Devils stuck in reverse
> Mourinho has inherited a team which cannot defend properly or attack with intent
AWFUL, SHAMBOLIC, clueless and humiliated, 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.
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.
There was a certainly a flatness to Mourinho ahead of this game; none of the old bravado, just a quiet, respectful tone, almost as though this fixture was an ordeal that he simply had to endure.
Within Stamford Bridge, it was also muted. 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 gameplan, but it was in shreds once Pedro – who came close to signing for United prior to his arrival at Chelsea from Barcelona last season – stroked the ball into the net.
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 from six yards.
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.
Mata’s introduction enabled United to at least enjoy more control and possession of the ball early in the second-half, but it was soft possession and Chelsea were hardly troubled as the visitors passed and passed, but barely troubled Thibaut Courtois.
Pogba, the £89 million (RM445m) 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.
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. – The Independent
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill (top) jumps onto the huddle to join the celebrates after N’Golo Kante scored their fourth goal during yesterday’s EPL match against Manchester United. – AFPPIX