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Has Jose Mourinho caught Arsense Wenger's lost boy syndrome?

Monday 30th July 2018

JM Barrie, the Victorian-era Scottish writer who gave us Peter Pan, was a cricket fan. Even so, his Neverland dynamic is not unlike a football club. Captain Hook is the tough, grizzled manager too likely to argue about added time. Naturally, Tick-tock the Crocodile is the match official, which tells you Hook fared as well as any manager does against the men in black. Peter is the superstar who doesn’t want to accept his defensive responsibilities. Wendy is the obligatory WAG. Tinkerbell represents the female player. Her powers remind us that the women’s game was as popular as the men’s in Barrie’s day. Her diminutive size represents the chauvinistic, insecure FA’s opinion of that fact, which led the organisation to ban ladies’ teams from its club grounds from 1921-71.

Then there are the Lost Boys. Football leagues tend to be cyclical. Clubs rise, others fall. Each goes through glorious and forgettable eras. When top teams wander into dysfunctionality, a unique phenomenon tends to occur. Young, promising players get lost in the shuffle.

It happened during Arsenal’s long, slow decline in Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. It may be happening now at Manchester United under Jose Mourinho.

Here are six cases, three from each club. You decide if there’s any parallel between the two managers and clubs.

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Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin authored the short story collection strange bOUnce. He appeared in several other blogs which no longer exist. Old, he likes to bring out defunct. If outdated sport and pop-cultural references intrude on his meanderings for It's Round and It's White, don't be alarmed. He's harmless.

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