Before Jose Mourinho became manager of Chelsea they hadn’t won the league for 50 years. While Roman Abramovich’s funds enabled the Portuguese manager to build a team capable of winning the title, it was Mourinho who delivered it, on the back of winning the Champions League with Porto the season before.
When he claimed back to back titles for them in his second season, he had cemented his name in to their history books forever. Having only won the league once before him, by default he became the club’s most successful manager, but he was sacked a few months after Sir Alex Ferguson guided Manchester United to the title in 2007.
Still, clearly a glutton for punishment, Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge a few years later and they were crowned champions again. Mourinho can claim to have won half the total league titles the club have earned in their 113 year history. You would think he was therefore untouchable in the eyes of the supporters. Not so.
Having been sacked twice by Chelsea, he took up the job as United manager, and upon returning to Stamford Bridge with his new club he was greeted with banners calling him ‘Judas’. In his most recent visit, following a 2-2 draw, the home crowd chanted “fuck off Mourinho!” at him on repeat.
Plenty of their supporters have taken to social media today to update their profile pictures to Marco Ianni, the Chelsea coach who celebrated their goal in front of Mourinho before shitting himself and running off down the tunnel when our manager got up to confront him.
Ahead of his trip, in the pre-match press conference, Mourinho showed nothing but respect to his former team though.
Would I celebrate like crazy my team’s goal at Stamford Bridge or my team’s victory at Stamford Bridge? I don’t think so, I think I would try to control myself and to respect the stadium and the supporters that were my supporters and stadium for many years. I would think which stadium I am in, which public is in the stands.
So, why do Chelsea fans hate their all-time most successful manager so much?
This was a question I asked on social media and the response I got from the Chelsea supporters that responded was that he had disrespected the club and the fans. When pressed on how exactly he did that, their answers were less forthcoming. A few head scratches, a few barrels scraped, and they could come up with very little to explain the abuse they give him.
Yet some claimed that in praising United fans, you know, as the manager of United, he had hurt them and he therefore deserved the stick he is now familiar with at Stamford Bridge.
Following his first game in charge, a friendly against Wigan, we took thousands of fans and sung his name on repeat. It was a weird feeling, being honest, having disliked him for so long, but we made sure he felt our support.
“It is nice to feel welcome and that they are behind the team. They were unbelievable,” he said. “For the first time in my career to see that support in a friendly. It was like a crucial Premier League match! Unbelievable.”
Wigan is only down the road and the game was played on a nice day in July, so it’s unsurprising that we took up a whole stand. Match-going Chelsea fans will know as well as any other group of supporters that United travel in number and are vocal, so it wasn’t a shocker to see our fans out in number and volume for Mourinho’s first game. Was this the start of Chelsea fans feeling aggrieved? He said it as he saw it. Our fans were on top form that afternoon and it probably isn’t the norm to treat a friendly in such a way. After three years of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, it was understandable we were excited to welcome a manager with his CV though.
After United booked their place in the League Cup final in 2017, Mourinho again made a point of singling out how impressive the travelling support at Hull was.
“They were the best. Unbelievable!” he said. “I don’t know if it was passion or the cold, or both together, but they were absolutely magnificent. I have no words for that incredible support.”
On the back of a 4-0 defeat against Chelsea in that same season, Mourinho was welcomed back with open arms on his return to Old Trafford in the next game, with the supporters repeatedly singing his name.
“My heart belongs to the fans,” he said. “I felt especially deeply for them. The reality is that I never had fans like these ones. We lost 4-0 and they were supportive. Today the stadium was full of real support and it looks like the love for the club is bigger than bad results and three bad seasons.”
For Mourinho’s last game at Chelsea during his first stint as manager, their 1-1 draw with Rosenburg in the Champions League, less than 25,000 fans were in attendance. The ones that did bother to show up booed Mourinho and his team off the pitch at the final whistle. Can they really hold it against him for being impressed by the United support?
Last season, when it was time to send out the season-ticket renewal forms, Mourinho again praised our fans.
“I’ve managed several clubs and I have never seen such unrivalled passion,” Mourinho said of United fans last season. “The stadium is full every time we play and the support the players receive is special.”
He also claimed that Chelsea were a “very good defensive team” and that seemingly upset the supporters of his former club too.
Essentially though, that’s all I’ve been able to find. As manager of Manchester United, he has said nice things about Manchester United fans. Criminal.
In response to them booing and jeering him at Stamford Bridge, he has held up three fingers to remind them of the titles he won them. He’s also pointed to the United badge on a couple of occasions too, something he’s done at Chelsea and Inter Milan before now.
Does that really justify the behaviour of Chelsea supporters towards the best manager their club has ever seen? David Moyes has had better welcomes from Old Trafford and he looked on a mission to destroy the club.
And by abusing him on Saturday afternoon, they proved him right when he claimed our supporters were better.
Whatever happens with Mourinho and United, and you get the sense this will certainly be his last season at the club, we can appreciate the things he has given us. Two trophies, our best league finish since Ferguson’s retirement, and some brilliant days out. It’s not all been rosy and we may not have even seen the worst of it yet. But he is just a dot in our history. We will sing the name of our most successful ever manager for evermore, while Chelsea are left telling theirs to fuck off.