Date: 29th August 2016 at 3:14pm
Written by:

If you’re anything like me, then you absolutely hated Jose Mourinho when he was appointed the manager of Chelsea in the summer of 2004.

And I can recall the very moment in time when my blood boiled at the very sight of him.

In season 2003-04, we met Mourinho’s FC Porto in the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League. We had topped Group E comprising Stuttgart, Panathinaikos and Glasgow Rangers whilst Mourinho’s side had finished runners-up in Group F to Real Madrid. The first leg was played on 25 February 2004 at FC Porto’s Estádio do Dragão where we lost 2-1 (Quinton Fortune scored). I went to the return leg at Old Trafford on 9 March 2004. Scholesy scored in the 32nd minute to level the tie at 2-2 but thanks to our away goal, we led 3-2 on aggregate.

The game dragged on as if neither side wanted to risk losing a goal which surprised me as the visitors were going out if the score remained the same. The game entered the 90th minute and all I could think about was how long the referee would add on for injury time but to my complete horror, Costinha scored an equaliser with only 30 seconds of normal time remaining. When the goal was scored Mourinho ran down the side of the pitch, celebrating flamboyantly at the Scoreboard End. If he had acted like that in front of me in my seat in the Stretford End, I would probably be banned from Old Trafford today.

From that moment on I detested the man and wished his team nothing but bad luck.

However, my No.1 most hated manager, he had replaced Arsene Wenger in my mind set, guided FC Porto to the final after defeating Olympique Lyonnaise in the quarter- finals and Deportivo La Coruna in the semi-finals. However, I was confident that their opponents in the final would give me the justice I craved for after they saw off Real Madrid and Chelsea en route to the final in Arena AufSchalke, as hale, Germany.

But on the night, AS Monaco, were no match for the team which Mourinho meticulously prepared to face them. It was as if Mourinho had a dossier on every opposing player which not only described their strengths and weaknesses but what they had ate that day at breakfast and lunch. And you know what? He probably did because it was such a one-sided final with the Portuguese Champions (they also retained their Primeira Liga title in 2003-04) running out easy 3-0 winners on the night. I was gutted! But I could not help spot Mourinho immediately take off his winners` medal shortly after it was placed around his neck. I knew he was leaving the Portuguese side and just seven days after FC Porto were crowned Champions of Europe, Mourinho was appointed the manager of Chelsea on 2 June 2004.

But deep down I knew it wasn’t hatred in the true sense of the word that I was feeling. I was envious of Chelsea who had this new young (he was just 41 at the time), brash, extremely big headed, self-confident manager who could wind opposition managers up simply by smiling. And let’s not forget he could walk the talk too having just guided the un-fancied FC Porto to the UEFA Champions League crown. In many ways, I felt exactly the same about Jose as I did about the Scousers during the 1980s. I just wanted what others had, success, and that is not to sound disrespectful to the greatest manager our club, indeed the greatest manager British Football has ever seen, Sir Alex Ferguson. But The Boss had been hinting at retirement and had been in charge of United for 20 years when this young Portuguese manager swaggered into his first press conference at Stamford Bridge and with a mass of press and TV present, he said, ‘Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one,’ which resulted in the media dubbing him ‘The Special One.’ God, I wanted to strangle him there and then!

Looking back he was Special, guiding the London outfit to their first top flight Championship title in 50 years in his first season in charge as well as winning the League Cup that season. And he helped Chelsea retain the Premiership title the following season which no other club has done except us – 1994, 1997, 2000 & 2001. Mourinho enjoyed a Love/Hate relationship with Sir Alex but Mourinho fully respected The Boss. On 10 May 2005, Chelsea, who had already clinched the Premier League title visited Old Trafford. Sir Alex had our players form a guard of honour for the new Champions of England, a favour that Mourinho returned in 2007 at Stamford Bridge after Sir Alex’s squad were confirmed Premier League Champions for the 9th time. Mind you, I was also at the FA Cup Final on 19 May 2007 when Mourinho’s Chelsea deprived us of a fourth Double to become the first ever FA Cup winners at the new Wembley Stadium.

When the speculation that Louis Van Gaal was to be replaced as our Manger, I so wanted us to go all out and secure the services of Jose Mourinho. However, I had this doubt in the back of my mind that perhaps our Board, and particularly with the influence Sir Bobby Charlton has at the club, would see Mourinho as a man who considered himself to be bigger than the club. Mourinho reminded me a lot of the late great Brian Clough who like Jose had a massive ego, came across as arrogant and wasn`t afraid to speak his mind. I can recall watching a documentary about Cloughie and he said that when a player wasn`t happy about being left out of the team, he would sit the player down in his office, they would chat for five minutes before they both agreed that Cloughie was right in the first place! And let`s not forget that Jose was not afraid to tell senior players, and fans` favourites at Chelsea, that they wouldn`t be playing or that they did not fit into his long term plans, players like Didier Drogba and John Terry. He could be as ruthless as Sir Alex when it came to keeping the harmony within a squad as David Beckham, Roy Keane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jaap Stam found out.

Across Manchester, the Blues already had Pep Guardiola lined-up to replace Manuel Pelegrinio but unlike Guardiola`s trophy winning seasons in charge of FC Barcelona, Mourinho had been a success at more than one club and had won trophies and League Championship titles in Portugal (2 with FC Porto), England (3 with Chelsea), Italy (2 with Inter Milan) and Spain (1 with Real Madrid). In season 2009-10, he guided Inter Milan to the Treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League. And Jose had appeared on the front cover of GQ Magazine several times! But on 27 May 2016, my wish came true when Jose put pen to paper on a 3-year contract to become our new manager. I must admit that I had to pinch myself at the time and how strange was it to see the man a lot of United fans like me used to revile, sit in front of the world`s media with a Manchester United crest on his chest? Don`t you just love it?

And so going forward with Jose Mourinho in charge of the World’s Greatest Club, my mind goes back to season 1995-96 when we pipped Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United side 9nicknamed ‘The Entertainers’) to the Premier League title. And if I may play on Kevin’s emotional outburst: ‘I will tell you honestly. I’d love it. Really, really love it. If we can win the Premiership with that man, Jose Mourinho, as our Manager.’ Season 1995-96 also saw the coining of the phrase ‘ABU.’ But what other rival fans fail to understand is that the vast majority of United fans love being hated so much. Their hatred is not borne out of ignorance, it is borne out of their uncontrollable jealousy for us and our achievements on the pitch. So now that we have Jose Mourinho, The Man All Other Fans Love To Hate, in charge of the World`s Greatest Club, we are sure to become even more hated. I can’t wait!

And is it just me or does Jose remind you of Ron Atkinson’s charisma and Sir Alex’s steely determination? Coincidentally, Big Ron`s and Sir Alex`s first trophy success at United was winning the FA Cup, a feat matched by Louis Van Gaal but hopefully Jose`s first trophy success for us (excluding our Community Shield victory) will be lifting the League Cup. I can see Jose now with a huge smile on his face and uttering the words: ‘I am already a Champion at Manchester United. Here is the trophy to prove it. Who else has won a trophy this season?’

Bring It On!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!