Belfast Telegraph

Jose is humbled on Bridge return

Chelsea 4 Man United 0

By Mark Ogden

Awful, shambolic, clueless and humbled, but definitely not special.

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea's Special One, is looking very ordinary at Manchester United, but it took a 4-0 hammering against his old team at Stamford Bridge to expose the magnitude of the job he now has on his hands at Old Trafford.

By the end of his first return to Chelsea with United, the Stamford Bridge crowd were sarcastically chanting Mourinho's name and giving out 'oles' as Antonio Conte's team stroked the ball around against their shell-shocked opponents.

Mourinho has landed into a black hole at United. He has inherited a team which cannot defend properly or attack with intent.

It is a team bereft of top quality, with expensive additions such as Paul Pogba repeatedly failing to shine and Henrikh Mkhitaryan seemingly already ostracised to a life outside the squad.

Mourinho had insisted United would challenge for the title this season, but this defeat leaves them five points adrift of the top four and facing a battle to qualify for the Champions League.

Chelsea, meanwhile, having romped to victory with goals from Pedro, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante are beginning to look the team Mourinho guided to the title just 18 months ago.

With this game falling close to the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of Matthew Harding, the former Chelsea director, all banners relating to Mourinho and the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard were removed, with only those referring to Harding visible around the stadium.

So there was no Mourinho reception, not even a polite applause as he took his seat.

He was out of it less than a minute later, mind you, thanks to an awful defensive misunderstanding between Daley Blind and Chris Smalling gifting Chelsea their opening goal through Pedro after just 29 seconds.

Mourinho had obviously sent his team out with a strict game-plan, but it was in shreds once Pedro stroked the ball into the net.

The United boss reacted without reaction. He was motionless in the technical area, projecting a mask of indifference when he must have been seething inside.

United, with the injured Wayne Rooney also not making the squad, attempted to respond quickly after Pedro's opener, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw a shot blocked by David Luiz before he headed another chance over the bar.

Ibrahimovic embodied United's attacking efforts in contrast to Chelsea's. They were laboured and predictable, while Chelsea were quick and dangerous and the home team's second came on 21 minutes following another defensive lapse by United.

Ander Herrera failed to clear a Victor Moses corner and the ball dropped to Cahill, who volleyed home from six yards.

Blind continued to suffer his nightmare, losing possession to Pedro before being rescued by a crucial De Gea save.

That was the signal for Mourinho to turn to his substitutes, sending them out to warm up, three at a time.

Ten years ago, during his first spell in charge of Chelsea, Mourinho would have thought nothing of making the change there and then, but yesterday he waited until the interval to replace Marouane Fellaini - hurt by a wild knee-high challenge by David Luiz - with Juan Mata.

Mourinho could have made three changes quite easily. Stamford Bridge has never been a happy hunting ground for United, but the Portuguese will have been dismayed by his team's meek surrender.

Pogba, the £89m midfielder, was anonymous again, doing little to justify his exorbitant fee, with Nemanja Matic and Kante tying him in knots in the centre of the pitch.

Hazard was just as anonymous as Pogba under Mourinho for Chelsea last season, but the Belgian was outstanding in front of his former manager and it was he who set the seal on United's defeat.

The Chelsea number ten began the move on the edge of United box, cutting onto his right foot before laying the ball off to Kante.

Kante then fed Matic, who returned the ball to Hazard inside the penalty area. Hazard took a touch, moved the ball outside Smalling and passed it into the net. Game over.

But while the game was won, Chelsea hadn't stopped inflicting the pain on Mourinho, with Kante inflicting another wound on 70 minutes with their fourth.

Kante, supposedly a destroyer, displayed true flair by dancing around the hopeless Smalling before guiding the ball past De Gea.

Chelsea, having wobbled with heavy defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal, are now beginning to motor under Conte. But Mourinho still has not been able to get United out of reverse.

CHELSEA: Courtois, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso, Pedro (Chalobah, 71 mins), Diego Costa (Batshuayi, 78 mins), Hazard (Willian, 78 mins). Unused subs: Begovic, Aina, Terry, Oscar.

MAN UNITED: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Bailly (Rojo, 52 mins), Blind, Fellaini (Mata, 46 mins), Herrera, Rashford, Pogba, Lingard (Martial, 65 mins), Ibrahimovic. Unused subs: Romero, Darmian, Carrick, Young.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Man of the match: Eden Hazard

Match rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph


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