It was not quite the homecoming José Mourinho expected in west London. Sitting in the visiting team’s technical area at Stamford Bridge, he saw his new side being picked apart, one defence mistake at a time, by his old team—one that he had built over the years and taken to eight titles and also the one that gave him the boot after just surviving the relegation zone last December.
Mourinho’s Manchester United were humiliated at Stamford Bridge by Antonio Conte’s Chelsea Sunday night when the hosts defeated the visitors 4-0. But it was more the manner of the defeat than the score line itself that should concern Mourinho. That and the reception from the crowd he got at his former home.
Pedro Rodriguez opened for Chelsea inside the first minute, his goal followed by Gary Cahill (21), Eden Hazard (62) and N’Golo Kante (70). It was one of the most shocking defensive performances by United that angered Mourinho, who was also forced to watch the same players rising to the occasion who just could not perform during his second stint in Chelsea in 2015. And if that wasn’t enough, the fans were brutal in their treatment of the Special One who they once worshipped with the chants of “You’re not special any more”.
It was only the second time a Mourinho team has lost a game 4-0. It also comes on the back of a goalless draw by United at Anfield. After nine games this season, United have 14 points, five fewer than they had under Louis Vaan Gaal last season. They are sitting seventh on the Premier League table that is topped by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City with 20 points. Chelsea have 19 points and are fourth on the table.
Mourinho,53, shot to fame with his work with FC Porto, a team which literally came from nowhere and won the UEFA Champions League, the highest honour in European club football in 2003-04. He then signed up at Stamford Bridge and won three Premier League titles with them. He is widely regarded as one of the great coaches of modern times with eight league titles and two Champions League trophies under his belt. But the concern for United fans is whether he has lost his touch, that most coaches in English football remain great only for a decade. Mourinho has been off colour lately, both on and off the field, he has been outmanoeuvred by opponents in the tactical department.
To his credit, this is where Mourinho excels. This is from where he picked up Chelsea in the 2004-05 season and led them to their first Premier League title in 50 years.
“I have a three-year contract here (Manchester United) and if I am here for three years the people will know that I have given everything to the club... But if, at the end of the three years, I don’t win a single piece of silverware for them, they will say ‘great guy, good coach, we like him, but we feel nothing special about him’,” British media quoted Mourinho as saying before the match against Chelsea.
United fans will be praying that the Special One has at least one more special season left in him.