Mourinho, Man United seek return of old magic
Published on: September 11, 2017 12:11 (EAT)
He has twice stunned Old Trafford into silence on Champions League nights, but as Manchester United make their competition return, Jose Mourinho’s obligation is to make the old stadium roar. In 2004 his Porto side sensationally eliminated United in the Champions League last 16 and in 2013 he returned with Real Madrid to bring the curtain down on Alex Ferguson’s European exploits in the Old Trafford dug-out. The Champions League has always been the competition in which Mourinho has defined himself and he has already been talking up his chances of surpassing Ferguson’s record as the competition’s most experienced manager. “I know that I am in the top five or six. I’m quite far, especially from the top one, but I will fight hard to go for that record,” said Mourinho, who has overseen 133 Champions League games to Ferguson’s 194. “Last season I lost a season in the chase for this record (as United won the Europa League), but Manchester United is where Manchester United has to be and I’m really happy with that. “The Champions League night is a unique experience for everyone. I have some players without that great experience. “I think it will be fabulous for them and the fans to be back in the Champions League and to have the initial three matches to be played at Old Trafford, I think is fantastic.” The Old Trafford crowd’s first encounter with their current manager in March 2004 exposed them to the full force of Mourinho the provocateur. He raced down the touchline, coattails flapping behind him, when Costinha’s late goal took Porto through at United’s expense, before witheringly proclaiming that Ferguson’s side “should be doing a lot better”. Nine years later, the Mourinho who took his seat in the dugout was an altogether more conciliatory figure. He later claimed he already knew about Ferguson’s impending retirement at that point and his unusually diplomatic comments before and after the game suggested a desire to ingratiate himself with United’s fans and board.