Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has reacted to Manchester United’s 4-0 defeat to Chelsea, insisting Chelsea’s players demonstrated a clear determination to prove Jose Mourinho wrong after he lambasted them last season during the latter stages of his Chelsea reign.
A miserable start – with Pedro scoring after just 30 seconds – acted as an appropriate precursor for what was a tumultuous afternoon.
Mourinho, speaking after his final game as Chelsea manager (a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City), notably accused his players of “betraying” his methods, and was sacked a few days later.
Carragher claimed Mourinho’s harsh treatment of various Chelsea players was a crucial, galvanising factor in determining the nature of their emphatic performance.
“We’ve spoken about both managers coming into this game, both needing that big, convincing win early on in their tenures of both clubs – and it’s Antonio Conte who’s got that today,” he said.
“Maybe there was something to do with certain Chelsea players wanting to answer Jose Mourinho, who was very critical of them when he was sacked last season. No doubt, people like Hazard and even Matic stepped up to the plate today.
“Both of them needed that big win and it’s Conte who’s got it.”
Mourinho’s criticism of various players, whilst harsh, was undoubtedly fair. They had fallen out of love with his methods, and Mourinho had quite frankly fallen out of love with Chelsea. It was high level dysfunction in its clearest, most painful form.
At Man United, however, such is not the case. Today’s humiliation wasn’t a result of dissonance between player and manager; there was, after all, a clear game plan that the side believed. The problem, as anybody who watched the game will tell you, was that, against Antonio Conte’s dynamic, effervescent front three, Mourinho’s men struggled to implement his incompatible strategy.
Such a thing happens in football, and this side will be determined – more than ever – to put things right in the coming weeks.