For once, Jose Mourinho’s touchline tantrum against Chelsea was justified, after Chelsea showed why it’s a club that will never be loved by neutrals
The sense of disappointment was palpable.
Six minutes of stoppage time had elapsed when Ross Barkley scored. Chelsea coach Marco Ianni waved a hand in Jose Mourinho’s face once and got no reaction. On his way back to the bench Ianni tried again. A playful little wave, not obscene (at least not by English standards) and probably not enough to merit a fine, but this time he hit pay-dirt.
Mourinho leapt from his bench in a rage not seen since … well, the last time he got in a rage. Stewards had to physically restrain him. For a moment a full on brawl looked likely to erupt and then … everything calmed down, Ianni apologised, Sarri apologised and everyone was friends again.
It was all a huge let down. Fans and journalists alike had to pretend they were pleased it hadn’t “kicked off” and instead we were left to contemplate another bewildering afternoon in the life of Jose.
Another quiet day for Jose Mourinho
It started badly, as they usually do these days. Manchester United took to the field in predominantly red shirts, white shorts and red socks, a colour combination that was probably intended to hark back to the Charlton-Best era. Unfortunately, due to the design of both the shirts and socks they looked more like Middlesbrough or post-Brian-Clough Nottingham Forest, and they defended accordingly.
Chelsea took a 21st-minute corner. Pogba showed the positional awareness of a drunken security guard and Antonio Rüdiger scored with a free header.
For the rest of the half Chelsea looked more like to increase their lead than throw it away, as United seemed happy to sit back and avoid further damage, making the second-half turnaround even more unexpected.
“Whatever he said at half-time, it worked,” said the pundits. Perhaps it was something along the lines of: “you know, as we’re 1-0 down, might it be a good idea to … attack?”
Thus, in the second half, United found that through the simple expedient of “passing the ball forwards” and occasionally “shooting” they were able to score not once, but twice. The equaliser came through Martial, from a position where Marcos Alonso might have been able to tackle had he not been prostrate on the floor with an injury from which he made a rapid recovery.
Martial then scored again, stylishly rounding off a counter-attack, but when the board went up to signal a full six minutes of injury time, a collective groan went round the away end, the Greater Manchester conurbation and much of suburban England.
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Six minutes? The laws of Fergie time had been tipped on their axis. With time running out David Luiz hit the post with a header, David de Gea made an instinctive reaction save to thwart Rüdiger’s follow up and Barkley reacted quickest to turn in the rebound.
When the subsequent commotion had died down a section of the Chelsea fans began chanting a song which consisted of three words. One of these words was “Mourinho” but the other two form a coarse English expression which cannot be repeated on this website.
This is perhaps why, even under a likable manager, Chelsea remain so disliked by fans of rival clubs. At any other ground in England a manager who’d won so many trophies for his former club would have been given at worst a polite round of applause.
Mourinho’s reaction to Ianni’s provocation was human. His reaction to the fans was pointed and effective, holding up three fingers to denote the number of titles he’d won at Stamford Bridge. At this rate fans of rival clubs might start liking him again, but as someone who’d rather be respected than liked, if his team concede any more Fergie time equalisers that may not be enough, either for him or his employers.