Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Love May Be in Short Supply as Blues Move on from Mourinho

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Love May Be in Short Supply as Blues Move on from Mourinho

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Evans @tonyevans92a

JOSE MOURINHO will face a new experience at Stamford Bridge tonight: the Manchester United manager will feel lonely.

The Portuguese has never experienced this before. He is the most successful manager in Chelsea's history and the residual love for him at least from the stands was still evident in October, when Antonio Conte's side beat United 4-0. How Chelsea supporters will react to their former manager during the FA Cup quarter-final is anyone's guess. Mourinho's po-faced and public criticism of Conte's rabble-rousing on the sidelines is likely to have changed the mood of fans. They may still be conflicted but there is not a lot of love for the 54-year-old in the home dressing room.

It was different when the 'Special One' returned as manager of Inter Milan in the Champions League seven years ago. Then, Mourinho made a huge show of affection for the Chelsea players. They were "his boys" and he loved them. There were hugs in the tunnel before the game. It seemed to mess with Chelsea's mind. Inter came away from west London with a 1-0 win on their way to becoming champions of Europe. Mourinho was still the boss, like it or not.

There will be no pre-game cuddles tonight. The Portuguese, who won the title with almost the same group of players available to Conte, rarely alludes to the squad who brought the Premier League trophy back to the Bridge two years ago. They have little to say about their title-winning manager, either. Few in the Chelsea dressing room were disappointed when he left the club last season.

Mourinho can live with that. He has made a career out of making enemies. Winning friends has been less important than winning.

The problem for the United manager is he lacks the sort of personnel that he needs to trouble Chelsea. Even with a full-strength squad, United match up badly against the home team. …

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