Chelsea fans still love me insists Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho

Mourinho's two visits with United last season were fraught affairs, featuring a touchline confrontation with Antonio Conte in October, and a bad-tempered FA Cup quarter-final in March

Mike Whalley
Friday 03 November 2017 16:33
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Jose Mourinho enjoyed an angry reception on his last visit to Stamford Bridge
Jose Mourinho enjoyed an angry reception on his last visit to Stamford Bridge

Jose Mourinho has declared that he is still popular with Chelsea’s supporters, despite facing abuse on his most recent visits there with Manchester United.

The United manager is arguably one of the most significant figures in Chelsea history, having ended their 50-year wait for a league title in 2005, at the end of his first season as their manager.

He won the Premier League again with them the following season before leaving in 2007 and then, after returning in 2013, secured the title for the third time two years later.

However, his two visits with United last season were fraught affairs, featuring a touchline confrontation with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after a 4-0 league defeat last October, and a bad-tempered FA Cup quarter-final in March, which Mourinho’s side lost 1-0.

Mourinho faces the possibility of more controversy when United go to Stamford Bridge again on Sunday, but says he will still be welcomed warmly whenever he sees Chelsea fans on the street.

The United manager, who uses Manchester’s Lowry Hotel as his northern base, has kept his family home in Knightsbridge, a couple of miles from Chelsea’s ground, and so feels he is well placed to gauge the attitude of his former club’s support.

He said: “I walk down the street and outside the football heat, outside the football environment, I see so many Chelsea fans, especially in the area where I live. I see so many Chelsea supporters and I didn’t have one single one that wasn’t nice.

“What happened in the football stadium was a different thing. When I walk in the street in London, I am just a normal guy. When I go to Stamford Bridge and sit in that dugout, on the right side of the tunnel, I am the manager of their opponents, so I accept every possible reaction with the utmost respect.”

Mourinho clashed with Conte in the corresponding fixture last year (Getty 2017)

Mourinho’s side have been the closest challengers to league leaders Manchester City this season, which Mourinho argues is a remarkable achievement given their injury problems, with Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard unavailable.

The United manager argued that he should be moaning about those problems more, particularly the fact that he has been without £89m club record signing Pogba for almost two months because of a hamstring injury.

He said: “You know, I think it’s my fault because I should cry every week about our injuries, and remember everybody, day after day or press conference after press conference. I know that I moan with a lot of things but I don’t do with the injuries, and probably I should. I think any other manager would be speaking about Pogba every day.

“‘Oh, I don’t have Pogba. Oh, when will I have Pogba? Oh, 10 matches without Pogba. ’Oh, all the Champions League group phase without Pogba. Oh, all the big matches, against Liverpool, against Chelsea, against Spurs without Pogba. Oh.’

Mourinho will be hoping for a better result this time around 

“I don’t speak about Pogba one single time. It’s only when you ask me about his situation. We miss our players, of course we miss our players. And we have to play big matches without them, and we are probably going to play one more without them again.”

Mourinho flew back to England yesterday to join up with his squad, having appeared in a Madrid court to settle a tax case relating to his time as Real Madrid manager.

He had been accused of owing around £2.9m in tax on undeclared image rights income, and said outside the court that he has now paid a fee to the Spanish authorities to end the dispute.

“I did not answer, I did not argue,” Mourinho said. “I paid and signed with the state that I am in compliance and the case is closed.”

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