Mourinho vs. Manchester: Past, present and future of the ‘Special One’ against Fergie, United and now Moyes

Comment by Amber Haque

Love him or hate him, Mourinho is the quintessential trophy-winner and many neutrals are chomping at the bit at the thought of him returning to England to upset the peace once more.

We look back on how the ‘Special One’ earned his title in the on and off-field battles against Manchester United and how his credentials mean Chelsea might be the ones to watch this year….

The games of cat and mouse between Sir Alex and Mourinho were always spectacular.

As two of the most successful managers of the modern era, their combined honours boast four UEFA Champions League trophies and over 20 domestic titles.

The two great managers locked horns 15 times in a rivalry that had spats, trophies, and mind games galore, stretching across a whole continent.

Here are some of the best bits…

Manchester United 1-1 Porto (March 2004) Champions League

This fierce rivalry was born when Manchester United and Porto met in the 03/04 Champions League campaign.

An agonising second leg for the Reds ended with Mourinho sprinting along the Old Trafford touchline in celebration as his team sealed a 3-2 aggregate win.

First blood was drawn by Mourinho and his infamous celebration is arguably the moment that catapulted him into the global footballing spotlight.

It was 1-0 to Jose and everyone knew he was going to be one to watch.


2004/05 season

The enigmatic Portuguese manager became Chelsea’s new manager and, with immediate effect, he led the money-injected London club to their first taste of glory for fifty years.

Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea (May 2005) Premier League:

The psychological battles continued throughout the season as Mourinho boasted of his team’s dominance after just one season under his power, and this day definitely goes down as one of the bitterer for the Red half of Manchester- Chelsea had stormed to league success and the Old Trafford faithful were painfully forced to see their side form a guard of honour for Mourinho’s men.

The Special One sat back and watched his side display a true masterclass in football, with 3 deliciously slick goals – the Blues had well and truly used and abused United for their Premier League celebration party.

Fergie was left red-faced once more as the realisation dawned upon England that there could be a new Portuguese Boss in town…. To quote the man himself: “Look at my haircut. I am ready for the war.”


2006/07 season

Fergie’s boys turned the tables with fluid and entertaining football whilst Chelsea looked scrappy and a side relying too much on their intimidating demeanour of past seasons…. Was the Fergie-Mourinho battle coin about to flip its face?

May 2007 – Chelsea 0 Manchester United 0 Premier League

It was a dead-end fixture where the result was irrelevant ahead of forthcoming FA Cup ties for both teams, but it was the old Scotsman that was chuckling as the roles reversed- Chelsea were forced to form a guard of honour as their adversaries had done two years previously. United were back and they were dominating the Premier League in the only manner they knew how.


August 2007 – Manchester United 1 Chelsea 1 (FA Community Shield; Manchester United won 3-0 on penalties)

Three months later and a stale meeting for the two in the Community Shield was to be the last battle between Ferguson and Mourinho on English turf.

Edwin van der Sar proved was the star man in a penalty shootout as Chelsea were thwarted and the Reds were victorious.

The defeat for Mourinho signalled a crack in the tough, cocky exterior he had worn so well when he first landed in the Premier League, and it proved to be a foreboding sign of things to come for the Special One… Mourinho may have won the battle, but ultimately, Ferguson won the war.

The ‘Special One’ was ousted at his beloved Chelsea on September 20 after a slump in form and a reported breakdown in relations with owner Roman Abramovich. But Fergie wasn’t done with him yet…

08/09 Season:

While their English affair may have ended Jose moved to Inter Milan and football lovers across the globe were salivating as Mourinho and Fergie met in the Champions League: the love/hate character we had so sorely missed returned through the Old Trafford gates once more…

March 2009 – Manchester United 2 Inter Milan 0 (Champions League Round of 16, second leg)

Ferguson got his revenge for the defeat to Mourinho’s Porto in front of a 74,000 strong Old Trafford as United powered through Inter sending them crashing out of the tournament.

