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The Portuguese master has led United to their best run in years and, as Marco Silva attempts to make his way in the English game, he meets his compatriot at the worst possible time


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There has been a 'next Jose Mourinho' in the Premier League before. His name was Andre Villas-Boas and he lasted last than a year at both Chelsea and Tottenham. Marco Silva is the latest Portuguese upstart to have a go at managing in the shadow of the man himself but his first major task in England could hardly be more unforgiving than attempting to block Mourinho's path to a first final with Manchester United.

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The headlines surrounding Silva's appointment at Hull City, who travel to Old Trafford for the EFL Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday, were entirely predictable thanks to Mourinho's phenomenal triumphs in the modern game. When one Portuguese manager wins two Champions Leagues, eight league championships and various other major silverware, everyone who follows his path is expected to be every bit as good. But that is easier said than done.

Villas-Boas might have carried the added baggage of having made his name in management at Porto, winning a Primeira Liga and Europa League at the Estadio do Dragao just as had his old mate Mourinho, but the spotlight on Silva is no less forgiving after criticism was immediately directed at Hull for their decision to instantly overlook English options in favour of the 39-year-old.

His successes with Estoril, Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos deserve respect and Mourinho has been his biggest advocate to date. "He started from below and wasn't given a top job immediately," said the United boss of Silva. "In spite of him being so young, he is experienced, he is mature. I would love him to do well but it is hard to jump from the bottom of the league.

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"It's not easy to come to the Premier League when you are a foreign coach. He knows it is difficult because they are bottom of the league but it is a big opportunity for him. He is a good young coach. He went to Greece. Nobody knows he was champion there. Now he comes to the big one."

While he might have overseen a win in his first game in charge against Swansea in the FA Cup on Saturday, Silva is about to find out just how difficult life in England can really be. United have won their last eight fixtures in all competitions, are the country's most in-form team and have a whole host of top-class players coming back in fresh as daisies thanks to their being rested for the weekend win over Reading.

Moreover, United have the one manager who knows Silva better than anyone. If the young gun is hoping to gain a few early victories with Hull thanks to the element of surprise that can come with a new, unknown boss, he can hardly have come up against a more unforgiving fixture schedule. After Tuesday's first leg, the two sides not only meet again on January 26 in the return fixture but also match up six days later in the Premier League at Old Trafford. Seven games into his career in England, Silva will have come up against Mourinho three times.

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And this comes at a time when United are really beginning to fly under the former Chelsea man. Those eight straight wins tell only a small part of the story, with their confidence in creating chances and belief in their ability to break down stubborn opponents make them a very difficult prospect. With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and David de Gea returning to the United line-up after a full week away from the field, Hull meet United at potentially their highest point yet in 2016-17.

There could barely be a bigger task for Silva than to prove himself worthy of comparison with the man who is starting to show Manchester just how special he can be.

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