Chelsea absolutely destroyed Manchester United in the 4PM kick off on Super Sunday yesterday. In honesty, the game was over in the first 32 seconds when Pedro took the ball round David de Gea and slotted home to put Chelsea 1-0 up, forcing Mourinho to revert to whatever his plan B was.
Much was made of Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge with Manchester United– he had become idolised by the fans during his first and second spells, in which he won multiple league titles and domestic trophies during his years at the club. The feeling towards the end of his second spell turned sour, with it being widely reported by the media that he fell out with a number of hugely influential players in the dressing room before he was sacked on December 17th 2015, leaving them one point above the relegation places.
It was the worst possible return for Mourinho, who found himself having a cheap dig at Chelsea boss Antonio Conte for his touchline celebrations during the game at full time. Does he not remember the 5 minute early handshakes he used to offer opposition managers when he was in charge at Chelsea? Does he not remember the 50 yard sprint down the touchline at Old Trafford to celebrate with his Porto team all those years ago in the Champions League? It appears that he may have a selective memory.
Antonio Conte has proved what a progressive, adaptable coach he is. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article on my blog which questioned how long he would remain as manager of Chelsea after they had just been beaten 3-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates stadium. His side that day looked uncomfortable in the formation they were playing, out of ideas and second to every ball. They couldn’t have looked less like a Conte side if they’d tried. Since then, the Italian has reverted back to his favoured 3 at the back formation which won him so many games at Juventus and they have flourished because of it. David Luiz in the middle of the back 3 looks rock solid, N’Golo Kante looks like he’s back to his destructive, relentless self and Eden Hazard already looks like an early contender for player of the season (he took his goal brilliantly against Man United). They are now, in many people’s opinions, favourites for the Premier League title after Manchester City and Spurs’ recent struggles.
Whilst Conte fine tunes his style ready for an assault on the league title this year, Jose Mourinho is trying to stitch together what remains of a philosophy and playing style which has been ripped to shreds in the last 18 months or so. His favoured 4-2-3-1 approach, which he has won so much with in his career to date, now seems outdated and is being brutally exposed by managers, teams and individuals who have sussed out how to play against it and have moved on to more possession based, hard running, high pressing styles of play – the way Klopp, Pochettino, Howe and Guardiola have set their teams up in the Premier League are perfect examples of how the game is changing in this Country.
When David de Gea and makeshift right-back Antonio Valencia have been your best players so far this season, it tells you pretty much everything you need to know about what needs improving in this expensively assembled team. Pogba and Fellaini, the current two occupants of the defensive midfield positions, both seem as if they aren’t comfortable there – Fellaini was awful against Chelsea and Pogba was dominated by the very impressive Kante (and Henderson before that against Liverpool). Marcus Rashford, the new hot young thing coming out of the United youth academy, should not be playing out wide on the right hand side – his weaknesses are being brutally exposed against top level full backs; he can’t cross, hardly ever beats his man and often gets out-muscled. Daley Blind, as intelligent and technically excellent as he is, will never make it as a top defender in this country in my opinion. He just lacks too many attributes required to make the grade – height and pace being two of them. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the superstar from Sweden, looks to be struggling to find his scoring boots since his promising start to the season. In my opinion, Anthony Martial sitting on the bench hardly getting a look in whilst Zlatan struggles to find the net is a crying shame. Martial is the best centre forward United have at their club. In Jose’s first successful spell at Chelsea, he had proper wingers providing ammunition for a proven goalscorer – Robben, Duff, Cole, Wright-Phillips etc. Despite buying Mata, Depay and others, Jose seems reluctant to use them properly. Just another one of the many reasons as to why they’re struggling.
Whilst this may come across as me having dig after dig at Manchester United, please be assured that I am not doing it to provoke a reaction or start arguments with United fans. I am finding the club’s fall from the glory days under Ferguson very interesting and I enjoy writing about it and giving my opinion in to why it’s happened and what I think may sort it.
Elsewhere in the Premier League
Manchester City continue to struggle in October by drawing with Southampton 1-1 at the Etihad Stadium; John Stones coming under particular scrutiny with a horrendous backpass straight to Nathan Redmond to setup Southampton’s opener. Spurs continue their unbeaten start to the season with a 0-0 away to Bournemouth. Liverpool move up to Third with a 2-1 win over West Brom at Anfield. Arsenal also stay in the mix with a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Middlesbrough.
Premier League results
Man City 1 – 1 Southampton
Chelsea 4 – 0 Man Utd
Bournemouth 0 – 0 Tottenham
Arsenal 0 – 0 Middlesbrough
Burnley 2 – 1 Everton
Hull 0 – 2 Stoke
Leicester 3 – 1 Crystal Palace
Swansea 0 – 0 Watford
West Ham 1 – 0 Sunderland
Roundup of results in Europe
Real Madrid scrape past Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the Bernabeu to go top of La Liga, thanks to an 83rd minute winner by Alvaro Morata. They overtook Sevilla, who went top earlier on in the day, courtesy of a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid; Atletico midfielder Koke saw red in that game. Barcelona beat Valencia 3-2 on Saturday in a brilliant game at the Mestalla which saw Lionel Messi score a 94th minute penalty to give Barca the 3 points.
Borussia Dortmund continue to struggle in the Bundesliga this season, coming back from two goals down to draw 3-3 away at Ingolstadt on Saturday. Bayern Munich had the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table and took full advantage of that opportunity by beating Gladbach 2-0 at the Allianz arena. Newly promoted RB Leipzig, the team backed by energy drinks giant Red Bull, are the nearest challengers to Bayern and moved up to 2nd in the Bundesliga, 2 points behind the leaders, with a 3-1 home win over Werder Bremen.
AC Milan were the headline grabbers in Italy this weekend and look like they are back to something like their best after many years of underachievement with a 1-0 win over Juventus at the San Siro on Saturday evening. Milan move to within 2 points of Juve at the top of the league with that win and sit level on points with Roma, who swept Palermo aside 4-1 at home on Sunday evening. Joe Hart’s Torino drew 2-2 at home and are 5th.
Edinson Cavani misses an absolute sitter in PSG’s 0-0 draw at home with Marseille, now coached by ex-Roma manager Rudi Garcia. Surprise leaders Nice stay top of Ligue 1 and go 4 points clear of second place with a 4-2 away win at Metz. That team in Second place are Monaco, who won 6-2 at home against Montpellier.
Thanks for reading, as always.