The old man proved that class always comes out on top.

Mourinho embraced his Scottish chum at the final whistle, but that was probably the only time Inter had got to grips with Manchester United all night.

Ferguson strutted out to a chorus of the Old Trafford faithful in full voice worshipping their master and chanting “YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL ANYMORE!!” Revenge tasted oh so sweet.


12/13 season:

Mourinho moved from Inter to the only club capable of catering to his superstardom: Real Madrid. A draw against Fergie was a fitting way for the Scot to bow out of Europe; another match against his old adversary and a return for club hero Cristiano Ronaldo.

March 2013- Manchester United 1 Real Madrid 2 (Champions League, Knockout stage, second leg)

United’s Champions League dreams were, however, ultimately shattered in highly controversial circumstances by Mourinho.

United appeared to be cruising toward the quarter-finals courtesy of a Sergio Ramos own goal, but the tone quickly took a turn for the worst as Nani was shown a contentious red card for a challenge on Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa.

The tide turned and Real took full advantage of the United’s weakness; Ronaldo the victory against his former mentor.

Sir Alex Ferguson looked ready to launch another angry ‘hairdryer’ attack at the final whistle and the wiley Scot was left writhing in anger; his body language at the dismissal showed the feeling of injustice.

United could well have been marching on to potential European glory before the referee’s decision.

It was a night where the glory went to Mourinho, but only just, and he will have been all too aware of that. We doubt much fine Shiraz was shared between the two that night….


How does it look for the Mourinho v Manchester battle now?

So with the pedigree manager of British football finally hanging up his hairdryer last season, it remains to be seen – will the ‘Fergie factor’ still be the foundation that binds Manchester United?

David Moyes is only in his first month of charge over the club but the mind games have already begun.

With Wayne Rooney at the centre of a transfer saga between the two giant clubs verbal jabs have been thrown by both bosses.

Mourinho has made subtle jibes to the media about United holding back the “forbidden name” from leaving, it seems the sooner the dramatics around a certain Mr Wayne Rooney are resolved, the better for the future of Manchester United and one point seems clear: Moyes must not wilt under the Mourinho pressure-storm.

Barcelona vice-president Carles Vilarrubi has said that he thinks Mourinho’s return is “not good for English football… In his three years in Spain he only created disagreements and arguments.”

Mourinho’s problematic spell at Madrid began amid speculations of a breakdown between the gaffer and his senior players; leaving the squad in meltdown.

The disharmony reached its peak in the Copa del Rey final defeat against Atletico Madrid. A disgruntled Mourinho was shunned to the bench for angrily retaliating to a decision from the referee.

The Portugese prodigal seemed to be cracking up; Mr Mourinho seemed a far cry from the man boasting “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.”

And now he’s back to be the rescuing ‘Lothario’ of Chelsea FC- on his return to London there were no ‘special’ rants, instead he blew a kiss to the Chelsea fans and declared, “I am one of you.”

Mourinho thrives off an environment where he is adored by club and fans alike and will bring that competitive edge that the club has lacked during weak spells with AVB and Rafa Benitez.

Call me a critic, but one can only wonder if the forecast might not be the fairytale all Chelsea fans have dreamed of, and that dark cloud that loomed over his and Roman Abramovic’s relationship could rear its ugly head once more…

It has all the makings of the mouthwatering second-week showdown that the English League is all about new boy Moyes takes the United reigns as they clash with Chelsea. Moyes has been a la Fergie in his dealings with the press, sending public messages to his rival London manager to “bring on” the mind-games…

All United v Mourinho talk aside, with City having a new leader in Pellegrini, Arsenal more desperate than ever to end their drought and Spurs looking likely to keep their slippery hands on Gareth Bale, this season is shaping up to be one heck of a ride…

As good old Fergie would say… “Football. Bloody hell.”

Picture courtesy of thesportreview, with thanks.

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