Chelsea run riot over Man United in Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge Premier League defeat over Manchester United on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.
WATFORD, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 18: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United takes a look around the pitch prior to kick off during the Premier League match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road on September 18, 2016 in Watford, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
1. Chelsea spoil Mourinho’s return
As familiar as defeat at Stamford Bridge became for Jose Mourinho last season, there was nothing as bad as this.
He came home, and was utterly hammered, suffering his worst ever Premier League defeat. A fiercely driven Chelsea battered Manchester United 4-0.
It was Antonio Conte’s side that came out like they had a point to prove, rather than their former manager, as there was never a second of this game when they didn’t look superior to United.
There were only 29 seconds, in fact, when Chelsea weren’t ahead. That was how long it took for Pedro to take advantage of a defensive mix-up between Daley Blind and Chris Smalling to then round the exposed David De Gea and make it 1-0.
Chelsea kept that pace up for the rest of the half, and were just quicker than United to everything. It only took another 20 minutes, in fact, for it to be 2-0. Mourinho’s defence again switched off, as four players stood stationary around Gary Cahill at a corner, allowing him to volley in from close range. David Luiz was probably fortunate to stay on the pitch for whacking Marouane Fellaini, but Chelsea were still in control.
Eden Hazard made it 3-0 on the hour mark with the goal of the game, sliding the ball home after a fine passing move. It only added an extra layer to the many strands of this game that Juan Mata made the error for it, the player Mourinho so infamously jettisoned from Stamford Bridge in 2014.
By the time N’Golo Kante rolled in the fourth, United’s defence were barely challenging.
Chelsea just seemed so much more fired up, and applied themselves better in almost everything they did.
Mourinho’s return was hugely underwhelming in that regard, but it also reflected the mood of the day.
For a manager as important to the club’s history, and after a campaign as extreme as last season, there was a strange indifference from the Stamford Bridge crowd to Mourinho. There was no big acknowledgement before the game, and some fans were even heard to chant “You’re not special any more”.
The only time they sang his name was when they were 4-0 up. It was the only sympathy anyone from Chelsea showed all day.
2. Mourinho a man without a plan
As bad as collapsing to a 4-0 defeat is, what is even more concerning for Manchester United is that they have now only won one in six in the league.
That, conspicuously, is a Chelsea 2015-16 run. There were many elements of this performance that reminded of Mourinho’s horror last season at Stamford Bridge, most notably the fact that there was no pattern to United’s attacking game. There was also no shape or application to their defending.
It is amazing to ask this after a game between two of the Premier League’s major clubs, but what exactly was Mourinho’s game plan?
It seemed it didn’t amount to much more than keeping a clean sheet. Unlike at Liverpool on Monday, though, they weren’t switched on here. So, on going behind so quickly, they had nothing else to offer.
It doesn’t help that so many players had poor individual performances, but when bad displays are that widespread, there is probably a deeper problem than the players.
Something is still off about United’s formation, and it doesn’t help that it all feels so stale. Once again, the only attacking threat they had came from punts and crosses.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic squandered their one chance when it
was 1-0, heading over.
The Swede had one of his worst performances in a United shirt since joining the club, but it’s still hard to say he was the worst United performer on the day. There were so many off their game, from the aimless Paul Pogba to the hapless Mata.
It all added up for one very bad day for Mourinho. He now has a number of problems to solve.
3. Conte’s Chelsea past sternest test yet
Who said these Chelsea players wouldn’t put in a performance for Mourinho? From the way Luiz vigorously celebrated Kante’s goal, and the intensity that players like Hazard and Victor Moses put into every challenge, it would have been very easy to conclude that they greatly desired getting one over their former manager.
There was more than just purpose to Chelsea, though.
There was a proper plan, in stark contrast to United.
In the past few months, there has been a lot of talk over whether Mourinho is a faded force at the elite end of the game compared to managers like Jurgen Klopp and Conte, and this game did provide some evidence. Chelsea still have a few positions to upgrade, but they attacked with a coordination and zip beyond United.
This was also a significant step up in performance from the wins over Hull City and Leicester. It was said after those games that this match would be the true test of Conte’s three-man-defence formation and, if so, they more than passed it.
By the end, they were so easily passing the ball around United. If this was one of Mourinho’s worst days, it was by far Conte’s best at Chelsea.
Chelsea no longer have to look to the past. They can look to the future.