LONDON: Less than 12 months since his second spell as Chelsea manager ended amid on-pitch turmoil and bitter off-pitch recrimination, Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge with Manchester United on Sunday.
With three Premier League titles, three League Cups and one FA Cup won across his two stints in west London, Mourinho is the most successful manager in Chelsea’s history.
The love affair ended last December after nine league defeats and what technical director Michael Emenalo termed “palpable discord” between manager and players, but Mourinho prefers to remember the good times.
“Some managers, when they leave clubs, they like to — I don’t know if you have the same saying in England — wash their dirty clothes,” he said.
“It means speak about what happened and go back and speak and speak and speak. I’m not (like) that.
“I leave the clubs and I leave with a very good feeling, a feeling of: I did everything to succeed, I gave everything to the club and I don’t like to go back and speak, especially about the bad things.
“I keep the good things and in Chelsea (there were) so many good things in terms of results, in terms of friends that I have for life, an amazing empathy with the supporters.
“The supporters didn’t change their relation with me because last season was a couple of months with bad results.
“So I keep all these good memories.”
Mourinho previously returned to the Bridge as an opposition manager in March 2010, when his Inter Milan side won 1-0 to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory in the Champions League round of 16.
Inter finished the season as European champions.
Mourinho cannot scale the same heights with United this season (they are not in the Champions League), but after a run of three straight defeats in mid-September, there are signs his methods are beginning to bear fruit at Old Trafford.
United have gone six games unbeaten and after a creditable 0-0 draw at in-form Liverpool on Monday, they crushed Fenerbahce 4-1 at home on Thursday to invigorate their Europa League campaign.
Rested for the European fixture, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford are all likely to return for the trip to Stamford Bridge, where United last won in September 2012.
It leaves Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and captain Wayne Rooney sweating over their places, while Mourinho must also choose between Daley Blind and the fit-again Luke Shaw at left-back.
Centre-back Chris Smalling will be assessed after being withdrawn at half-time against Fenerbahce with what the club said was a minor muscular problem.
– Moses criticism –
Like United, Chelsea have reacted positively to September setbacks.
Antonio Conte’s side lost back-to-back games, against Liverpool and Arsenal last month, but have since beaten Hull City 2-0 and won 3-0 at home to defending champions Leicester City.
Conte, whose side are two points above United in fifth place, has said he has “great respect” for Mourinho and expressed hope the Portuguese will receive a “good reception”.
But Nigerian winger Victor Moses, who is threatening to become a mainstay at wing-back under Conte, has criticised Mourinho for creating divisions within the changing room.
“He never spoke to me,” Moses told ESPN this week. “I thought in my head, ‘He’s got his own players already.’
“The manager who is here now (Conte) is giving everyone a chance, even the young lads.”
Conte has confirmed he will persist with the 3-4-3 system he has been using since the second half of the 3-0 loss at Arsenal a month ago.
He will make a late decision on whether to pick Willian, the Brazilian forward who returned to the club on Thursday following compassionate leave after the death of his mother.
Captain John Terry could return after over a month out with an ankle injury, but Cesc Fabregas (thigh) and Branislav Ivanovic, who has a minor muscle injury, are out.