“First gift was to play Monday, second was 10 men, third was to have promenade on M6”, he said – the third point referring to an airplane mix-up by Manchester United staff following defeat at Chelsea.
Now he has been hit by an injury nightmare that is adding to his concerns over burnout for his players in a season when they have been targeting success in four major competitions.
The United manager will be hoping his second visit to Chelsea this season does not pan out like the first, which ended 4-0 to the home side and brought the curtain down on Mourinho’s love affair with the London club. Manchester City and Arsenal will play for the other place in the final.
“You’re not special anymore”, Chelsea’s fans sang to Mourinho, who responded by holding up three fingers to his tormentors – his tally of Premier League titles delivered in two spells at Stamford Bridge. Conte was furious when Hazard was fouled again by Herrera right in front of referee Michael Oliver, and the trip saw the midfielder banished.
“It probably comes from envy, but I have to say, that for me, Paul Pogba was by far the best player on the pitch”.
The Swede is now serving a three match domestic ban for elbowing Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings – but is free to play in Europe.
With the league title out of contention for quite a while now, thanks to many undeserving draws, United have been languishing at sixth for the longest of times.
Two of England’s best squads go head-to-head on March 13 with Chelsea taking on Manchester United.
The Portuguese boss later said in his post-match press conference: “They can call me what they want”. If he wins, he gets even more praise for overcoming a strong side who have had plenty of time to train and rest ahead of the tie.
Mourinho’s fleeting glances at the immaculately dressed, ultra-intense and ultimately victorious Antonio Conte a few metres to his left on the touchline must have felt like looking at a younger version of himself.
And, determined to have the last word, Mourinho, sacked by the Blues last season, took the opportunity to remind Conte and Chelsea’s supporters that they have a long way to go to match his achievements at the Bridge. The contribution of the world’s most expensive players was also compared unfavourably with that of N’Golo Kanté, a relative snip at £32m, but Mourinho claimed pundits were simply envious of the money modern players are earning.