting XI born within a loud fart of Parkhead.

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