Jose Mourinho can only look on and admire Manchester United's firepower

Chelsea manager revisits Old Trafford tomorrow with relish but he will be jealous of the calibre of United's striking options

The sequence of League results when Jose Mourinho first became manager of Chelsea in 2004 suggested his team would be successful, if unexciting: 1-0, 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0, 1-0, 0-1. Only after that did they begin to cut loose, scoring four goals half a dozen times before Christmas, yet even by the time he left, after finishing top of the table twice and in second place once, neither the perception nor the statistics had greatly changed.

Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and, for now, the promising Romelu Lukaku do not look like the players to alter them; hence the continued pursuit of either Wayne Rooney or an alternative after tomorrow night's game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

In each of those three previous campaigns Chelsea conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League – an extraordinary, record-breaking 15 in the first season – and in none of them were they top scorers. One of the many intriguing questions about Mourinho's return is therefore whether the tactical emphasis will change from one suggesting that, to coin a phrase, defence is the best form of counter-attack.

Counter-attacking was what Mourinho's earlier teams did best and what they were set up for. Furthermore, once ahead, Chelsea tended to stay there. Not until that third stuttering season did they lose a League game after taking the lead. All this was brought back by last Sunday's opening game against Hull City when, following the anticipated love-in for the Returning One, an inferior team were brushed aside in the opening 25 minutes, after which Chelsea applied what Arsène Wenger calls the handbrake.

Last Wednesday Stamford Bridge might have expected more of the same after another early goal, but Aston Villa confirmed that they are made of sterner stuff and there was characteristic Mourinho-style controversy before a second successive win was achieved.

Now comes the test of a first away game against the champions themselves. He insists he is looking forward to it, at one of his favourite grounds, the glamour of United and Old Trafford having not diminished in his six years away, even without his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson in the opposing dug-out. "Playing against Manchester United, I always say the same, it gives me pleasure. Last year we were playing Champions' League knockout phase and everybody in Madrid had some tension but I was happy. I like the stadium, I like the opponent, I like the difficulty of the game, I like it very, very much."

Unbeaten or not in eight previous meetings with David Moyes (see panel, below), Mourinho knows that away games against Everton were never straightforward, the four of them providing two draws and two wins by a single goal.

Ferguson's successor, meanwhile, understandably believes he is entitled to expect a stronger challenge from his new team than his old one, who in one of those Goodison games were actually bottom of the Premier League.

"I think there is [a difference]," Moyes said. "There is the idea that we are out there to win and I will do everything I can to take that on. I think there are differences but that comes down to the level of players and quality. If you've got a bad team, you can play an attacking team and get beat 5-0. You have to get the balance right and that is where the most successful coaches come in, and I think Jose has done that over the years."

The perception a year ago, of course, was that Mourinho could well be the next United manager, which Moyes was happy to accept. "Quite rightly so. He was probably the best of the modern young managers. He would quite rightly be attracting all the top jobs."

In United's favour tomorrow will be having two forwards that Chelsea would love to get their hands on; not just Rooney but also Robin van Persie, who must stand out as the obvious example of why not to sell a player to a domestic rival. "I was quite worried when I came in," Moyes admitted, "because I had lost [Dutch coach] Rene Meulensteen, who I knew was quite close to Robin. But I've got to say, ever since he joined up [on the pre-season tour] in Sydney he has been terrific.

"The biggest thing for me is how much he has bought into it, his work ethic and how much of a team player he is at the moment. He has been very humble in the way he is asking the players to help him and the service he would like to get.

"I asked him the other day how many medals he has won and he said one. I saw the glint in his eyes to say, 'I need more than one' and so do I."

Manchester United v Chelsea is on Sky Sports 1 tomorrow, kick-off 8pm

Head-to-head: Moyes (P8 W0 L5 D3) vs Mourinho

6.11.04 (Prem) Chelsea 1 Everton 0

Chelsea go top for the first time under Mourinho with Arjen Robben's goal.

12.2.05 (Prem) Everton 0 Chelsea 1

James Beattie is sent off after eight minutes and Eidur Gudjohnsen's goal keeps Chelsea top.

23.10.05 (Prem) Everton 1 Chelsea 1

Mourinho furious about disallowed goal as Chelsea drop first points of the season to Beattie's penalty.

28.1.06 (FA Cup) Everton 1 Chelsea 1

Another Goodison draw as Frank Lampard equalises James McFadden's goal in a fourth-round tie.

8.2.06 (FA Cup) Chelsea 4 Everton 1

Two goals for Robben in comfortable replay win; Chelsea 3-0 up at half-time.

17.4.06 (Prem) Chelsea 3 Everton 0

Another three-goal victory leaves Mourinho one point from a second successive title.

17.12.06 (Prem) Everton 2 Chelsea 3

Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba score in last 10 minutes; Mourinho apologises after accusing Andy Johnson of diving.

13.5.07 (Prem) Chelsea 1 Everton 1

Drogba scores his 32nd goal of the season on the final day as Chelsea finish second and Everton sixth.

Chelsea's new Rooney bid

Chelsea will keep up the pressure on Manchester United by submitting a new bid for Wayne Rooney once tomorrow night's match between the teams at Old Trafford is out of the way. Said Jose Mourinho: "We make the bid and they say no again, what do we lose? One e-mail?" To add spice to an already tasty occasion, United's new manager David Moyes says Rooney has "a great chance of starting" the game. United continue to insist there is no way Rooney will be allowed to leave.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence