Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Route 1 Can Only Ever Be Plan B

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Route 1 Can Only Ever Be Plan B

Article excerpt

RARELY has a press room been so wedged at Stamford Bridge.

There were dozens of former pros present, a who's who of Panini sticker albums down through the years, and such was the queue for Chelsea's famed buffet, an appalled Gary Neville turned back and settled for a handful of jelly beans an hour before kick-off.

And they were all there to see fireworks on Bonfire Night - Tiemoue Bakayoko/Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaku/Alvaro Morata and, of course, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.

There was no mention of Mourinho in Conte's programme notes, no extended welcome, and the photo of the Portuguese's third title triumph at the club has long been erased from the walls surrounding Stamford Bridge.

Not that you could tell that with the reception Mourinho received from his former colleagues. Handshakes, hugs and a kiss for one lucky fellow.

Even the dressing room stewards have not forgotten Mourinho and, clearly, he still remembers them as he greeted them on his way to the now familiar away dressing room.

Chelsea fans may not have repeated the 'Judas' chants that a minority resorted to the last time United rocked up to SW6, but they made their feelings clear within 30 seconds of Anthony Taylor's whistle.

'Antonioooooooo!' United's brilliant travelling support, though, had the perfect response and those 'Jose Mourinho! and 'Something Tells Me' chants were back on the hymn sheet after a notable absence in the last week.

There was even room for 'Viva! John Terry!' By that stage, United had already made a better start than in the same fixture last season, when they were 1-0 down after just 30 seconds.

United's approach promise Ciaran And their energetic approach had promise and legs.

United pressed with real intent and, at one stage, Mourinho got up out of his seat three times in the space of 90 seconds to clap some further encouragement into his side. Eric Bailly, for example, was encouraged to push up and help limit the space Eden Hazard could operate in as Ander Herrera tried to cope with the towering Bakayoko. …

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