In the past, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho earned a reputation for winning big games by playing cautious football. The Portuguese boss’ tactics are now commonly known as ‘Parking the bus’.
His earned Mourinho both praise and criticism. Some labelled him a tactical genius, while others accused him of playing anti-football. One thing is for sure, the Portuguese bosses tactics proved effective at winning trophies.
On Saturday lunchtime, Mourinho returns to former club Chelsea with United. He is expected to once again attempt to stifle the opposition.
Is this United team good enough to stop Chelsea?
It would be a major surprise if Mourinho actually decided to attack at Stamford Bridge. In fact, it is almost certain that Mourinho will park the bus and look to hit the Blues on the counter-attack.
The problem is that the current team are low on confidence and defensively vulnerable. If Chelsea concedes an early goal the whole game plan is ruined.
In reality that could easily happen, especially as United are facing Eden Hazard in red-hot form. United will look to stop the Belgian forward, but whether they can or not is a different matter. Mourinho could man-mark the Belgian, which he has done in the past.
Is this United team good enough to stifle the Belgian and his teammates though? If they are then they have a chance of getting something out of the game. There is also the chance that United may worry about Hazard that much that one of his teammates could strike instead.
Mourinho cannot afford a defeat
There is no doubt about it the pressure is growing on Jose Mourinho. If the Red Devils had not scored a late winner against Newcastle last time out, then the situation would have been far worse for the Portuguese boss.
In fact, reports prior to the Newcastle game suggested that Mourinho was set for the chop regardless of the result. A defeat at Stamford Bridge will just add to the calls for the Portuguese boss to lose his job.
The former Chelsea boss is experienced enough to not let the speculation over his future get to him. However, he is only human and at times during the last few weeks he has looked just fed up with life.
In fact, these days he looks more like ‘the grumpy one’ than ‘the special one’. Mourinho claims he will not go mad if United shock Chelsea. However, no doubt the former Blues boss would be elated at winning at his old club.
Chelsea favourites to win a potentially tight encounter
It not hard to see why Chelsea are 3/ 4 favourites to beat United on Saturday. Maurizio Sarri’s side are flying high and in confident mood. However, this clash could be a tough one for the Blues.
No doubt Chelsea will have the majority of possession, which is not unusual for a Sarri team, but much will depend on how well United can defend and keep Hazard and co quiet.
Mourinho and United have histories of winning games like this, especially when they are unfancied underdogs. Mourinho has the tactical acumen to pull off a shock. The big question is do his players?
I have a feeling they do not. I can see United keeping it tight for a long period, only for an individual mistake to unravel all their hard work. Whether Jose Mourinho would keep his job if he suffers defeat at his old club is unclear.
This is a game the Portuguese boss may not have needed, but it could be one that defines his career as Manchester United boss.
Can Jose Mourinho park the bus effectively at Chelsea?
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