It was the return to Stamford Bridge for Jose Mourinho. The place where he won three league titles during his two stints as Chelsea manager. But on Sunday he left the ground as a loser as his Manchester United side suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat.
Chelsea ran away with the game, and with Pedro scoring after about 30 seconds, it was clear that it would be a painful evening for United and their supporters. United were in shambles at the back, with Danny Blind and Chris Smalling being the biggest culprits. Chelsea got the perfect start and smelled blood in the water, whereas United looked shellshocked. Marouane Fellaini ran around aimlessly in the middle, and it wasn’t a surprise that he was taken off at halftime.
But by that point it was already 2-0 Chelsea as Gary Cahill had extended the lead in the 21st minute. David De Gea saved a point for United in the scoreless draw against Liverpool, but he was unable to replicate that performance as he was left hung out to dry by his defenders.
Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante found the back of the net in the second half to complete the humiliation of Mourinho and the Manchester United team.
It was the worst loss for United since the 6-1 loss to Manchester City during the 2011/12 season, which was the last time they lost by four goals or more in the league. It’s a huge blow to Mourinho and the criticism toward the Portuguese manager is getting more and more vocal by the day.
When Mourinho was winning titles, you could defend his way of setting a team up and the defensive style he likes to implement at his teams. But now it seems more and more clear that he’s been unable to evolve with the times, and much like Louis van Gaal, the game seems to has passed him by. Falling down by a goal after 30 seconds can mess up any game plan, no matter who’s the manager, but there’s wasn’t any type of response from United after falling behind. It was a very worrying sign for a team that is supposed to be fighting for the league title.
“You come with a strategy, you cannot concede a goal in the way we did,” Mourinho said after the match.
“We were coming to have an offensive approach. We wanted to create chances; we showed that after the 1-0. The second and the third were counter-attack goals.
“It is one of those days when you give the advantage to opponents by doing nothing.
“In terms of points, we got zero points, we lose three points. We are six points from the top, three from the top four, we now need to win matches. We need to win our matches now, which are not easy.
“We need to win to close that gap – after these last three matches, we made two out of nine. We now need points.”
Mourinho always seemed like a strange fit for United, as his defensive-minded style of play isn’t in line with what fans were used to under Sir Alex Ferguson. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward should shoulder a lot of the blame for the poor performances, as he’s the one who made the Louis van Gaal hire and then replaced him with Mourinho.
For Chelsea, it seems like Antonio Conte has found the right recipe with the 3-4-4 formation. Since making the switch, the team has picked up three straight wins along with keeping three clean sheets. With a lot of the same players who underperformed under Mourinho last season, made a real statement towards their old boss. Eden Hazard looks like he’s back to his old self, and Diego Costa leads the league in scoring.