Mourinho humiliated on Chelsea return as Man United lose 4-0
LONDON: Jose Mourinho was humiliated on his return to Chelsea as Manchester United's dithering defense was brutally exposed in a 4-0 loss Sunday by its ruthless hosts, who scored after only 30 seconds.
Mourinho endured chants of "You're not special anymore" from home fans at Stamford Bridge who adored the self-styled "Special One" when he was delivering trophies across two spells in charge of the London club.
With Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante also scoring after Pedro Rodriguez's lightning opener, this capitulation by United was reminiscent of the gloomy final days of Mourinho's second Chelsea reign which was abruptly halted last December with his firing.
United is quickly discovering the managerial aura which saw Mourinho win trophies with FC Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan is not yet close to being restored.
Antonio Conte also had much to prove against Mourinho after losses to Liverpool and Arsenal in the opening weeks of his Chelsea reign. The Italian's players delivered before the first minute of the game had elapsed, setting the tone for a day of dominance.
The opener originated from a speculative long ball from Marcus Alonso which drifted past hesitating defenders Daley Blind and Chris Smalling and landed at Pedro's feet. United goalkeeper David de Gea was already committed far from his goal-line at the edge of the penalty area and Pedro nipped around him and made no mistake putting the ball in the open net.
"We made an incredible defensive mistake with capitals in the first minute — then the game is different," Mourinho said, insisting the overall performance was "very good."
The evidence on the pitch suggested otherwise. Paul Pogba, the world's most expensive player , made little impact once again in a game of significance following his 105 million-euro August arrival.
Another summer transfer window recruit has faded too.
How United would the rue the miss by Zlatan Ibrahimovic who missed the target with a header. There was no way back for the record 20-time English champions, who have become a faded force since Alex Ferguson's retirement three years ago with David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal in charge.
It was another mistake by Smalling that allowed Chelsea to extend its lead in the 21st minute.
A Chelsea corner was flicked on at the near post by United's Antonio Valencia, then hit teammate Ander Herrera before the lethargic Smalling allowed Cahill to evade him and the Chelsea defender netted via Blind's back.
There was a further setback for United with defender Eric Bailly coming off at the start of the second half, with a ligament injury Mourinho later described as "really bad."
The game was becoming a reflection of the managers on the touchline. While Mourinho was subdued with his hands in his pocket, Conte was gesticulating enthusiastically.
The energy was being transmitted to his players.
Eden Hazard started the incisive move that ended with a third goal in the 62nd minute. N'Golo Kante then squared to Nemanja Matic, who returned the ball for Hazard to turn Smalling before dispatching the ball into the corner of the net.
Mourinho's misery was compounded eight minutes later. Pedro, who started the rout, set up Kante to complete it. Kante waltzed through United's brittle defense with ease, going past Smalling — who else? — before slotting beyond De Gea.
After nine games, United has fewer points (14) than at this stage last year under Van Gaal (19) and sits seventh in the standings — six points behind pacesetters Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. Chelseaclimbed to fourth — the minimum target for Conte to return the team to the Champions League.
"It's important this type of game against a team that's very strong like Manchester United as it increases our confidence," Conte said. "They deserve this type of performance, this type of win."