By John Ryan
- Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge for another crucial Premier League fixture
- Mourinho won’t want to see his team suffer another to Chelsea
Since the arrival of Roman Abramovich Chelsea have been a juggernaut. A ruthless business model where success is placed well ahead of people or reputations. They have replaced manager after manager to win titles.
They have sacked Jose Mourinho twice after he won them Premier League titles. Sacked a World Cup winner, a Champions League winner and anyone who was no longer a winner.
Last season they handed Mourinho’s Manchester United a hammering in this fixture. The 4-0 defeat saw Mourinho ask forgiveness from the United fans.
A year on he is involved in a covert battle with the same United fans who backed him. Meanwhile Chelsea’s form is worrying and there are whispers that Antonio Conte will leave at the end of the season.
Chelsea are being Chelsea. Mourinho is being himself. The one personality missing in this fixture is the real Manchester United.
A Difficult Opponent For United!
Chelsea have been dangerous foes for United for almost twenty years. In Claudio Ranieiri’s first game they came from 3-1 down at Old Trafford to grab a point.
In October 1999 they destroyed United 5-0 at Stamford Bridge and in general their record against United speaks for itself.
Both sides face into this game in patchy form. Between them they have dropped eleven points in their last five league games and Chelsea were well beaten by Roma in the Champions League this week.
Manchester United have won all of their games in that competition but the style and panache of yesteryear is not there. Both Managers have a lot to lose on Sunday and this could dictate their approach to the game.
Mourinho has overseen the best defence in the league this season and the second best attack.
He is still accused of boring football. Cleary United have missed Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku’s form has slid in the Frenchman’s absence.
Chelsea have lost three games already this season and are porous at the back. Lukaku with seven goals and Morata with six are the top scorers for both sides.
Conte will hope that N’Golo Kante is declared fit to play and with reports of him conducting an internal review after the Rome debacle attack may be his only form of defence.
What Will Mourinho’s Tactics Be?
For Manchester United fans the message to Mourinho is simple. Chelsea are wounded, go and take them. Pogba has travelled for the game but remains a doubt but the squad is still strong and well capable of a win.
At home to Chelsea last season Mourinho proved what a wonderful Manager he is. He rested Ibrahimovic and partnered Rashford with Lingard. Chelsea were ran ragged.
He might need to do similar on Sunday. Chelsea are not good when their defence is moved around and in Martial and Rashford he has the players to do that.
Mourinho stopped Lukaku from taking a penalty against Benfica this week and clearly he is sending a message that there is only one manager in the Manchester United dressing room.
The players, fans nor anyone else have little chance of influencing him. What United fans are crying out for is the marriage of his managerial genius to the risk taking and entertainment that is par for the course at Old Trafford.
Which Manager Will Come Out On Top?
In October 2016 Mourinho had words in Conte’s ear when the latter was playing to the home crowd as Chelsea toyed with United.
Mourinho’s pride has to have been hurt by his treatment at Chelsea. He has shown his class in how he manages Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, two players whose careers have been extended by his tactics.
Both could start as wing backs against Chelsea and both are as big a threat as anyone else on the park. Under previous Manchester United managers they might not be under consideration for this game.
This is the game to go for it, to stretch Chelsea and get their defence facing their own goal and show that he is a Manager who can be loved like the great Scottish Men who have done this job before him.
Something huge is waiting to happen to United and Mourinho has shown he can win, now he needs to win well.
Verdict Chelsea 0-3 Manchester United