‘Mourinho may have been Chelsea’s greatest manager but now he’s The Enemy’

José Mourinho goes back to Stamford Bridge as Manchester United’s manager on Sunday with Chelsea fans divided over his departure 11 months ago

The various stages of José Mourinho’s association with Chelsea can be categorised according to the moniker pinned to him at the time. He had arrived at Stamford Bridge a self-styled Special One before rather unlikely dalliances with Mellow Mourinho and, on his return after an absence of six years, The Happy One. The most successful coach in the club’s history departed last December as The Individual, a three-times Premier League winner infuriated by a non-responsive senior squad whose title defence had degenerated into the early throes of a relegation struggle. For the first time in a 16-year managerial career, he had appeared at a loss.

It was the technical director, Michael Emenalo, who had pointedly refused to name the outgoing manager in that infamous interview hurriedly conducted with the club’s in-house television channel which pinpointed the “palpable discord” which had forced the owner’s hand. Mourinho had been sacked a few hours earlier after a 10-minute meeting with the chairman, Bruce Buck, and the director Eugene Tenenbaum. He had been finishing his Christmas lunch at the staff’s party when Buck’s text message dropped requesting talks. The club felt they had been patient but the loss at Leicester and the manager’s post-match suggestion he had been “betrayed” by his players had signalled the end. Panic had set in.

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