Mourinho love-in at the Bridge as Chelsea ease past Hull
The Special One returns to his old stomping ground and milks the applause as Chelsea start with a win
JOSE MOURINHO waved and blew kisses to the crowd as he emerged onto the Stamford Bridge turf on Sunday and a new era got under way at Chelsea. On the pitch the Blues played with verve as they strolled to a 2-0 win over Hull, but the main event was unfolding on the touchline, where the Special One returned to the dugout.
After the game Mourinho, who now refers to himself as the Happy One, claimed that he did not deserve the fans' adulation and even had the temerity to describe himself as "a bit shy" following his return.
"The reception was amazing," he said. "They give me more than I deserve. I don't feel very comfortable with that. I want them to support the team, sing about the players and the club, not Jose."
But there was no doubt that the day belonged to Mourinho.
"Any tourists shopping at Fulham Broadway on Sunday would have known that there was something rather more than a football match taking place at Chelsea," writes Jeremy Wilson in the Daily Telegraph. The singing began 20 minutes before the teams came out and "by the time he actually emerged from the tunnel, the entire stadium was on its feet."
Even the stadium announcer got in on the act, telling the crowd he was looking forward to introducing the new manager more than he had the last, Rafa Benitez.
"This was an unrelenting love-in and it has been a long time since Stamford Bridge has felt such a contented place," writes Daniel Taylor in The Guardian. "Mourinho milked the moment... Roman Abramovich waved to the crowd and the team played with enough panache in the first half to make sure there was never any danger the homecoming would not go to plan."
The win over newly-promoted Hull takes Mourinho's unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge to 61 games. "Of course, there will be far, far tougher tests ahead, but, for Mourinho, yesterday represented a more than satisfactory opening gambit," says Oliver Kay in The Times.
Such was the feelgood factor that Abramovich was even welcomed into the dressing room before the game to talk to the players. "There might be times in the future when Mourinho considers the owner's presence in the sanctuary of the dressing room to be less benign, but for now it is entirely accurate to talk of his Chelsea remarriage as being in a honeymoon stage," notes Kay.
But Mourinho is not one to rest on his laurels, and after the match he hinted that he was still hoping to sign Wayne Rooney from Manchester United. He did not mention the player by name but did make some typically intriguing remarks.
"We will try till the last day to add a new player to the squad, a striker," he explained. "But in this moment every striker has a club, every striker belongs to somebody and I don't think it's ethical that I name players that belong to other clubs.
"We don't try, like many clubs do, to go around and try to influence players to behave in a certain way. If we have to make a bid, we make it in an official way, we don't speak to players, we speak to clubs." ·