Saturday 17 March 2018

The real Jose Mourinho returned with a vengeance after Man United's disjointed derby day display

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

The fourth weekend of Premier League action proved very eventful, with Man United's highly anticipated clash with Man City living up to the hype.

Here is the review of the key talking points from last weekend.

Jose Mourinho has gone out of his way to avoid controversy in his first few weeks as Manchester United manager, but the fire burning inside this Portuguese tactician was always likely to rise to the surface sooner rather than later.

His first defeat as United manager could not have been more painful, with his old foe Pep Guardiola raiding Old Trafford to secure a valuable three points with his impressive Manchester City side and it came as little surprise that the Jose of old exploded into life in his post match interviews.

His honest assessment of the game with MUTV was taken to a new level as he spoke to the written media and confirmed his midfield duo of Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan would be dropped for Thursday’s Europa League game against Feyenoord.

“The performances are the deciding factor,” Mourinho told reporters. “So if you’re asking me if they’re going to play against Feyenoord then no.”

They were comments that were more reminiscent of the aggressive Mourinho who has blazed a trail through the game for more than a decade and try as he might, the real Jose will emerge from behind the guard he has tried to erect for his own good.

This weekend felt familiar as Mourinho slammed his players in public and launched very public criticism of referee Mark Clattenburg, with his brief attempt at personal reform already on the rocks.



Chelsea manager Antonio Conte spends more time talking about the off-the-ball antics of his lead striker Diego Costa than any other topic in his press conferences and thus was the case before and after Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Swansea.

“The defenders know him and, sometimes, try to provoke him,” said Conte, after seeing his marksman score twice at Swansea. “I was a footballer and this situation is normal. They know Diego is a player with passion and they tried to provoke him. The referee must see and allow Diego Costa to play his football.”

Jose Mourinho faced similar weekly questions about this maverick striker during the final, miserable days of his spell as Chelsea manager last season, but there was one huge difference between the Costa of 2015 and the version that has re-emerged this season.

The niggling fouls, the rows with his rivals and the spats with referees are all in evidence as usual, but now they are being interspersed with vital goals that are firing Chelsea’s burners.

Costa is the joint top scorer in the Premier League with four goals and so long as that run continues, he will be worth the hassle his presence guarantees.


English football hooliganism appeared to be a dying ‘artform’ in a glossy era of Premier League entertainment that doesn’t appear to have a place for pitbull-loving morons intent on ruining the game’s reputation.

Yet Euro 2016 reminded us all that England’s old disease has yet to be cured, as their idiotic fans ran through the streets of France hurling garden furniture at anyone who would not fight back.

Now hooliganism is returning to the Premier League arena with increasing menace, as we witnessed with ugly scenes inside and outside of stadiums over the course of the weekend.

West Ham’s new London Stadium home has witnessed fans fighting among themselves already this season and the story was repeated on Saturday, with young fans scared by the scenes of violence breaking out around them.

Meanwhile, the Manchester derby had an unsavoury after show party as City and United fans clashed in the city’s streets, in scenes that was a blast from the dark ages of hooliganism.

With websites set up to promote hooliganism and a stream of books and films celebrating the ‘heroes’ of this vile pastime fuelling the madness, hooliganism is back in English football. Not that it ever entirely went away.


New Manchester City keeper Claudio Bravo had a nightmare as he made his high profile debut against local rivals United at Old Trafford, with his flap at a cross that led to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal sparking instant meltdown on Twitter.

Yet it was the comments after the match that were almost more concerning than the Chilean’s haphazard displays on the field, with his manager Pep Guardiola describing his debut as “the best goalkeeping performance I have ever seen” and the stumbling keeper hoping people would believe this nonsense.

“Good, good…comfortable,” is how Bravo summed up a display that suggested he will take plenty of time to adjust to the Premier League. “I am happy with my first week, with the work I have done.”

It is hard to imagine Guardiola or Bravo would fare too well on Jeremy Kyle’s lie detector exam if they offered up those views for testing, but it added to the entertainment on a weekend that saw former City No.1 Joe Hart turn in an equally unconvincing display for his new club Torino.

Keeping the ball out of the net has always been the first priority for any keeper, yet that appears to have been forgotten amid the Bravo/Hart debate.

While we are on the subject of keepers, Irish veteran Shay Given reached an unwanted target this weekend as he joined a select band who have conceded 600 goals in the Premier League after his Stoke side were hammered 4-0 by Tottenham. To be fair to Shay, he couldn’t have done much with any of the Spurs goals.

Here is our team of the week:

Steve Mandanda (Crystal Palace)

Kyle Walker (Tottenham)

Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)

Joel Matip (Liverpool)

John Stones (Man City)

Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Adam Lallana (Liverpool)

Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Troy Deeney (Watford)

Diego Costa (Chelsea)

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