Foot­ball: Mour­inho’s hu­mil­i­at­ing re­turn to Stam­ford Bridge

The Week Middle East - - News -

“You’re not spe­cial any more!” That’s what the Chelsea fans sang at Stam­ford Bridge on Sun­day, taunt­ing for­mer Chelsea man­ager José Mour­inho as their team ham­mered his Manch­ester United side 4-0, said Henry Win­ter in The Times. And they were right. At the very ground where the man­ager ex­pe­ri­enced some of his “most cher­ished mo­ments”, he suf­fered his heav­i­est Premier League de­feat. From first minute to last, Chelsea were “far the su­pe­rior side”; United were truly “ab­ject”, a dis­grace to the “famous red shirts” on their chests. But Mour­inho couldn’t just blame his play­ers’ hap­less­ness: it was his mis­takes, as much as theirs, that led the team astray. As for­mer Chelsea striker Eiður Guðjohnsen tweeted af­ter­wards, “José still knows how to get the best out of Chelsea.” Mour­inho was meant to turn this ail­ing team around, said Paul Hay­ward in The Daily Tele­graph. When he took over in the sum­mer, the club hoped his “tac­ti­cal nous and author­ity” would put an end to the mis­takes made since Alex Fer­gu­son’s de­par­ture. But that has turned out to be far more dif­fi­cult than any­one ex­pected. De­spite fork­ing out £145m, Mour­inho has failed to make any real dif­fer­ence in the ar­eas that count: re­sults, team spirit, en­ter­tain­ment value. Against Chelsea, United re­sem­bled “a rab­ble with­out a cause”, said Paul Doyle in The Ob­server. Slow and “ragged”, many play­ers didn’t seem to know what they were sup­posed to be do­ing. The de­fence was ap­palling; Paul Pogba, the mid­fielder signed for a world-record £89m, looked like “an ex­pen­sive pas­sen­ger that United can’t af­ford to keep car­ry­ing”. Yet the big­gest worry is Mour­inho him­self, said Daniel Tay­lor in the same pa­per. He has lost his old strut, his “air of in­sou­ciance”. A year af­ter he was sacked by Chelsea, he still ap­pears trau­ma­tised: he can barely bring him­self to “men­tion his old club by name”. The Blues are hav­ing no such trou­ble mov­ing on, said Matt Barlow in the Daily Mail. Their man­ager, An­to­nio Conte, is firmly in con­trol: on Sun­day, he di­rected ev­ery pass “with his cease­less bar­rage of in­struc­tions, like a hy­per­ac­tive Ital­ian traf­fic cop”. He has re­vi­talised the play­ers who lan­guished last sea­son – par­tic­u­larly Eden Haz­ard and Diego Costa. Yet Conte hasn’t al­ways looked so im­pres­sive, said Jonathan Liew in The Sun­day Tele­graph. When his side lost 3-0 to Ar­se­nal last month, he was even tipped for the sack. But since switch­ing to 3-4-3 dur­ing that game, the Ital­ian has stuck with the for­ma­tion – and been re­warded with three wins and nine goals in three matches. Much de­ployed in fan­tasy foot­ball, 3-4-3 is rarely seen at the game’s top level. But by al­low­ing Haz­ard to stay for­ward, pro­vid­ing cover for the wing-backs and cre­at­ing a “more ef­fec­tive press­ing unit”, it is prov­ing ideal for Chelsea.

Mour­inho: trau­ma­tised

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.