Jose Mourinho has made it clear that he maintains an amicable relationship with Chelsea fans ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The 54-year-old endured a nightmare return to his former club last October, succumbing to a 4-0 defeat, and was taunted with ‘Judas’ chants during the 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup last month.
In response, Mourinho reminded Chelsea fans that, when it comes to titles, Judas was still number one, and pointed towards the Man United badge as he walked off following his side’s 2-0 win over the champions in April.
But Mourinho, when asked about the Judas chants, insisted that such hostility wasn’t characteristic of how the majority of Chelsea fans feel about him.
“I don’t want to speak about that, that’s football,” he said. “That’s not a problem for me, that’s not a problem at all, I walk in the street and outside the football hate, outside the football environment, I get so many Chelsea fans – especially in the area where I live – I get so many Chelsea supporters and I didn’t have one single one that wasn’t nice.
“What happened in a football stadium was a different thing, when I walk in the street of London I’m just a normal guy, when I go to Stamford Bridge and sit in that dugout on the right side of the tunnel, I am the manager of their opponent, so I accept every possible reaction with the utmost respect.”
What you have to remember about Mourinho is that the petulant, brooding, much maligned character that dominates the headlines, wins games in detestable yet ruthless fashion, angers other managers to their wit’s end is indeed just an act. A tactic, so to speak.
Sir Alex Ferguson once noted that a game is won or lost in a press conference, but Mourinho takes it even further than that. He is football’s greatest guerrilla warrior, taking full of advantage of anything and everything to gain an upper hand, regardless of what anybody thinks.
And so Chelsea fans, by necessity, will indeed feel a swirling sensational of animosity towards their former boss as he stands in the away dugout on Sunday.
Such a dynamic has often played to Mourinho’s advantage, and United supporters will hope to see it emerge once again at his old club.